How to Become a Computer Hardware Engineer

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Computers are essential machines used by millions of people on a daily basis. They are constantly becoming more and more complex and incorporating more sophisticated hardware. Computer hardware engineers are engineers who specialize in various types of computer hardware assisting with development and identifying complex problems and implementing solutions.


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What does a computer hardware engineer do?

Computer hardware engineers design and develop computer hardware for commercial, scientific, military, and industrial purposes. They test components to ensure hardware is functioning properly and meeting the necessary requirements and specifications. They monitor the operation of the equipment and make the needed adjustments and analyze test data. Computer hardware engineers also provide technical support during the development of products and implementation processes and direct technicians and other professionals.

Some computer hardware engineers supervise the manufacturing and installation processes of computer hardware such as computer systems, circuit boards, computer chips, and related peripherals (keyboards, printers, modems, and routers). Others conduct research to improve the advances in computer technology.

What kind of training does a computer hardware engineer need

Computer hardware engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or computer science from an accredited institution of higher education. These programs generally incorporate classroom instruction with hands-on experiences in laboratories. The programs focus on mathematics, physical and life sciences, and the engineering specialty. Some computer hardware engineers complete graduate training to pursue positions in research and development or academia. Click here for a list of computer engineering programs.

All states require computer hardware engineers who offer their services directly to the public to be licensed. Licensing requirements generally include graduation from an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), at least four years of related work experience, and passing a state examination. Licensed computer hardware engineers are called professional engineers, or PEs.

Computer hardware engineers must continue their education because it is imperative to be up-to-date on the latest technology to be able to provide the best solutions to their employers.

What are the prospects for a career as a computer hardware engineer?

Employment of computer hardware engineers is expected to increase by 4% from 2008 to 2018. This growth rate is slower than average for all professions. Strong foreign competition will contribute to the slow job growth rate. Most of the employment growth is anticipated to occur in the computer systems design and related services field.

Computer hardware engineers with advanced education and extensive experience working with a variety of computer hardware components will have the best job prospects.

How much do computer hardware engineers make?

As of March 2011, the average annual salary for computer hardware engineers is between $52,249 and $88,135 (2). Actual average annual salaries for computer hardware engineers will differ depending on employer, industry, education, experience, and benefits.

A career as a computer hardware engineer is a great choice for individuals with good analytical abilities, creativity, and detail orientation. Computer hardware engineers must have a working knowledge of computer hardware and software and related applications. They must also have effective communication abilities to interact with various professionals in both the engineering and other fields. Click here for a list of programs to become a computer software engineer.

Joshua T Osborne

Founder/CEO – Mr. & Mrs. Leads

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