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Become A Principal Hardware Engineer

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Working As A Principal Hardware Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Processing Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $105,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Principal Hardware Engineer Do

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers. These engineers discover new directions in computer hardware, which generate rapid advances in computer technology.

Duties

Computer hardware engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new computer hardware, creating schematics of computer equipment to be built
  • Test the completed models of the computer hardware they design
  • Analyze the test results and modify the design as needed
  • Update existing computer equipment so that it will work with new software
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for computer hardware
  • Maintain knowledge of computer engineering trends and new technology

Many hardware engineers design noncomputer devices that incorporate processors and other computer components and connect to the Internet. For example, many car parts have computer systems embedded in them. Computer hardware engineers also are designing a growing number of medical devices with a computer system and the ability to connect to the Internet.

Computer hardware engineers ensure that computer hardware components work together with the latest software. Therefore, hardware engineers often work with software developers. For example, the hardware and software for a mobile phone frequently are developed jointly. Hardware engineers also may perform some computer programming in a hardware description language (HDL), which describes the digital circuits in hardware. Using this language, computer hardware engineers can simulate how the hardware design would work, test for errors, and then fix the design.

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How To Become A Principal Hardware Engineer

Most computer hardware engineers need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited computer engineering program.

Education

Most entry-level computer hardware engineers have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, although a degree in electrical engineering or computer science also is generally acceptable. A computer engineering major is similar to a major in electrical engineering but with a heavy emphasis on computer science.

Many engineering programs are accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Employers may prefer students from an accredited program. To prepare for a major in computer or electrical engineering, students should have a solid background in math and science.

Because hardware engineers commonly work with computer software systems, a familiarity with computer programming usually is expected. This background may be obtained through computer science courses.

Some large firms or specialized jobs may require a master’s degree in computer engineering. Some experienced engineers obtain a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). All engineers must continue their learning over the course of their careers in order to keep up with rapid advances in technology.

Other Experience

Some students participate in internships while in school so that they can gain practical experience.

Advancement

Some computer hardware engineers can advance to become computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Computer hardware engineers use computer programming tools to analyze the digital circuits in hardware to determine the best design.

Creativity. Computer hardware engineers design new types of information technology devices.

Critical-thinking skills. These engineers use logic and reasoning to clarify goals, examine assumptions, and identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions to problems.

Problem-solving skills. Computer hardware engineers identify complex problems in computer hardware, develop and evaluate possible solutions, and figure out the best way to implement them.

Speaking skills. Engineers often work on teams and must be able to communicate with other types of engineers as well as with nontechnical team members.

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Principal Hardware Engineer Jobs

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Hardware Engineer 3.3 years
Top Careers Before Principal Hardware Engineer
Engineer 3.7%
Consultant 2.1%
Top Careers After Principal Hardware Engineer
Consultant 4.0%

Do you work as a Principal Hardware Engineer?

Average Yearly Salary
$105,000
Show Salaries
$78,000
Min 10%
$105,000
Median 50%
$105,000
Median 50%
$105,000
Median 50%
$105,000
Median 50%
$105,000
Median 50%
$105,000
Median 50%
$105,000
Median 50%
$140,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Microsoft
Highest Paying City
Sunnyvale, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
5.5 years
How much does a Principal Hardware Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Principal Hardware Engineer in the United States is $105,487 per year or $51 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $78,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $140,000.

