Computer engineering exists at the intersection of technology and innovation. A dynamic professional field, computer engineering offers varied career paths in both hardware engineering (e.g. microprocessors) and software development—each which drive computing advances in industries ranging from aerospace to healthcare. The following guide provides a high-level overview of computer engineering, including a look at different career paths, related skills and technologies, earning potential and employment outlook. Search Computer Engineering Degree ProgramsLearn More About Computer Engineering Degrees WHAT DOES A COMPUTER ENGINEER DO?
COMPUTER ENGINEERING BASICS
Computer engineering blends together computer science and electrical engineering to further advancements in digital technology, computer networking and computer systems. In turn, computer engineers use their extensive knowledge of hardware and software design and computer programming to make computing platforms and applications more efficient and effective. Seamlessly integrating the latest innovations, computer engineers develop new computer hardware, design and implement software applications, and enhance the capabilities of networks and communications systems. COMPUTER ENGINEERING IN-DEPTH
Computer engineers work with hardware and software, ensuring that the two are seamlessly integrated and functioning properly. Computer engineers focus on innovation—making computing systems safer, faster and more powerful. At the career level, there are two main avenues: hardware and software engineering. Hardware engineers focus their skills on computer systems and components, designing microprocessors, circuit boards, routers and other embedded devices. On the software side, these engineers create, test and debug programs and applications that run on computers, mobile devices and more. Just as there are countless apps, software programs and computers that function for specific tasks, there are just as many career options for those who wish to enter the computer engineering profession. From robotics to wireless networks, and operating systems to aircraft design, there is a specialization for any interest. Example employers for computer engineers include research laboratories, technology manufacturers, semiconductor companies, and digital consulting firms. Big data is projected to be a $125 billion dollar industry in 2015 and is expected to create approximately 200,000 new jobs by 2018, according to the International Data Corporation. STEPS TO BECOMING A COMPUTER ENGINEER
With a growing, insatiable desire for technological advancements—both by businesses and consumers alike—the need for trained, skilled and qualified computer engineering professionals seems to know no bounds. Becoming a computer engineer requires an extensive college education that can take from four to seven years to complete. In the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program, students typically finish computer engineering prerequisites and general education courses. The last two years focus on foundational classes in computer science, electrical engineering and mathematics. Students typically study software, hardware, networking and security. Many employers prefer engineers with advanced degrees, which means two more years of master’s degree work to qualify for those jobs. Finally, if professional goals include applied research or a career in academia, a PhD in computer engineering may be the answer. 1
EARN AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE (OPTIONAL: TWO YEARS)
For students who desire a direct entry training program or cannot attend a four-year program initially, then an associate degree program in computer science or related IT field of study at a community college orTRADE SCHOOLcan be a solid first step. Some community college students can save on tuition while completing their general education requirements, because tuition at these schools is sometimes more affordable than at four-year schools. In addition,...
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