Hardware Engineers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

High school computer and electronics classes and programming courses give a good head start in this career. You should also take math and physics, as well as speech and writing courses so that you will be able to communicate effectively with coworkers and clients.

Postsecondary Training

Hardware engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering, with some additional course work in computer programming. Employment in research laboratories or academic institutions might require a master's or Ph.D. in computer science or engineering. For a list of accredited four-year computer engineering programs, contact ABET (http://www.abet.org).

College studies might include such computer science courses as computer architecture, systems design, chip design, microprocessor design, and network architecture, in addition to a heavy concentration of math and science classes.

Some large companies may require applicants to have a master's degree in computer engineering. Experienced engineers who plan to advance to managerial positions may decide a earn a master’s degree in business administration to improve their managerial and business skills.

Other Education or Training

Staying up to date with industry developments is key to success as a hardware engineer. Professional associations often provide continuing education opportunities. For example, student and professional members of the Association for Computing Machinery can access online computing and business courses via the association’s Learning Center. Visit http://learning.acm.org for more information. The IEEE Computer Society offers career planning webinars and continuing education courses to its members. Visit https://www.computer.org/education.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Not all computer professionals are certified. The deciding factor seems to be if it is required by their employer. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement, or incentives, to those who earn certification. Certification is available in a variety of specialties. The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals offers the associate computing professional designation for those new to the field and the certified computing professional designation for those who meet experience requirements, which vary by certification level. CompTIA and information technology companies such as Cisco also provide certification credentials. Certification is considered by many to be a measure of industry knowledge as well as leverage when negotiating salary.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

The completion of an internship or co-op at a hardware engineering firm will provide useful experience for aspiring engineers.

Hardware engineers need a broad knowledge of and experience with computer systems and technologies. You need strong problem-solving and analysis skills and good interpersonal skills. Patience, self-motivation, and flexibility are important. Often, a number of projects are worked on simultaneously, so the ability to multitask is important. Because of rapid technological advances in the computer field, continuing education is a necessity.