dcsimg

A computer hardware engineer is responsible for installing computer components, doing research and design, and implementing new computer technologies. They are experts on components such as circuit boards, chips, keyboards, routers, printers and monitors. Contributing to a new or customized system that meets a specific need or solves a particular problem can be rewarding. Technology evolves quickly, so engineers must learn constantly to keep up with it. This can be stimulating, overwhelming or both! Hardware engineers often work long hours in research labs, sometimes outside of normal business hours to minimize disruption to end users. At times, their work can be repetitive.

Day in the Life of a Computer Hardware Engineer

The work of a hardware engineer can vary tremendously. For example, some are employed by companies that design and sell computer products. Others work for client companies that have highly customized computer systems.

An engineer at a custom computer chip company is responsible for verifying that the chip being designed will work as desired. Most computer chips are first designed as software, and the engineer writes programs that, when combined with the design, run as if it were a real chip. These simulations test the interactions that the chip will have and check that the chip behaves as expected. This can be a long process (6-24 months) and involves a great deal of testing and retesting.

>A large defense contractor specializes in computer systems that provide solutions to enable intelligence professionals to obtain and decipher timely information that may be key to national security. A hardware engineer employed there develops and produces mission solutions for networking, command and control, battlespace awareness and air traffic management.

Important Characteristics for a Computer Hardware Engineer

Traits that can best serve computer engineers are an aptitude for math and science, an analytical mind and creative problem-solving skills. Someone in this profession should be able to anticipate problems and arrive at cost-effective solutions by gathering and processing information. It also helps to have a balance of technology and business knowledge, in order to keep things in perspective and communicate well with non-technical employees and clients.

Typical Steps for Becoming a Computer Hardware Engineer

The usual path toward a computer hardware engineering career follows these steps:

  1. Start early. Get ahead of the curve by taking classes in calculus, physics and statistics in high school.

  2. Earn a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. Most employers consider this a minimum requirement.

  3. Gain practical experience (and references) through an internship. Doing this while you're earning your bachelor's degree can be critical to landing a job after graduation.

  4. Consider getting a master's degree in computer science, software engineering, or mathematics. This may give you a competitive edge to landing a complex position as a hardware engineer.

Additional tip: While campus-based colleges with computer hardware engineering programs may offer a more traditional way to prepare for this career, some online computer engineering degree programs can compress the amount of time spent studying through accelerated course offerings.

Sources:

  • Computer Hardware Engineers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Computer Hardware Engineer

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Computer Hardware Engineer jobs , as of 2016

     
Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara 12,260 $143,140
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 4,290 $138,080
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 3,480 $135,220
San Diego-Carlsbad 2,800 $122,810
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 2,060 N/A
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade 1,500 $124,330
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson 1,430 $118,210
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 1,400 $112,350
Salt Lake City 1,270 $105,170
Huntsville 1,240 $113,130

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Computer Hardware Engineers

Use our handy tool to see what employment and salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Select State
Select Metro Area 1
Select Metro Area 2
Employment
Salary

Total employment and salary for professions similar to computer hardware engineers

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Computer Hardware Engineer

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Electronics And Computer 30,780 43% $98,980
Professional And Technical Services 24,350 34% $98,150
Government 4,280 6% $93,450
Durable Goods Wholesale 4,030 5% $94,600
Office Services And Staffing 1,770 2% $83,190
Traditional Publishing 1,000 1% $100,610
Internet Service Provider 990 1% $123,950
Business Management 870 1% $92,720
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
 
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
  • Why Earn Your Degree from GCU?
  • Options: Choose from a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more!
  • Convenience: Complete courses online, on campus, or a combination of both!
  • Earlier Graduation: Our 4-credit courses allow you to complete your degree program in less time.
  • Transfer Friendly: We will request your transcripts, evaluate your graduate coursework, and determine your anticipated graduation date within 24 hours.
  • Quality: Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 and is regionally accredited. Learn more today!
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Dedicated career services team that helps students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary
  • Program Coordinators focus on improving program content and ensure that students have the resources they need
  • Over 50 locations nationwide
  • Join our next Open House on 10/21 (10/28 @ select locations)!
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
  • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
  • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
  • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
  • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.

Maryville University is a private university in St. Louis County, Missouri. Founded in 1872, Maryville University is a comprehensive and nationally ranked private institution with an enrollment of more than 6,800 students.

  • At Charter College the entire curriculum is built around student success
  • Accredited by the ACICS with easy-to-use online remote classroom platforms
  • Offers training programs in healthcare, business, veterinary care, IT, & more
  • Receive excellent online support from faculty and staff members
  • Many members of the military have found their ideal fit at Charter College

The University of Delaware’s tradition of proven academic excellence in online learning brings together expert faculty, experiential learning, and the flexible access online learning offers.

  • Online and on-campus programs include Cloud Technologies (BS), Mobile Development (BS), and Web Design and Development (BS)
  • Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career in tech by immersing students in a project-based learning environment
  • Students can learn how to manage cloud technology or gain coding skills for apps, websites, and software
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average
  • Presents stimulating, thoughtful programs for students in every academic field
  • SACS accredited w/many accreditations per program & 14:1 teacher-student ratio
  • 7 colleges with dozens of majors & programs to choose from for undergrads & grads
  • Beautiful 248 acre campus with ¾ mile waterfront located in Jacksonville, FL
  • Named an “America’s Best College” in the south for 10+ years, US News & World Report
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 2009.
  • Offers career assistance and resource services to both students and graduates.
  • Several scholarship opportunities are available to students who qualify.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACCSC).
  • 4 campus locations in Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, and Oxnard, California, with online options as well.
camnpus icon
Oxnard
Request Info
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
camnpus icon
Salida
Request Info

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Computer Hardware Engineer.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

Back to Top