What Is a Computer Hardware Engineer?
A computer hardware engineer is in charge of researching, developing, and testing hardware, or the physical equipment that makes up a computer. If you have a passion for updating and upgrading computers, read on to find out what you might do as a computer hardware engineer. Schools offering Computer Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Description of a Computer Hardware Engineer
We can thank computer hardware engineers for the latest advances in computer technology. Though a computer software engineer may have designed your favorite operating system or program, a computer hardware engineer is the person who developed the extra-fast processor or large memory capacity unit needed to use the software itself.
The role of the computer hardware engineer involves resolving technical issues and providing solutions to computer issues for clients. The position may also focus on internal components such as circuit boards or computer chips. As a member of this profession, you might work with peripheral components like keyboards, printers, or modems.
Using your acquired engineering skills, you'll analyze each project and develop economically sound products for your customers. To become a successful computer hardware engineer, you need to first acquire the necessary education and skills.
Education Necessary to Become a Computer Hardware Engineer
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a bachelor's degree in computer engineering is the most common route to a computer hardware engineering position, though in some cases a bachelor's degree in mathematics or science might get you a position (www.bls.gov). While many schools tailor their programs to prepare you for potential employment, some programs are designed for continuing your education in a master's- or doctoral-degree program. Throughout your career, you must stay up-to-date with the latest computer hardware engineering technology through continuing education.
Gaining entry to an engineering bachelor's-degree program typically requires that you have good grades and a strong background in high school science and mathematics. Other helpful background classes include computer applications and English.
A bachelor's-degree program will likely address the mathematics and science skills that you will need in your career. Common courses may cover computer system architecture, interfaces, microprocessors, and integrated circuits. Some educational programs specifically teach computer hardware engineering while others are offered as a concentration within an electrical engineering or computer science major.
Having an imagination and strong technical aptitude are important characteristics of a computer hardware engineer. Curiosity, good communication skills, and the ability to work as team members are other desirable traits that employers might look for when deciding to hire computer hardware engineers. Additional helpful competencies include critical thinking skills, attention to detail, and good reading comprehension.
Salary and Career Outlook
The BLS reported that the annual median wage of computer hardware engineers was $100,920 in May of 2012. While the District of Columbia employed the highest number of computer hardware engineers at that time, those who worked in Michigan made the most money on average.
In 2012, the BLS reported that approximately 79,580 computer hardware engineers worked in the United States, with an estimated seven percent growth projected between then and 2022. Jobs were available in various industries including the industrial, commercial, scientific, and military sectors.
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