Computer Hardware Engineer: Salary & Job Outlook

Find out more about computer hardware engineers. Research the median salary, projected job growth, potential employers, and education requirements you'll need to pursue a career in this field. Schools offering Computer Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Computer hardware engineers are responsible for creating the physical parts that make a computer run. They design, test and analyze new hardware systems to increase computer functionality. In the table below, you'll find information about necessary skills and other details for computer hardware engineers.

Education Required Bachelor's degree; some specialized jobs require a master's degree
Fields of Study Computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering
Required Skills Analytical skills, critical-thinking skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026) 5%*
Median Income (2017) $115,120 annually*

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Computer Hardware Engineer Do?

Computer hardware engineers create the physical components that make up a computer, including processors, memory devices, and routers. They are responsible for continuing to develop new advancements in computer technology, testing these new designs and analyzing the results. When new software comes out, engineers also are tasked with developing any updates that existing equipment may need in order to be compatible. As technology becomes increasingly available, computer hardware engineers are also being asked to develop hardware systems that can be used in everyday appliances, cars, phones, and home systems that are equipped with internet access.

What Are the Education Requirements for Becoming a Computer Hardware Engineer?

Entry-level positions typically require a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. Many employers look for candidates who have earned their bachelor's degree through a university recognized by ABET. This coursework consists of learning the fundamentals of electrical engineering and computer science; knowledge in both of these fields is essential because the work often consists of computer programming as well as developing new hardware components. Individuals will need to complete a master's degree program in computer engineering in order to work on advanced software development or in large firms.

Who Employs Computer Hardware Engineers?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the largest employer of computer hardware engineers was the computer system design industry as of 2017. Other employers include computer manufacturing companies as well as semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing companies. Positions with scientific research services and the federal government are also available. Jobs for computer hardware engineers are typically concentrated in metropolitan areas, in places such as San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, and Washington DC.

What Do the Job Growth and Salaries Look Like?

As of May 2017, computer hardware engineers earned a median income of $115,120 annually. Data from the BLS suggests that during the 2016-2026 decade employment levels for computer hardware engineers could increase 5%. This growth is just below the average projected growth for all occupations. Demand for computer hardware engineers may result from more manufacturing companies incorporating this type of technology in their products. However, technological innovation focuses more heavily on software development than hardware development, thus the need for more computer hardware engineers is not expected to grow rapidly.

What Are Some Similar Professions to Consider?

Computer hardware engineers share many skills with electrical engineers, computer network architects, and software developers. Electrical engineers develop a variety of electronic equipment. Computer network architects are responsible for building and maintaining communication networks. They are also tasked with continuing the development of cloud storage technology. Software developers design and test systems that allow a computer program to run properly on a given device and also specialize in developing user applications. All of these professions are founded on an understanding of computer functioning and draw upon analytical skills.

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