Computer hardware engineers have some of the most interesting jobs in the tech industry, and the types of jobs available with a computer science engineering degree are all highly challenging and rewarding. One of the biggest challenges in computer engineering is being able to communicate with software engineers to design devices from the bottom up. For example, iPhones, iPads and MacBooks are all designed by hardware and software engineers working together to make sure the hardware components work as efficiently as possible with the operating system.
As a result, the best jobs in computer engineering go to engineers with programming and computer science experience as well as electrical engineering knowledge. In general, computer engineers design hardware or networking equipment, and they sometimes have jobs developing network-enabled equipment for devices that aren’t computers. For example, some of the new tech advances in the home appliance industry allow computer engineers to build networking capabilities into refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers and washing machines.
Computer Hardware Engineering Jobs
When it comes to jobs performed by computer engineers, the skills required are so specialized that there isn’t a wide variety of job types. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer engineers design, build and test computer hardware components with networking functions, and they typically need to be able to test these components in a real-world environment with operating systems and software. Therefore, they must be familiar enough with computer science and computer science programming concepts to test the components they design in extreme cases.
Computer engineers only take basic computer science courses in college, so they aren’t required to have extensive programming or software development skills. The difference between computer science and computer engineering is that engineers need to be intimately familiar with electrical engineering, physics and computer architecture, while computer scientists need to be experts in algorithms, programming languages and discrete mathematics. They both need to know computer architecture and low-level programming to be able to communicate with one another about designing hardware and software that works together. Computer engineers with computer science training, particularly post-graduate training, have the best job prospects.
Computer Engineer Salary and Job Outlook
Most innovation in the tech industry is happening in software development, and since computer engineers are needed to design hardware components, job growth in computer engineering is expected to be slower than average for the next ten years. Compared to the 11 percent average job growth for the U.S. economy at large, computer engineers are only expected to see 7 percent growth. With software development and low-level programming skills, however, computer engineers increase their chances of finding employment.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer engineers earned a median annual salary of $100,920 in 2012, compared to the $93,350 earned by software engineers. The highest-earning 10 percent of computer engineers took home more than $150,130 per year, and the highest-earning 10 percent of software engineers took home at least $148,850. Compared to the relatively slow growth in computer engineering jobs, software developers can look forward to a rapid 22 percent increase in job availability over the next decade.
Related Resource: Become a Software Engineer
The computer engineering industry has its own particular set of rewards and challenges, and anyone with a natural inclination for technical problem solving should certainly consider this extremely fulfilling offshoot of electrical engineering. If you love thinking of ways to improve your collection of gadgets, continue learning about the types of jobs available with a computer science engineering degree.