What Is a Computer Hardware Engineer?
A computer hardware engineer is in charge of researching, developing and testing hardware, the physical equipment that makes up a computer. Your position as a computer hardware engineer may also focus on internal components, such as circuit boards or computer chips, or you may work with peripheral components like keyboards, printers or modems. If you have a passion for updating and upgrading computers, read on to find out what you'd 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
You can thank a computer hardware engineer 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.
Your role as a computer hardware engineer is to solve technical issues and provide solutions to computer issues for your clients. Using your math and science 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.
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 math or science can get you a position (www.bls.gov). While many schools tailor their programs to prepare you for employment, some programs are designed for continuing your education in a master's or doctoral degree program. Throughout your career, you must stay current in the latest computer hardware engineering technology through continuing education.
To gain entrance into an engineering bachelor's degree program typically requires that you have good grades and a strong background in high school science and math courses. Other helpful background classes include computers and English.
A bachelor's degree program will concentrate on the math and science skills you'll need in your career. Common courses cover computer system architecture, interfaces, microprocessors and integrated circuits. Some bachelor's degree programs are offered specifically in computer hardware engineering, while others offer the field as a concentration within an electrical engineering or computer science major.
Having an imagination and strong math skills are important characteristics of a computer hardware engineer. Curiosity, good communication and the ability to work in a team are also very desirable traits to employers who hire computer hardware engineers. Some other helpful skills include critical thinking, attention to detail and reading comprehension.
Salary and Career Outlook
The BLS reported that the median annual wage of computer hardware engineers was $98,810 in May of 2009. While California employed the highest number of computer hardware engineers at that time, those who worked in New York on average made the most money.
In 2008, the BLS reported that approximately 75,000 computer hardware engineers worked in the United States, with an estimated four percent growth projected between then and 2018. Jobs are available in various industries including industrial, commercial, scientific and military sectors.
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