Computer Engineers

This article acts as an extensive career guide that elaborates on the career path of computer engineers, the job outlook, salaries, qualifications required and much more.

Updated by Rakshitha.N on 29th September 2020

What do they do: Computer engineers are involved in designing the computer systems and devices, write programs to develop software applications, maintain the software and also work on network-related systems.

Working environment: the working conditions are indoor and in an office setting where they work mostly. They also work for a fixed schedule of 40 hours a week which may extend at times to meet deadlines.

How to become: To become a computer engineer, you require a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or relevant majors. Certification training and experience ads on to the overall career development. 

Salary offered: The salary offered to a computer engineer for an entry-level position after earning a bachelor’s degree is about $85,000 and can range between $75,661 and $94,354. The salary can go as high as $176,000 based on your skills and expertise in specialization. 

Career Outlook: The job growth of computer hardware engineer is about 6% and computer software engineer is about 21% during the period of 2018 to 2028. 

Similar careers: by completing your education in the computer engineering major, you can also look up to numerous related career paths with the same application of knowledge for a different purpose. 

Top Computer Engineering Jobs

Big data engineer

Big Data Engineers are skillful professionals who manage the company’s user data infrastructure and tools and also have in-depth knowledge on accessing vast amounts of data quickly. The roles of big data engineers can be connected to data scientist roles. The average salary offered to this profile is $158,651 annually. 

Data scientist

Data scientists are knowledgeable professionals who use the application of technology and social science to analyze the trends and success data preferable to obtain profits. They also critically analyse the problem and use industry knowledge, contextual understanding, and skepticism of existing assumptions to bring effective solutions. The average salary offered is about $107,801.

Information system security manager

Information security managers work on the tech-oriented businesses by performing duties such as protecting an organization's computers, networks and data against computer viruses, security breaches, and malicious hacker attacks. The average salary offered is about $123,833 per year. 

What do Computer Engineers Do?

Computer engineers are responsible for designing, testing, developing, implementing and maintaining the computer systems and components. They work on both computer hardware such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers and computer software such as wring programs, testing then, developing software and applications. Also computer engineers can specialise in fields like robotics, virtual reality, network systems, artificial intelligence, mobile apps and operating systems. Their roles can vary based on the job profile and your specialisation. However here we list few,

  • Computer engineers design and develop prototypes, components and systems

  • Perform theoretical and practical analysis of the prototypes through simulation tests

  • Develop software to design application programs

  • Also work on operating systems, networking, and faster processing speeds

  • Research on the computer hardware and software

  • Write programs and test software for mobile and computer devices

  • Upgrading and maintaining the software

  • Innovate new ideas and technologies

  • Integrate the technologies and implement them in the existing systems.

The roles and responsibilities are different with different branches, specialization, majors and job positions. 

Working Conditions of Computer Engineers

Computer engineers usually work indoors in office settings. Computer engineers are currently hired in almost all industries such as manufacturing, technology, electrical, research and development, engineering services and others due to their roles and responsibilities. The working conditions are,

  • Computer engineers work indoors and in office and lab settings

  • They travel to implement the solutions developed. Can also work in remote places.

  • Interact with other engineering departments, clients, workers and technologies.

  • They also communicate with superiors, clients, workers through phone, in person, or emails.

  • Work with computers and sit for long hours at the desk while working

  • Exposed to backaches and eyes sight problems.

  • Work in regular shifts for full-time

  • The schedule is set for 40 hours a week. 

  • Can work off the schedules to meet the deadlines.

Computer engineers hold a total of 64,400 jobs and the largest employers who hire the engineers are listed as follows,

  • Computer systems design and related services: 25%

  • Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences: 10%

  • Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing: 10%

  • Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing: 9%

  • Federal government: 8%

How to Become a Computer Engineer?

The common degree held by computer engineers is a bachelor’s degree by a program accredited by ABET. 

To become a successful computer engineer, one must aim at earning a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or a related major such as computer science, electrical engineering. Also, students must continue learning new skills and complete certification to increase earning potential. Gaining experience after graduation will help advance your career and also keep yourself up-to-date on the latest technologies. 

Most employers may also prefer candidates with advanced degrees such as Masters or Ph.D. in computer engineering which helps gain in-depth knowledge and researching skills.

Educational requirements for Computer Engineers

The minimum requirement to become a computer engineer is to complete a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or related major. However, choosing majors such as computer science or electrical engineering will help in gaining similar knowledge. It takes about 4-7 years to become qualified and the overall time taken to become a computer engineer is worth spending as the trends and the job outlook are increasing with positive growth. 

A Bachelor’s degree helps in gaining strong prerequisites in math, physics, biology, and other basic courses. Also the ABET- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accredited program offered coursework including advanced programming, applied programming, embedded systems, mobile application developments and others.

A Master’s degree takes 2 years to complete where the courses include distributed computing, advanced computer network, computer architecture, and other advanced courses in addition to research work and thesis writing. 

Also prospective students can choose to complete the PhD which takes about 3-5 years which includes coursework based on computing, software, and hardware development in addition to advanced research and few competitive examinations. 

Online computer science degrees are gaining popularity which is accredited and meets the standards of education with diverse courses offered. The study schedule is flexible and also affordable. 

