There’s no clear cut computer engineering description or definition because there are a variety of tasks and functions computer engineers perform depending on their industry and where they work.
The simple answer is computer engineering combines computer science with electronic engineering, which allows engineers to create hardware that works with computer networks. To get a clearer picture of what computer engineering consists of, a better question might be, what do computer engineers do exactly?
Computer engineers design, create, and test computer hardware and software, analyze the results, and update outdated equipment so that it’s ready to use with new software. Some engineers also oversee manufacturing and development processes, while others are more involved in testing software.
Most entry level engineers learn about computer engineering technology through earning their bachelor’s degree, but some engineers pursue higher education and invest in an online masters in computer engineering if they are interested in teaching, increasing their earning potential, or simply enjoy being a lifelong learner. Read on to learn more about the importance and future of computer engineering and how to pursue a career in this in-demand field.
Why is Computer Engineering Important?
Can you imagine a world without your smart phone? What about your laptop, fitbit, or video games? Using these devices has become a major part of our day-to-day lives and routines. As our need for the latest gadgets and technology increases, so does the demand for these professionals. But the labors of computer engineers aren’t just solutions for killing time. Many computer engineers receive specialized training to work in the field that interests them the most. Computer engineers interested in data integrity and protection help create data management systems, those interested in working for the military design embedded devices or supercomputers that create war simulations. There are also plenty of use cases in healthcare, including CAT scans, wearable devices, and robotics.
An engineer can be useful in almost any industry since their main function is helping things run efficiently, troubleshooting issues, and of course, problem solving.
What is the Future of Computer Engineering?
The field of computer hardware engineering is expected to increase 6 percent between 2018 to 2028 as of May 2018 according to the BLS. The demand for computer engineers has increased because of the work they do and their technical skills – designing and optimizing memory devices, networks, and circuit boards. The BLS claims there is more innovation in software development than hardware. However, computer programming jobs are expected to decline 7 percent between 2018 to 2028 as of May 2018.
There are some key differences between computer engineering and computer science, but you’ll find overlap in many online masters in computer engineering programs, which offer courses in both disciplines, treating computer engineering with a more holistic approach. Computer engineers may be seen as more valuable since they can create innovative solutions to fix both hardware and software issues. It may be useful for computer engineers to consider higher education to gain a more competitive edge and are able to apply for jobs that are not limited to hardware.
Benefits of Computer Engineering
There are many perks of being a computer engineer. Here is a list of the benefits that each computer engineer has access to once they enter the field.
- Salary: Computer engineers enjoy salaries two and a half times the national average salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the average salary of a computer hardware engineer is $114,600 per year or $55.10 per hour. Computer engineers in research and development earn $128,340, which is the highest average salary.
- Demand: Another advantage of computer engineering careers is that, according to the BLS, there is a demand across the country, giving computer engineers the flexibility to work almost anywhere.
- Competitive analysis: The ability to manage and manipulate a large amount of data is a competitive edge in itself. Furthermore, budgeting, planning, and forecasting is an incredibly powerful way to stay ahead of the competition, goes way beyond standard analysis, and is also easy to perform with BI software. Businesses can also track their competitor’s sales and marketing performance and learn how to differentiate products and services.
- Innovation & Creativity: Computer engineers work towards creating better and more optimized versions of existing products. They must account for technological advancements as well as trends to create innovative solutions, which can be very exciting for professionals who like to stay up to date and enjoy problem solving.
If everything mentioned so far sounds exciting to you, you may want to take the next step and learn how to become a computer engineer.
How to Pursue a Career in Computer Engineering?
If you’re interested in pursuing computer engineering as a career, the first step is typically getting a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as software or electrical engineering with a concentration in computer engineering. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider an advanced degree. There are many online masters in computer engineering degrees available regardless of where you live. A masters program could increase your earning potential and ability to attain senior or managerial positions. You can also choose a specialization based on your interests in fields such as network security or software engineering. Beyond traditional education, it’s important to develop good problem solving, communication, and design skills. These skills could help give you a competitive edge when launching your career as a computer engineer.