Computer engineers are responsible for designing, developing and testing computer systems in a variety of military, commercial and industrial applications. Software engineers work with software whereas as hardware engineers develop physical equipment. With the integration of technology in all aspects of our lives, the profession is booming. Interested in developing smart phones? Want to know the salary of a computer engineer? Read on, as this articles gives an overview of the profession; how much a computer engineer makes, typical work environments, key responsibilities and possible career paths.
Computer Engineer Salary
What is the average salary of a computer engineer in the United States? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a computer software engineer is around $85,000 per annum, $50 per hour. The average starting salary is above $50,000. The top 10% earn an average of around $128,000, whilst the lowest 10% earn around $53,000. The average annual salary for hardware engineers is around $104,000, equaling $50 per hour. The starting salary is above $60,000. The top 10% earn an average of $155,000, whilst the lowest 10% earn $64,000.
Salaries vary depending on specialization, job experience and employment location. For example, the highest paying industries for software engineers are top software companies, real estate agencies, rail transportation and support activities for mining, whilst for hardware engineers these are Equipment manufacturing, system design, . The top 5 paying states for computer engineering are [State 1], [State 2], [State 3], [State 4] and [State 5]. Computer engineers also enjoy an array of perks. At Google, engineers enjoy free fitness classes, time to work on projects of their choosing and the opportunity to take 3 months off to pursue other passions.
Software engineers design, construct or maintain computer systems based on client’s needs. This includes creating applications and user interfaces for smart phones, trouble-shooting or upgrading existing software, as well as writing programs and codes for building new operating systems. Responsibilities vary considerably specialization. For example, a cryptographer will design firewalls to safeguard digital information, whereas a telecommunications engineer works with the transmission and receiving of signals.
Hardware engineers are responsible for designing and testing physical components, ensuring they work with modern software. This could entail upgrading current hardware by replacing components or re-wiring servers to maximize computing speed. Alternatively, hardware engineers may need to construct new components to meet certain specifications. With today’s demand for portable technology, hardware engineers are trying to build high performance components that are both low cost and small. The work of engineers is apparent when you compare sizes of smart phones today with their predecessors.
Computer engineer spend most of their time in front of a computer, often in an office but software engineers can work anywhere that has a decent internet connection. Working from home is not uncommon and is viewed as a perk of the job. Software engineers will often work in teams to throw thoughts around and brainstorm ideas to come up with innovative solutions to problems. Office settings are usually very casual with little restrictions on dress code.
95% of hardware engineers work in Metropolitan areas as they work where equipment is located. Most will spend some part of the day in an office to draw up designs and answer e-mails. Construction of components is carried out in laboratories or manufacturing plants. Work settings depend entirely on specialization; they may be military bases, hospitals, power plants, research stations or universities.
Both roles involve coming up with solutions to meet deadlines. Consequently, being a computer engineer is, at times, very stressful and working beyond a forty hour week is fairly standard. On the other hand, its creative and intellectually challenging nature leads to high job satisfaction.
How to become a Computer Engineer
Unlike other professions, there are no specific pre-requisites to becoming a computer engineer. That said, employers expect some form of computer related education. Community colleges offer two year Associate degrees, but a four year Bachelor’s degree is preferred. Graduating in computer engineering gives you a better chance of landing an entry-level position, although employers consider students from other fields, particularly those with strong math, physics or engineering backgrounds. For specialized fields, employers may expect a Master’s degree.
All entry level positions expect candidates to be familiar with a range of computer languages, such as Java or C, and to have had practical experience with computing. Many companies offer internships in computer engineering and programming, providing graduates with hands-on experience and a competitive edge over other candidates for jobs.
For those looking to accelerate their career, online certification courses allow you to prove your competency in a range of computer skills. These are offered by organizations such as the institute of Electrical Engineers. Licensing is only necessary for those wishing to start their own company or become a computer consultant. A license is obtained by graduating from ABET accredited school, completing four years of work experience, and finally passing a license exam.
Attributed to the exponential growth of technology, growth of software engineering jobs over the next decade is huge. BLS predicts a 22.8% increase in employment from 2012 to 2022. With companies increasingly taking their businesses online, data-processing becoming more complex, as well as the prevalence of internet and smart phones, now is a perfect time to become a software engineer.
Hardware engineers can’t boast similar growth, as employment is expected to rise by only 7% in the same time period. While demand for software is high, new hardware to match is not needed. Additionally, competition from overseas for hardware construction further hampers hardware engineer job growths in the United States.
There will always be global demand for both professions. Computer engineering is an international language, and can be taken all over the world. With a solid foundation in computing, it is fairly easy to switch fields which provides long term career flexibility and security.
Computer engineers can become company managers. They will solve less computer problems themselves, but oversee groups of engineers. Managers need strong communication skills to co-ordinate on-going projects, and good inter-personal skills to achieve the best results from employees. Average salaries are higher than a computer engineers, owing to much greater responsibilities, with an average salary of $140,000 per year. A typical path into a managerial role is rising through the ranks of a computing company.
Software and hardware engineers can work independently as a computer consultant. As mentioned previously, one must go through a licensing process. Consultant boast many perks, such as control of work hours, setting their own fees as well as choosing where to work. The average salary of a computer salary is $71,613 in the United States.