Computer Engineering Jobs

The major developments you have likely seen in television, radio, computers and robotics are all thanks to advances in computer engineering. Because many of the devices and products we use today are computer or electronic-based, computer engineering involves many subjects. It is related to electrical engineering, as it touches upon many of the same topics, such as computers, software, hardware and electrical circuits. In fact, both engineering departments offer many of the same classes, so you can be well-prepared to work in both fields upon graduation, giving you an added advantage in the field.

Computer engineers have many duties. They may design, develop and test new computer hardware including chips and other related devices. They may also create networks for companies. Like many types of engineering, computer engineering is broad. There are many topics involved in the field, so many computer engineers have a specialty. Popular specialties include information security and protection, operating systems, wireless networks, mobile computing, embedded systems, robotics, signal processing, integrated circuits and computer-aided design (CAD).

Computer engineering is used for many applications, including consumer, commercial, automotive, military and industrial. Because many of the products we use nowadays include some type of computer application, computer engineers are tasked with developing new and better technologies that improve our quality of life, but are economical to manufacture and distribute as well.

A career in computer engineering typically requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Some jobs may prefer a master's degree. Those studying in the field can expect to take a variety of classes, including computing, computer systems, computer design, digital design, program design, microelectronics, instrumentation, programming languages, electrical circuits, computer organization and architecture, probability and statistics, and analog and digital electronics. Many degree programs may also include coursework in databases and networks. Postgraduate degrees focus on research and theory, and may include more complex or specialized topics.

Not only do computer engineers need a solid education and thorough knowledge of computers, but they also require personal skills as well, in order to succeed. Communication skills are essential. Computer engineering requires interaction with co-workers, clients and other teams in order to ensure specifications and deadlines are being met. Computer engineers also need to have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills. They will need to be able to constantly improve upon current technologies in order to create computer hardware and networks that serve their clients better. Because of this, continuing education is generally required. Computer engineers would do well to subscribe to computer-related publications and belong to a professional association in order to stay current with trends in the computer engineering field.

Computer engineering is often done in a computer lab or office during a standard 40-hour work week. With computer networks expanding, many computer engineers can telecommute or work from remote areas. Computer engineering is used in virtually all large companies. It is hard to find a company that cannot benefit from the skills and expertise of a computer engineer. Therefore, computer engineers work in all kinds of industries, but mostly in government, education, industry and consulting.

As with almost all careers, computer engineering salaries can vary by experience, education, location, employer and industry. Starting salaries average nearly $62,000, with salaries ranging from nearly $60,000 to almost $150,000. The overall average is slightly above $98,000. Most computer engineers work in the computer design and equipment manufacturing fields. Most work in California, and the Santa Barbara area boasts the highest overall salary, with an average at more than $163,000. However, in terms of states, the highest salaries can be found in New York and Massachusetts, with average annual wages exceeding $115,000.

Despite computer engineering being a booming field, employment is expected to grow by only 4 percent in the next decade. This is due to extreme competition from foreign companies. Many computer hardware companies in the United States will outsource many duties to international companies who will do it for lower wages. Much of the growth that the computer engineering field will experience will be in the computer systems design industry.

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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