Computer engineering involves designing and creating computer hardware and software applications in order to make computers run faster and more efficiently. Learn about the education requirements, employment outlook and salary for this field.
Is Computer Engineering For Me?
Work in computer engineering is typically hands-on. As a computer hardware engineer, you may build, test and install different computer parts, such as chips, motherboards, keyboards and other systems. On the other hand, if you're more interested in becoming a computer software engineer, you might spend your time developing different types of applications and programs, including simple computer games, computer firmware or entire operating systems.
As a computer engineering professional, you could work for computer programming companies, CPU designers, semiconductor or superconductor fabricators, among others. Working in programming or engineering requires logical thinking abilities, problem-solving skills and technical knowledge.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected the employment of software engineers, also known as software developers, will grow 22% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Aspiring hardware engineers and computer programmers should expect some competition for jobs. The BLS projected that programmers would see job opportunities increase by 8%, and hardware engineers, 7%. According to 2013 BLS data, the median annual salary for systems software engineers was $101,410, and applications developers received $92,660. Hardware engineers and computer programmers earned $104,250 and $76,140, respectively.
How Do I Become a Computer Engineer?
If you'd like to become a computer engineer, the BLS stated that a bachelor's degree is typically required for most careers, though certain positions, especially those with larger companies, could require a master's degree.
Computer engineering major curricula include courses in advanced mathematics, physics, electronics design, computer programming, networking and data analysis. Some bachelor's degree programs allow students to choose a specialization, such as Web programming or computer systems administration.
Enrolling in a Master of Science in Computer Engineering program might also require significant time in laboratories studying the workings of computer systems first-hand, including digital systems, networks, wireless communication and microprocessor design.