Real Principal Hardware Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Principal Subsea Hardware Engineer GL Noble Denton, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2011 $200,000
Staff Systems Engineer/Principal Hardware Engineer Qualcomm Atheros, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Feb 17, 2015 $175,323 -
$220,980
Principal Hardware Engineer Palm, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Nov 09, 2009 $160,532
Principal Hardware Engineer Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Sep 21, 2013 $158,000
Principal Hardware Engineer Qualcomm Atheros, Inc. San Jose, CA Sep 27, 2014 $155,600 -
$233,400
Principal Hardware Engineer Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. San Diego, CA Aug 26, 2016 $150,200 -
$225,400
Principal Hardware Engineer/Manager Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. San Diego, CA Aug 21, 2015 $147,500 -
$221,300
Principal Hardware Engineer Violin Memory, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Sep 21, 2015 $145,000 -
$150,000
Engineer, Principal-Hardware Broadcom Corporation Irvine, CA Aug 16, 2012 $143,054
Principal Hardware Engineer Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. San Diego, CA Sep 06, 2013 $139,600 -
$209,400
Principal Engineer 2-Hardware Hughes Network Systems LLC San Diego, CA May 09, 2016 $135,595
Principal Hardware Engineer Qualcomm Incorporated San Diego, CA Oct 01, 2011 $134,330 -
$201,490
Principal Engineer 2-Hardware Hughes Network Systems LLC San Diego, CA Sep 01, 2015 $132,288
Principal Hardware Engineer Infineta Systems, Inc. San Jose, CA Oct 01, 2011 $130,000
Engineer, Principal-Hardware Broadcom Corporation Irvine, CA Sep 17, 2011 $126,779
Principal Hardware Engineer Cadence Design Systems, Inc. Austin, TX Apr 12, 2015 $125,000 -
$145,000
Principal Hardware Systems Engineer HIPO, LLC San Diego, CA Oct 01, 2012 $125,000 -
$140,000
Principal Hardware Engineer Cadence Design Systems, Inc. San Jose, CA Jun 06, 2016 $121,789 -
$180,700
Engineer, Principal-Hardware Broadcom Corporation Sunnyvale, CA Dec 14, 2012 $116,295
Principal Electronics Hardware Engineer Huf North America Automotive Parts Manufacturing, Corp. Farmington Hills, MI May 07, 2016 $113,312
Principal Hardware Engineer Idirect Inc. Herndon, VA Aug 30, 2010 $111,005
Principal Hardware Engineer TRW Automotive, Inc. Farmington Hills, MI Oct 31, 2016 $110,000
Principal Hardware Engineer Airvana LP Chelmsford, MA Sep 15, 2014 $108,742 -
$112,000
Principal Hardware Systems Engineer Adeptence, LLC San Diego, CA Feb 12, 2015 $107,515 -
$135,880
Principal Engineer 1-Hardware Hughes Network Systems LLC Germantown, MD Sep 21, 2014 $106,917

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Top Skills for A Principal Hardware Engineer

  1. Fpga
  2. PCB
  3. Ethernet
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed/designed/supported FPGA Lattice technology for several DAE platforms.
  • Lead PCB layout team to perform multiple projects at the same time and in charge of verification of schematic and mechanical.
  • Implemented a 100BaseT fiber optics Ethernet interface board for ARINC 664 and Ethernet frame capture.
  • Led project from early architecture and design requirements through all stages resulting in successful release to General Availability.
  • Designed and built a PCI based board which was responsible for the safety interlocks and controlling key subsystems of the XT250.

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Top 10 Best States for Principal Hardware Engineers

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Maryland
  4. New Mexico
  5. Alabama
  6. Washington
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Virginia
  9. Alaska
  10. Michigan
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  • (39 jobs)
  • (81 jobs)
  • (390 jobs)
  • (411 jobs)
  • (465 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (187 jobs)

Principal Hardware Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

86.3%

Unknown

8.2%

Female

5.5%
Ethnicity

White

58.2%

Asian

17.0%

Hispanic or Latino

13.2%

Black or African American

7.4%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

French

40.0%

Mandarin

20.0%

Carrier

20.0%

Japanese

20.0%
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Principal Hardware Engineer Education

Schools

Northeastern University

14.9%

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

11.9%

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

10.4%

San Jose State University

4.5%

Florida Institute of Technology-Melbourne

4.5%

Boston University

4.5%

University of Wisconsin Extension

4.5%

Rochester Institute of Technology

4.5%

Stanford University

4.5%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

4.5%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

4.5%

Syracuse University

3.0%

University of Texas at Arlington

3.0%

University of California - Berkeley

3.0%

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

3.0%

University of California - San Diego

3.0%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.0%

Ohio State University

3.0%

University of New Hampshire

3.0%

Pennsylvania State University

3.0%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

59.6%

Computer Engineering

11.9%

Mechanical Engineering

4.1%

Electrical Engineering Technology

3.1%

Engineering

3.1%

Computer Science

2.6%

Business

2.6%

Physics

2.1%

Systems Engineering

1.6%

Information Systems

1.6%

Marketing

1.0%

Computer Applications

1.0%

Computer Networking

1.0%

Materials Sciences

1.0%

Education

1.0%

Science, Technology, And Society

0.5%

Management

0.5%

Engineering Technology

0.5%

Computer Information Systems

0.5%

Music

0.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.3%

Masters

37.8%

Other

10.0%

Associate

2.5%

Doctorate

2.5%

Certificate

0.5%

Diploma

0.5%
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