How to Become a
Computer Hardware Engineer
Education Pathways, Skills, and Certifications
This comprehensive guide can help you become a computer hardware engineer. You will find diverse education paths to put you on the right path to launch your career in 2021. You will also find average salaries, job interview questions, job descriptions, and job outlooks. Keep on reading to find out how you can become a computer hardware engineer.
What Is a Computer Hardware Engineer?
A computer hardware engineer designs develop and test electronic products and systems. These include circuit boards, processing units, routers, keyboards, memory devices, and computer chips. Computer hardware engineers are also referred to as hardware engineers.
As a computer hardware engineer, you can work in many different industries. Manufacturing, IT, and research all need hardware engineers. You will work primarily with software engineers, who are also responsible for product development. If you like working with your hands or in teams, you should become a computer hardware engineer.
What Does a Computer Hardware Engineer Do?
A computer hardware engineer creates electronic systems that can house software. They can work in computer design systems or manufacturing. The role is versatile and can include many different responsibilities. Below are the main roles of computer hardware engineers.
Designs Computer Hardware
Your main role will be to create the schematics to build computer equipment. Most employers will rely on you to design computer hardware. Without hardware engineers, we couldn’t have computers, cell phones, game consoles, and more.
Analyzes Test Results
It is your responsibility as a computer hardware engineer to test computer hardware design. It is also part of your job to analyze the results and come up with a substantial conclusion. If your hardware isn’t working, it’s your job to figure out why and fix the problem. You may also help test the hardware of other engineers.
Updates Computer Equipment
As a computer hardware engineer, you may oversee the manufacturing process of computers as well as maintenance. This role also extends to updating computer equipment. You should make sure that the new equipment integrates well with existing systems.
Computer Hardware Engineer Education Pathways
When it comes to education pathways for computer hardware engineers, the list is endless. Below is a list of the top three education pathways to help you launch your career successfully.
Computer Hardware Engineer Degrees
There are associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs to help you launch or further your career. First, make sure you have an extensive background in math and science. A background in programming can help you learn more easily, although it is not necessary.
You can also pursue a Master’s in Business Administration with a focus in electrical engineering or computer science. This will set you apart from other candidates during job applications and interviews. You will find most companies prefer a Master’s Degree in Computer Science.
Computer Hardware Engineer Bootcamps
You can find many boot camps that offer full-time and part-time hardware engineering programs. These programs will help you learn different tools you can use in the field. By the end of the lessons, you can learn Linux, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, and UNIX.
You can enroll in a boot camp whether you’re a beginner or an expert. These programs can give you the same education as a degree but in a much shorter amount of time. Most boot camps take less than a year to complete. They’re also less expensive than a college degree.
Computer Hardware Engineer Courses
If you want to learn specific skills one at a time, you can find hundreds of online courses. This is the most modern method to become a computer hardware engineer. You can even find free courses to help you see if computer hardware engineering is the right path for you. If you’re serious about this career, though, you should pursue a degree or boot camp instead.
You should take a look at the Computer Hardware and Operating Systems course by Edx. The self-paced course will give you an excellent introduction to computer hardware and operating systems. If you are a complete beginner, this is the perfect course to take.
How to Become a Computer Hardware Engineer A Step-by-Step Guide
You can follow dozens of different paths to become a computer hardware engineer. However, there are a few key steps that you need to take to reach your goals. Check out the step-by-step guide below to help you become a certified computer hardware engineer.
Watch a tutorial
YouTube is a useful platform if you want to learn about new concepts. You can find plenty of videos covering computer basics and the role of computer hardware engineers. This is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the job description and skills.
Attend a webinar or training session
Webinars and training will help you get an in-depth perspective of the career. They are highly recommended for beginners and experts alike who may want to upskill. You also might be able to network and learn more about the industry.
Enroll in a degree program
The entry-level position requirement for a hardware engineer is a bachelor’s degree. Earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science or electrical engineering can help you land a job at any firm.
There are plenty of certifications to help you increase your knowledge and skills. These certificates will prove that your skills are industry-tested and approved. Most employers list these certificates as requirements.
You cannot underestimate the power of practicing any skill. If you want to be an expert computer hardware engineer, you should practice regularly and learn new skills. Computer science is always changing, so you should stay up to date.
Top Computer Hardware Engineer Skills
To be a successful computer hardware engineer, you need to have top-notch hardware engineering skills. Having a combination of hard skills and soft skills will set you apart from other practitioners. If you want to be a computer hardware engineer, you should explore the skills below.
