Do you enjoy working with machines? Perhaps you aren’t sure yet, but the idea of building the next great device sounds amazing to you. You may want to give Computer Hardware Engineering a try. There’s a lot to learn, but it can be very rewarding.
Computer hardware engineers are concerned with making the electronic devices that we rely on every day rather than the software that runs on them. The engineer is interested in the physics of the equipment, the materials it’s made of, and how the arrangements of those elements determine the functionality of the hardware. They research, develop, and test all aspects of the process that goes into making circuit boards for computers.
Computer Hardware Engineering Salary and Benefits
Computer hardware engineers made a median salary of $115,000 in 2016. Many of the jobs held in this field are from high-tech manufacturing companies, so there’s a lot of money and resources invested into creating new circuit boards. Getting a job as an engineer can sometimes be competitive, and hardware engineering is expected to grow only 3 percent over the next ten years. If you are driven by a passion for this career, you still can be a success.
The good news is the benefits of this field are high. High-tech companies want to keep as many of their employees as possible since there is little demand to hire new workers. The ones who are lucky to land, and retain, a job in this field receive high-quality health care, insurance plans, retirement plans and extra benefits.
Educational Requirements for Computer Hardware Engineering
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering to be an ideal candidate. Some companies accept electrical engineering and computer science degrees as part of the core knowledge carries over into the field. There are additional programs you can take to fill up the gaps in your knowledge. Programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) are the best bet.
Job prospectors also need critical thinking, communication, and customer service skills to succeed in this field. They need to be internally motivated and highly driven to find innovative solutions the challenges they face.
There are some specialization opportunities with hardware engineering, but not as many as other career paths. Electrical engineers are the most well-rounded, since there are many different types of electronics used by the general public. Mechanical engineers focus on computer components for various machines, tools, and engines. Photonic engineers deal with technology involving light, fiber optics, and lasers.
There is a common problem that all hardware engineers face called Moore’s Law. This predicts a theoretical limit to the processing power of computers. We are rapidly approaching this limit, so hardware engineers need to come up with new solutions to work around this problem. The solutions require innovative thinking and knowledge of advanced physics. All of these factors make computer hardware engineering a difficult field to enter, yet highly rewarding for those driven enough to steer the future of computing power.