Do you love learning about and building electronic equipment? Then a career in computer engineering could be a great option for you. Computer engineering is a dynamic career path that combines technology with innovation and job opportunities in this field abound.
Our guide will help you find out if this profession is for you by giving you a glimpse into a day in the life of a computer engineer and the steps you can take to become one. We will include information on the average computer engineer salary, what’s it like to be a computer engineer, and a breakdown of a typical day in the life of a computer engineer.
What Is a Computer Engineer?
A computer engineer is an information technology professional who combines electrical engineering with computer science to design and engineer computer products. A computer engineer works to develop computer hardware and software.
Computer engineering jobs are prevalent across automotive, information technology, aerospace, educational, video games, healthcare, and telecommunication sectors. To succeed in this career you will need to master programming, network systems development, electrical systems, cryptography, and software development.
What Does a Computer Engineer Do On a Daily Basis?
The job description of a computer engineer requires them to do software, electrical, and hardware engineering tasks on a daily basis. However, depending on your technical skills, job industry, and job description, your day-to-day tasks can vary substantially. Below are some of the typical daily tasks of a computer engineer.
- Engineer computer hardware product prototypes. This involves developing, building, and testing new hardware products for computers. You would work closely with the DevOps teams, other software engineers, and business management departments to create product prototypes that match the company’s product requirements.
- Software engineering. Developing, engineering, and testing software products is also part of a computer engineer’s daily tasks. To be a successful software engineer you will need to master programming skills in various coding languages. Tasks include product development for different software like operating systems or online applications.
- Network systems engineering. The telecommunications and information security industries are some of the prominent employers of computer engineers. While working for these industries you will create and maintain circuits, networking systems, and other information technology architecture.
- Software and hardware testing. A key aspect of engineering is creating an optimal and highly scalable product. This requires regular testing and troubleshooting. You will conduct code reviews, test system capabilities, and regularly monitor the system for security breaches.
- Electrical system design and development. As this profession incorporates hardware and electrical engineering applications, your daily job duties will also include electrical system development. You will design custom circuits and other electrical components needed for a computing system.
How Can I Become a Computer Engineer?
You can become a computer engineer through various educational routes. Be it a traditional college degree or an online course, the key to becoming a computer engineer is to acquire the right set of skills and qualifications. Below are the top educational pathways you can take to enter a computer engineering position.
Computer Engineering Degrees
The standard education for engineering careers is a bachelor’s degree, and if you want to equip yourself with industry-preferred education, then this is the path for you. A computer engineering bachelor’s degree allows you to pursue a variety of software and hardware engineering professions relevant to the career.
You can also get a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering or Software Engineering to qualify. An Associate Degree in Software or Computer Engineering is another degree route that can help you enter the field in a shorter time frame.
Computer Engineer Online Courses
A traditional degree isn’t the only way to enter this profession, you can also enroll in online computer science courses to kickstart your career. There are tons of online learning platforms including edX and Coursera that provide computer engineering courses offered by top universities and organizations.
However, to qualify for a top computer engineering job, in addition to learning through online computer science courses, you will also need many years of job experience and industry training in a junior position.
Computer Engineer Bootcamps
If you want to land a computer engineering position, then a coding bootcamp is a great place to start learning the software engineering side of the role. The best coding bootcamps will provide programming training using challenging projects and learning curricula.
Bootcamps offer a wide range of intensive courses apt for computer engineering novices and established professionals that can be completed within three to 12 months. Bootcamps are shorter and less expensive than college degrees, and you can also attend a coding bootcamp with a job guarantee to get started in your computer engineering career.
Computer Engineer Certifications
A professional certification in computer engineering will help solidify your engineering skills and qualifications. There are tons of great certifications suitable for the experienced software engineer or computer engineer that are great career boosters. You will need to choose a professional certification that caters to your professional trajectory.
How Can I Get a Job as a Computer Engineer?