When creating new hardware, you need to be able to brainstorm and troubleshoot when problems come up. Depending on the situation, you may be working on your own, and you need to make sure you can solve issues. This means you should have in-depth knowledge of both hardware and software.
Because hardware engineering is physical, you should have a good eye for what goes where. You need good design skills to make sure everything goes in the right place to make the hardware run smoothly. A good designer creates great hardware.
Your ability to write code in different programming languages can be essential. This position deals with hardware, but programming knowledge can help you determine if the hardware is working properly. C and C++ are the most common languages to learn.
Computer Hardware Engineer Salary and Job Outlook
If you want to become a computer hardware engineer, you should consider obtaining a bachelor’s degree for an entry-level position. This is the best way to get a great salary in the field. Jobs in computer hardware continue to grow, so you should start your journey in 2021.
In 2020, the median salary of a computer hardware engineer was $119,560, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). This figure is subject to change depending on your education, experience, and skills. In 2019, there were over 71,000 computer hardware engineer jobs, and by 2029, there will be an increase of 1,100 jobs.
Entry-Level Computer Hardware Engineer Job Requirements
According to ZipRecruiter, an entry-level computer hardware engineer earns $54,148 annually. To get an entry-level position, you should probably have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or something similar. You can work in computer hardware, hardware programming, computer hardware networking, or hardware design.
How to Prepare for Your Computer Hardware Engineer Job Interview
Before you go into a job interview, you should prepare as much as you can. It can be easy to get a job as long as you win over the recruiting team. Take a look at the most common computer hardware engineering interview questions.
Computer Hardware Engineer Job Interview Practice Questions
- Do you have any experience as a computer hardware engineer?
- What is ASCII?
- Do you like working in teams?
- Why are you the best candidate for the job?
- Do you have current knowledge of the industry?
- What certifications do you have?
Computer Hardware Engineer Certifications
Different factors like level of experience, job position, and locality can affect your salary. According to ZipRecruiter, you can earn a high of $144,500 or a low of $23,500. If you want to make a higher salary, you might want to consider getting certified.
Below are the best computer hardware engineer certifications.
This certification is popular among hardware professionals. Hardware engineers work with a lot of PCs, mobile devices, and operating systems. Getting this credential will open you up to more opportunities than having a basic degree.
For this certification, you will need at least a year of experience as a hardware engineer. You will also sit through two examinations featuring 90 questions. To pass the exam, you can read different exam prep books or enroll in different courses.
Apple Certified Macintosh Technician
This certification should be on top of your list if you want to work at Apple. This certification will validate your ability to repair any Mac product. Once you get this certification, you are authorized to perform services and repairs for Mac products. It can also give you a better understanding of the hardware.
BICSI Technician and Registered Communications Distribution Designer
BICSI offers two certificates: BICSI Technician and Registered Communications Distribution Designer. These are popular certifications in audio and video, computer safety and security, and project management.
BICSI Technician will validate you as an individual with in-depth knowledge in hardware networking systems and communication equipment. It features two exams, and you must have at least five years of experience in the field.
The Registered Communications Distribution Designer is an advanced credential for telecom-related projects. It features one exam which has 100 questions. You should have good knowledge of the security system’s best practices.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Computer Hardware Engineer?
Becoming a computer hardware engineer can take you two to seven years. This depends on the education route you choose to take. If you want an entry-level position, all you need is a bachelor’s degree, which will take you four years to earn. However, hiring companies are now seeking professionals who have boot camp experience.
If you choose to attend a boot camp, it may take you less than a year to get a computer hardware engineer position. However, most professionals have more than one certification or degree under their belt. You should consider taking up more classes if you want higher pay.
Why You Should Become a Computer Hardware Engineer in 2021
You should become a computer hardware engineer in 2021 because there will always be a need for better devices. The job growth rate may not be as competitive as other tech careers, but it is still a remarkable position. Computer hardware engineers are essential in any field that requires electronics. The job outlook won’t fall anytime soon.
Computer Hardware Engineer FAQ
There are plenty of resources online to help you in your career. Communities such as the Computing Research Association, International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers are great platforms.
If you choose to learn computer hardware engineering, you will open up plenty of job opportunities from across all boards. You can become an aerospace engineer, computer programmer, software developer, or computer network architect.
Yes, anyone can become a computer hardware engineer. You only need passion, creativity, training, and proper education to successfully land the job.
This is a full-time position that requires hands-on participation. You will help with manufacturing, installing, and testing computer systems and products.