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 Education Overview and Career Guide

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Computer Hardware Engineer Education Overview and Career Guide 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

Most Popular Industries for
Computer Hardware Engineer Education Overview and Career Guide

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
Programs
  • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • B.S. in Information Technology
  • Grand Canyon University's online technology programs offer a premier educational experience designed to lead you to a career in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • The College of Science, Engineering and Technology strives to create a challenging and engaging, inquiry-based learning environment.
  • Choose from a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, such as cyber security, computer programming, information technology, business analytics and more.
  • GCU's education nurtures and supports a Christian worldview, which informs ethical decision-making.
  • Pursue a next-generation education with an online program or join Grand Canyon University's vibrant and growing campus community in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona.
Programs
  • Software Development for Creative Technologies (Bachelor of Science)
  • 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)!
Programs
  • Computer Programming (AAS)

The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

 

Congratulations! Your interest in California College San Diego is an important first step toward changing your life. A career-focused degree is the key to a new career with a potentially higher income, better benefits, and more satisfaction.

camnpus icon
National City
Request Info
Programs
  • Web Development Programming Diploma Program
  • Information Technology Associate's Degree
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
camnpus icon
Ontario
Request Info
Programs
  • Computer Information Systems (Bachelor of Science) - Online
  • Applied Mathematics (Professional Science Masters) - Online
  • For the 12th consecutive year, Cal U was named one for the best schools in the Northeast by The Princeton Review 
  • Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017
  • Quality Online courses at Cal U have the same objectives, content and learning outcomes as campus-based programs and are taught by the same expert professors.
  • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost. Student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1
  • CAL U online programs complete an annual assessment of student learning to ensure outcomes are focused on your success in career entry, advancement or enhancement!
Programs
  • B.S. in Computer Information Systems / Computer Networking
  • B.S. in Computer Information Systems
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
  • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
  • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
Programs
  • Certificate - Computer Technician
  • 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
Programs
  • Software Development (Bachelor)
  • Software Development (Associate)
  • Master of Information Systems Management

50 Years of Excellence In Education

Coleman University is a private non-profit teaching university founded in 1963 and located in San Diego, California. Its undergraduate and graduate programs prepare individuals for technology-focused careers and leadership. As San Diego’s oldest school dedicated to information technology, Coleman University has historically educated a large number of the region’s business-technology professionals.

 

camnpus icon
San Diego
Request Info
Programs
  • Online Master of Science in Software Development

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.

Programs
  • Computer Systems Technician (10-Month Diploma Program)
  • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
  • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
  • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
  • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
  • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
  • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
camnpus icon
El Monte
Request Info

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Computer Hardware Engineer Education Overview and Career Guide.

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

Back to Top