Computer Hardware Engineer
What you need to know
Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers.
Computer hardware engineers usually work in research laboratories that build and test various types of computer models. Most work in computer systems design services and in manufacturing.
Some of the things computer hardware engineers might do:
- Design new computer hardware, creating schematics of computer equipment to be built
- Test the computer hardware they design
- Analyze the test results and modify the design as needed
- Update existing computer equipment so that it will work with new software
- Oversee the manufacturing process for computer hardware
- Analytical skills. Computer hardware engineers use computer programming tools to analyze the digital circuits in hardware to determine the best design.
- Critical-thinking skills. These engineers use logic and reasoning to clarify goals, examine assumptions, and identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions.
- Problem-solving skills. Computer hardware engineers identify complex problems in computer hardware, develop and evaluate possible solutions, and figure out the best way to implement them.
- Communication skills. Engineers often work on teams and must be able to communicate with other types of engineers, software developers and programmers, as well as with nontechnical team members.
The average pay for computer hardware engineers in the United States ranges from $77,100 to more than $208,000 as of May 2021.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of computer hardware engineers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations.
Demand for these engineers is expected to grow as more industries outside of the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry begin to research and develop their own electronic devices.
However, centralized computing and networking services may mean fewer engineers will be needed because these worksites cover large networks and geographic areas.
An increase in hardware startup firms and the ongoing increase in the number of devices with computer chips embedded in them, such as household appliances, medical devices, and automobiles, may also lead to some job growth for these workers.
Most entry-level computer hardware engineers have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, although a degree in electrical engineering or computer science also is generally acceptable. A computer engineering major is similar to a major in electrical engineering but with a heavy emphasis on computer science.