Certification for Computer Engineers

Now you know that a computer engineer solves problems, design systems and much more, to perform these tasks meeting certain requirements is necessary. There are specific qualifications for computer engineers such as training, experience, advancement and certification. 

Certification sets a benchmark and helps in demonstrating your knowledge in the topics necessary to be marketable in the industry, also helps in gaining high earning potentials. Some popular certification you can earn are,

  • Microsoft Systems Administration (MCSA)

  • Cisco Network (Wireless and Voice)

  • Professional Software Engineering Master Certification

  • Arm Accredited Engineer (AAE)

  • Certified Computer Security Incident Handler (CSIH)

  • Project Management

  • VMWare

Also, students can gain experience or a number of years by attending internships, practicums, on-the-job training, part-time jobs, workshops, events held by professional organizations and seminars. This also gives wide exposure to industry specialists, trends, and the latest technologies. 

Stand Out Skills for Computer Engineers

To be successful, a computer engineer must possess both hard and soft skills which are as follows:

Analytical: A computer engineer has to be detail-oriented and must be meticulously analytical since their job includes identifying problems, developing a solution, implementing the solution, and troubleshooting the result.

Teamwork: Computer engineers work in a team with designers, testers, system experts, security experts, researchers, marketing employees, sales teams to launch a product. This is where teamwork comes into play. Computer engineers must be able to accept responsibilities, delegate work, and share ideas with all team members. 

Technical skills: It is important for computer engineers to be fluent in a few languages because they need to code in multiple languages such as python, java, javascript, SQL, etc. Although it is not necessary to know all the languages, it is important to know at least a few of them. The more languages they know, the better it is for the advancement of their career.

Time Management: A computer engineer has to often juggle between several projects or multiple aspects of one large project. They should know the importance of time and be good with time management so that they are able to prioritize tasks, make and adhere to deadlines, and create timelines for work completion.

Good Communication Skills: Computer engineers work with various people like clients, managers, teammates, sales, and marketing teams and technicians, and hence it is important to have clear and open communication. Computer engineers must be able to use non-technical terms so that the communication process remains open even with those unfamiliar with the tech industry. 

Top University Programs for Computer Engineers

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Stanford University.

  • University of California-Berkeley.

  • Carnegie Mellon University.

  • University of Illinois-Urbana

  • Georgia Institute of Technology.

  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

  • Princeton University

Computer Engineers Salary

Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average salary offered to occupations of computer engineering without generalizing the numerous careers. The salary offered to computer engineers for a regular position in the year 2020 is about $85,000 and can range anywhere between $75,661 and $94,354. The average salary offered to the job profiles depends on the education, certification, skills, experience, and interests of the candidate. The median wages for different fields of careers in computer engineering are, 

  • Computer engineer (entry-level) : $85,000

  • Computer hardware engineer: $117,840

  • Computer hardware engineer in system design: $117,840

  • Computer hardware engineer in software publishers: $132,130

  • Computer network architects: $111,130

  • Software developers: $114,000

The average salary you will be paid by the amount of experience gained is detailed as follows,

  • Entry-level: $64,450

  • Early Career: $69,868

  • Midcareer: $86,660

  • Experienced: $106,851

Job Growth of Computer Engineers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook of careers in computer engineering isn't generalized however sub-discipline career growth is projected for 10 years. 

Due to the technological advancements and the need for advancement, the careers of computer engineering are in high demand. The emerging industries, massive capital investments by venture capitalists in technology start-ups, and the growing demand on mobile technology are some reasons for rapid job growth. Hence if you are researching on becoming a computer engineer, read on why becoming a computer engineer is worth you're financial and time investments. 

Following the growth trend, the BLS projects the job growth of certain occupations during the period of 2018 to 2028 as, 

  • computer hardware engineers: 6%

  • computer network architects: 5%

  • Software developers: 21%

  • systems software engineers: 10%

Computer engineers can are employed in a number of industries and employments like,

  • Software or hardware corporations

  • Aeronautical firms

  • Defense contractors

  • The federal government

  • Gaming and entertainment companies

  • Financial industry

  • Healthcare industry

  • Educational institutions

  • Research institutions

Related Careers for Computer Engineers

Software Developer

Average salary: $69,090

Software developers are familiar with a host of programming languages and frameworks such as NET, C++,  Java. Software developers are responsible for coding and testing computer programs, designing and developing new applications, updating existing applications, and documenting processes. 

Network and computer system administrators

Average salary: $83,510

Network administrators are responsible for administering corporate network services, coordinating network upgrades, analyzing network performance, and managing network security. Network administrators have experience with protocols and fundamental principles of LAN and WAN operations.

Computer Network architects

Average salary:137,129 

Computer Network architects are commonly known as network engineers. They identify the business requirements for corporate data and voice networks. They are responsible for installing networks, system backup, security, and network enhancement. They make recommendations for improving and maintaining network performance.

Want to know how to become a Computer networking Professional? The degree levels, courses, and steps are detailed based on your requirement. 

Big data scientist

Average salary: 80,676

Engineers who deal with big data are responsible for harnessing and transforming data into unseeable, actionable insights. This has led to a revolution in the computer science and engineering world.


Computers working in nanotechnology explore new techniques to design and manufacture electronic components which are increasingly smaller, faster, and more reliant computing systems. Nanotechnology merges with mechanical engineering, material science, electrical engineering, biology, and applied physics.