Choosing a career is very important since the career you choose will typically be the job you will be doing for the rest of your life. Although making a career change is also possible, deciding what you really want to do later on and sticking to that is very crucial since length of time and experience spent on a specific profession is a major factor that affects salary and career opportunities. If you are going to choose a career, make sure that you really like it, you are ready for the job, and you are willing to invest enough time, money and resources to attain your career goals.
When it comes to career, one of the popular professions people pursue today is computer engineering. This profession is very broad and also includes other subfields and specialty areas depending on the kind of education and training accomplished by the person. Being a combination of two major disciplines – computer science and electrical engineering, people pursuing this career can choose between two major specialties. These are computer software engineering and computer hardware engineering.
Duties And Functions Of Computer Hardware Engineers
Computer hardware engineers perform a lot of tasks and duties based on their roles or positions in a specific company or institution they are employed. While some tasks vary, their functions can be generalized as:
- Analyzing information and data in order to determine and plan the right equipment improvements and modifications involving computers.
- Building and testing various prototypes with the use of models constructed using computer technologies like computer simulations.
- Monitoring equipments, making modifications and updates in order to ensure that the whole system works at its maximum efficiency based on its specifications.
- Designing new computer hardware components.
- Creating new computer equipment blue prints for future use and testing.
- Overseeing and monitoring the manufacturing of various computer hardware components to ensure that they pass standard and quality check.
- Working with other engineers like electronic engineers and computer software engineers to develop, design, and build the best computer equipments.
Industries And Work Environment
Since one of the basic functions of computer engineers specializing in hardware is testing models and developing new designs, most of them work in research laboratories. According to the 2010 US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, largest population, which is 35% of the licensed hardware engineers today are working in the industry of computer and electronic manufacturing. 19% work for computer system design firms and 11% work in scientific researches and development services. Others work in various government agencies and institutions. Based on the report, hardware engineers usually work in the city or metropolitan areas.
Education Requirements And Career Path
To become a computer hardware engineer, the minimal education requirement is a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. Although an electrical engineering degree can also qualify for some basic computer engineering job, most companies and firms look for computer engineering graduates because their curriculum focuses on computer science and electrical engineering. Graduates can qualify for entry-level jobs or some higher positions if they acquire more experience, but getting a license can open up better career opportunities especially from the most popular and largest computer firms and companies.
How To Become A Licensed Computer Hardware Engineer
Deciding the career to pursue while still in high school provides great advantages since you can take courses or subjects in high school that are prerequisite to an engineering degree. This will make admission in college easier and also helps you prepare earlier for the type of job you will be doing later on. While in high school, take the subjects essential for computer engineering degrees like maths and higher maths, science courses, physics, and computer.
After graduating in high school, look for the accredited computer engineering degree program. You can check these by inquiring through ABET or the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology – the organization that provides accreditation on various engineering education programs offered in the country. Online computer engineering degree program are also being offered today. If you prefer distance learning, make sure to check the school and the program’s accreditation to ensure that you are enrolled in the right online school and program.
Right after college, take the initial exam for computer hardware engineers administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying in order to achieve an EIT status or Engineer-In-Training. This status will help you prepare for the national and state board exam to become a licensed and fully registered computer engineer. Under this status, you will be working under the supervision of a licensed engineer for 4 years or more depending on the state you want to get employed.
After completing your training, apply for the professional engineer exam administered by the same council. Make sure to pass the exam in order to become a fully registered licensed professional computer hardware engineer.
Income And Career Opportunities
According to US BLS, engineers specializing in computer hardware engineering earn a median salary of $98,810 annually. Highest earners receive annual salary of $147,000 and higher, while the lowest earners’ salary starts with $61,000 – a figure already higher compared to the starting salaries of other professionals.
According to the same report, employment opportunity for hardware engineers is expected to grow 9% in the coming years, specifically from 2010 to 2020. This increase is considerably lower compared to the projected growth in other professions basically because employment growth is higher in other computer science specialties like software engineering.
Industry growth is higher in software engineering field because most of the improvements and innovations are focused in software engineering. However, better work environment and job prospects are expected for aspiring hardware engineers especially those who attained higher educational degree level, more advanced training, and longer experience in the field. If you are into computers specifically in hardware components, this profession or career will be a good option. Some work full time while some get to work 40 hours/5 days a week in a clean and neat facility, and earn high salaries. Aside from the high salary, hardware engineers also work in very sophisticated and high-end laboratories and manufacturing industries.