To get a job as a computer engineer you will need to acquire industry skills, relevant educational qualifications, and impress your hiring manager. Depending on your choice of computer engineering career you can customize your resume and portfolio.
Below is a step by step guide to finding a job as a computer engineer in 2022. You can modify any of these steps to match your personal and professional background.
Steps to Finding a Job as a Computer Engineer
- Learn computer engineering.
The first step to finding a job as a computer engineer is to learn the subject. You can choose from a wide range of educational routes. If you want to meet the industry standard requirement then a bachelor’s degree is the best option for you. You can also attend a coding bootcamp or enroll in an online course to enter this field.
- Practice what you have learned.
Simply having theoretical knowledge won’t suffice in your computer engineering job search and hiring process. You will need to practice and master your curriculum to perfect your skills. If you want to land software developer positions then add software development projects to your portfolio.
- Choose your ideal computer engineering career path.
Once you have attained the required skills and education, it’s time to choose your ideal job. The computer engineering field includes software engineering, electrical engineering, automotive engineering, and systems security engineering positions. Choose the profession that meets your career ambitions.
- Get a professional certification specializing in your chosen career.
This step is meant to enhance your credentials and help you stand out in a competitive job market. There are tons of computer engineering professional certifications you can add to your portfolio. Choose the certifications that enhance skills relevant to your chosen career specialization.
- Start applying for computer engineering jobs.
The final step to finding a computer engineering job is to start applying. Look into popular job search websites such as Indeed and LinkedIn for open positions. You can also directly apply via company websites. To increase your chances of being hired, customize your resume and cover letter to match the company values and requirements.
What Is the Average Salary of a Computer Engineer?
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of a computer engineer is $92,045. This salary rate is subject to differ depending on your job title, industry, state, professional expertise, and educational background. Your average salary will also differ by your choice of computer engineering profession.
Salary for an Entry-Level Computer Engineer
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of an entry-level computer engineer is $43,406. ZipRecruiter reports California, North Dakota, New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia to be the highest paying states for entry-level computer engineers.
Salary for a Mid-Level Computer Engineer
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a mid-level software engineer is $88,725. Pursuing a computer engineering career with a software focus can help you earn higher compensation packages.
Salary for a Senior-Level Computer Engineer
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a senior computer engineer is $119,651. This salary range can increase or decrease depending on your job designation. Some popular senior-level computer engineer jobs are senior systems engineer, senior software engineer, full stack developer, and senior computer engineer.
Job Outlook for a Computer Engineer
The job outlook rate for a computer engineer varies depending on their choice of profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook rate for computer hardware engineers is projected to grow by two percent between 2020 to 2030. But computer hardware engineering isn’t the only profession this subject area opens up.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook rate for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is projected to grow by 22 percent between 2020 to 2030.
Should I Become a Computer Engineer?
You should become a computer engineer if you are interested in building a career that integrates both hardware and software elements. Investing in a computer engineering education opens up tons of career possibilities across lucrative industries. You can work in the automotive, healthcare, information technology, or telecommunications industry.
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A Day in the Life of a Computer Engineer FAQs
Some standard job responsibilities include computing hardware engineering, software development, network systems design, operating systems development, and software engineering. However, the daily job tasks of a computer engineer will vary depending on their employment industry and job description.
A computer engineering degree opens up plenty of career possibilities across the hardware, electrical, and software industries. You can use your degree to pursue a career as a computer hardware engineer, electrical engineer, automotive engineer, systems administrator, or software engineer.
The answer to whether computer engineering is a future-proof career lies in your professional job choices. Computer hardware engineering occupations have a below-average job outlook rate but software and information technology professions have a higher job outlook rate. The key to future proofing your computer engineering career lies in acquiring advanced and relevant skills.
You need to master a combination of hardware development and software engineering skills to become a computer engineer. They include programming skills, software development, systems engineering, information security, electrical engineering, and hardware design. In addition, you will need to develop your soft skills such as interpersonal skills.
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