Anyone who loves mathematics, logic, computers, and electrical engineering should consider the available careers in computer engineering. This field includes many specializations that support different industries in the economy. Whether you want to design microprocessors or conduct research into the academic study of hardware engineering, you can find a rewarding career path that suits your personal needs and preferences.
How to Prepare for a Career in Computer Engineering
Computer engineers must have at least a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science, or a related field. During high school, advanced courses in math and computer science can prepare students for college coursework in these subjects. As computer engineering is a relatively competitive field, maintaining a high grade point average is very important for engineering students. To maximize the chance of finding employment after college, majoring or minoring in computer science can be a good idea. With knowledge of both hardware and software design, graduates will have the skills needed to perform system design for the widest possible range of devices.
Available Careers in Computer Engineering
The two main categories of careers in hardware engineering are product design and theoretical research. In the first category, jobs such as mobile device design and embedded systems development offer engineers the chance to create devices based on the principles of electrical engineering and good product design. Jobs in this field are projected to grow at about the average rate over the next 10 years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Engineers working in this industry need to have strong skills in physics, logic, mathematics, computer science, and electrical engineering. Candidates with low-level programming skills will have better chances of finding employment than those without any knowledge of software design. From smartphones and tablets to graphics processors and industrial control panels, the products designed by computer engineers are complex, interesting, and varied.
Careers in Computer Engineering Research
If you're the type of person who prefers abstract theory and problem solving to designing products for the market, a career in academic research may be more to your liking. Research positions at universities are quite competitive, but many job openings for computer engineering analysts and theorists will become available over the next 10 years, according to the BLS. This field is projected to grow much faster than average. Whether you work in academia or private industry, a Ph.D. in Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering, or a related field is usually required for this profession. The median annual salary for theorists and analysts is around $114,000, and the top 10 percent of earners make around $140,000 or more.
An alternative to university research is proprietary research at a large technology company such as Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, IBM, Google, Facebook, or Apple. These companies typically have the ability to choose the top candidates from a pool of incredibly qualified professionals. To obtain a position at Google, for example, doesn't require a Ph.D. but does require a level of expertise in the 99th percentile of this field.
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Computer engineering is one of the most important industries in the economy, and many other industries are set to lose jobs to automation as a direct result of advances in artificial intelligence and robotics technology. With the requisite education and expertise, you can look forward to a rewarding and lucrative career in computer engineering.