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Computer Engineer


Description

It would be hard to imagine living in a world without computers. Over the last few decades, they have entered our lives and homes and become an imperative part of our technological culture. Without the "brain surgery" of computer engineers, we would not have such intelligent computer hardware and software systems. Computer engineers build, research, plan, design, develop and test computers and related equipment. They usually work in either the hardware or software components of engineering and develop new applications software and systems analysis.

Computer engineers usually specialize in one of three main areas of design: hardware engineering, software engineering or systems/network engineering. Hardware engineers work with the internal hardware equipment of computers. Software engineers create and install software programs, such as operating systems, communications software, utility programs and databases for specific companies. Systems engineers work with the actual networks and systems within a company. They may also ensure that the existing network is effective, and determine how it should evolve to meet new requirements of the organization or business.

Computer engineers may also specialize in a number of different localized areas such as designing the control system for an automated production line in the manufacturing industry, creating software for digital telephone switching systems, planning and supervising the installation of a Local Area Computer Network (LAN) and developing a new operating system for a client with specific needs. They may also investigate methods of creating smaller, more powerful computer chips using VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration). Computer engineers work on developing new applications for computers every day.

Nowadays, there is no limit to what will be possible for a computer engineer to create. Since the Internet exploded into the marketplace and email became the dominant form of message communication, it is hard to imagine what will be next.

Computer engineers use high-tech tools such as computer-aided design (CAD), appropriately designed by computer engineers, to create realistic geometric models of objects which can simulate and analyze the effects and potential problems of designs such as machine malfunctions and breakdowns. They research and evaluate each project to find the most cost-effective solutions to problems while still maintaining recognized engineering standards. They are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
 
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Program Spotlight
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Grand Canyon University
Turn your love of technology into a career in a high-demand, fast-growing field! Earn a tech-focused degree from GCU.
Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • B.S. in Information Technology
  • And more...

 

 



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$44,830
 
Median Salary:
$70,900
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$109,800

  Interests and Skills  
Computer engineers should have a natural curiosity and affinity for mechanics, mathematics and electronics. Since imprecise calculations could cause major disasters and expensive mistakes, they must be 100 percent accurate in their calculations. Their jobs are extremely technical therefore they should be organized, logical and methodical in their working habits. They must be good problem solvers and be able to come up with innovative and creative solutions to potential problems and design work. Computer engineers will also understand the high-tech market and be able to recognize the public and business demand for new products.

Computer engineers must be personable and have strong communication skills. They constantly deal with people from both sides of the professional spectrum, therefore they must be able to communicate ideas and give orders in a clear, concise fashion. Experts recommend that computer engineers be culturally sensitive and have the ability to operate within a global context. Since computers are now an international phenomenon, it is important to sell products overseas and deal with foreign people. Finally, determination, patience and observance are three important characteristics.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Plan, design and coordinate the development of computers and related equipment
  • Analyze product and client requirements
  • Develop design specifications, including performance expectations and materials to be used
  • Build prototypes (working models) of a product, including the development of logic and digital circuit designs, and
  • Test and modify the prototype prior to large-scale manufacturing
  • Analyze operating problems and make necessary modifications
  • Determine system performance standards and write product documentation
  • Modify existing hardware to meet specialized needs
  • Supervise and inspect the installation, modification and testing of computers and related equipment
  • Supervise drafters, technicians, technologists and other engineers
  • May sell computer technology
  • Since the computer industry is highly competitive, there may be a great deal of stress and pressure involved in designing hardware and software because engineers are trying to be the first ones to sell a product on the marketplace. In other words, many other engineers are probably working on the same project, so it can sometimes be a race to see who produces faster and more efficiently. Therefore, there are usually long working hours involved in this career; anywhere from nine to 13 hours a day, possibly including weekend work when deadlines are looming. A typical day is spent in front of a computer however, there may also be a bit of traveling involved to clients' offices for meetings.
  • A new trend becoming very common amongst computer engineers is working from home. If an engineer has the proper equipment, it is possible to telecommute to an office.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Computer engineers work in both the public and private sectors. They are employed in any industry in which computers are used and especially within companies that require complex computer networks. More particularly, they work for computer manufacturers, telecommunications companies, consulting firms, hardware and software research firms, consumer electronics companies and process control agencies. In the public sector, computer engineers work for different government departments, educational institutions, hospitals and research facilities.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There are many advancement possibilities for computer engineers. They could become computer programmers and specialize in developing specific software applications or work as computer support people.They could also become salespeople for hardware or software packages because they actually know a thing or two about the design of the products.

Some may decide to branch out on their own and open up a computer engineering consulting firm. This way, they can pick up new clients as they go along and even work on a freelance basis. Those working in larger organizations and companies, could also become managers and supervisors of junior engineers. Finally, computer engineers with PhDs could also teach at the university level.
 

  Educational Paths  
While still in high school, if this is the career path you are interested in taking, make sure you take courses in mathematics and physics. Most university programs will require these subject areas as prerequisites.

Computer engineers require a bachelor's degree in computer engineering or in a related engineering field. Then, they must also become registered as a Professional Engineer (PEng) within an association of professional engineers to secure employment and practice in their field. Some engineers also get master's degrees in their specific area, or in related fields such as business (MBA). A doctoral degree is generally required for a career in research and development or teaching.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

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Grand Canyon University
Love solving problems with technology? Make it into a career with a degree from GCU!
Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • B.S. in Information Technology
  • And more...

 
South University, Online Programs
As a student at South University, Online Programs, you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.
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Established in 1901, the College of Engineering and Computer Science has built a vibrant community of leaders with a reputation for responsiveness in meeting regional, national, and global needs.

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Full Sail University - Online
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Earn Your Diploma from Home!
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Syracuse University Info Management

Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) - The Original Information School - is proud of its position as a leader in the field.

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Platt College
Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.
Programs Offered:
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ABCO Technology

ABCO Technology is an accredited computer training academy that offers diploma programs for individual students, professionals and companies to learn different areas of Information technology and seek gainful employment.

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Florida Tech

See What’s Possible When You Earn a Degree at Florida Tech 100% Online

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration/Computer Information Systems
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  • Master of Science in Information Technology /Database Administration
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Post University Online

At Post University, we believe you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold to further your education.

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  • B.S. in Computer Information Systems

 
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