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Computer engineer

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Computer Engineer Job Description

Computer engineers are professionals with a background in computers and engineering who develop hardware and software for computers in order to make computers more efficient, inexpensive, and smaller. Computer engineers often work alongside software developers, and they typically work for companies that manufacture high tech products such as computer companies, automobile manufacturers, and the aerospace industry. Some computer engineers are employed by the government and others work for computer design firms.

Computer Engineer Duties

On a daily basis, computer engineers might perform the following duties:

  • Design computer hardware
  • Design computer software
  • Develop analog sensors
  • Design computer architecture
  • Perform tests on the hardware and software they develop
  • Revamp existing computers so they will be compatible with newer software

A typical schedule for a computer engineer is a regular 40 hour work week. However, many computer engineers can expect to work more than 40 hours a week if required.

How To Become A Computer Engineer

There are two options available to prospective students who would like to pursue a career as a computer engineer. The first option involves students graduating with at least a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from a college or university. This is the preferred option of computer engineering employers. The second option is obtaining a degree in electrical engineering, which some employers will accept instead of computer engineering degree. Students who chose the second option must take courses in computer engineering. 

How Long Does It Take To Become A Computer Engineer?

A bachelor's degree program in computer engineering or electrical engineering will usually take four years to complete. If a student opts to pursue a master's degree in the subject, it will often take another two years to complete after the bachelor's degree. After obtaining a college degree, graduates can then begin seeking employment in the computer engineering field.

Education Requirements

At least a bachelor's degree in computer engineering is required to find employment; however, some companies will accept an electrical engineering degree. To find an upper level position, generally a master's degree is necessary. In a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering program, students must pass the required general education courses that are needed for a college degree such as English, math, and social science.

In addition, computer engineering students will need to take prerequisites in physics, chemistry, calculus, and must have a solid background in computers. Once all of the required classes for the degree are completed, students will then begin a program of study consisting of courses in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and a lab component. After all of these classes have been satisfactorily completed, students will then be eligible to graduate with a degree in computer engineering. If a student chooses a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, he or she will need to complete various courses in computer engineering in order to pursue a career in computer engineering after graduating.

Some firms or positions in computer engineering require a master's degree. Master's degree programs in computer engineering typically involve about 30 hours of coursework in electrical and computer engineering and/ or a research project or thesis component. 


There are no certification requirements for computer engineers.


A license is only required if a computer engineer wishes to start a company or become a consultant. The process to become licensed involves graduating from a school accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, attain 4 years of work experience, and then passing an exam.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for computer engineers is slower than average. The field is only expected to grow by about 9% between 2010- 2020. The reason for the slow growth of this occupation is because of the increased demand for computer software rather than hardware and the presence of products developed by foreign manufacturers. Detailed computer engineering salary data is available here.

States With Highest Employment Levels

State Hourly mean Wage Annual mean salary # Employed Employment/1000 jobs
California $55.08 $114,560 22,360 1.56
Texas $47.22 $98,210 9,040 .85
Maryland $50.60 $105,250 4,650 1.85
Massachusetts $53.43 $111,140 3,680 1.15
Colorado $51.74 $107,620 3,100 1.39

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