Computer hardware engineers essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $100,920
- 2012 number of jobs: 79,580
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 9 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Computer hardware engineers; what they do:
Most office workers just shake their heads in dismay — or their fists in fury — when their computers go on the fritz, but computer hardware engineers have the know-how to diagnose and resolve many problems. Computer hardware engineers make their living designing, developing and testing such equipment. A computer hardware engineer career may include supervising others who make and install computers or computer-related equipment.
Computer hardware engineers use their expertise with chips, circuit boards and routers to work at the forefront of computer technology. A computer hardware engineering career may include working with scientists, the military, industries or commercial businesses.
Computer hardware engineers job duties:
- Providing support to designers, marketing and sales departments and other team members.
- Selecting hardware and materials
- Staying current on advances in computer technology
- Analyzing data and making recommendations on computer modifications
- Directing technicians, engineering designers or other tech support personnel
- Testing and verifying hardware and various peripherals
- Building, testing and modifying prototypes of new products, using working or theoretical models developed with computer simulation
- Collaborating with engineering staff
Computer hardware engineers job titles:
- Design engineer
- Project engineer
- Network engineer
- Hardware engineer
- Systems integration engineer
- Systems engineer
- Field service engineer
Computer Hardware Engineers Education, Certification and License Requirements
Candidates for computer hardware engineer jobs should be creative and have analytical, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. A bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering provides the best preparation for working in computer hardware engineering.
A background in computer software systems serves a computer hardware engineer well. Some schools offer internships or co-ops to enable students to gain experience in computer hardware engineering.
Typically, a master’s degree in computer engineering makes candidates eligible for positions in larger firms or companies in specialized industries. A master’s degree in business administration also expands career opportunities for computer hardware engineers.
Computer hardware engineers programs cover subjects such as:
- Computer-aided design
- Digital systems
- Computer microprocessor
- Computer architecture
- Historical background of electrical computer engineering
- Logic design
- Hardware implementation
Computer Hardware Engineers Job Outlook
Forecast: 9 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for computer hardware engineer jobs, slower than many occupations; this growth reflects innovation in computers now occurring in the software field, instead of in computer hardware engineering. Foreign competition will also slow growth in computer hardware engineer jobs, but analysts say the development of computer chips for other items — household appliances, medical devices and automobiles — will likely off-set it. Computer consulting firms’ need for computer hardware engineers will grow, enabling hardware engineers to work more closely with software developers.
Computer Hardware Engineers Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $100,920
- 2012, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $125,730
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $79,600
- Computer systems design and related services
- Semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing
- Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing
- Scientific research and development services
- Navigational, measuring, electro-medical and control instruments manufacturing