What is Computer Engineering?

computer engineering

Computer engineering is a field of engineering that integrates computer science with electronic engineering. Often referred to as computer hardware engineering, this branch of engineering deals with the designing, developing, researching and testing of computers and computer-related equipment. Becoming a computer engineer requires a degree but offers various career choices and employment opportunities. With computers and computer-based equipment being used in almost every area of our lives, computer engineers will always be in demand.

Related Ranking: 5 Most Affordable Ph.D. in Computer Science and Computer Engineering Degrees Online

Computer Engineering Defined

Computer hardware engineering is a branch of engineering having to do with computers and computer-related supplies and equipment. Computer engineers not only research, design and develop computers and equipment but also manufacture and install computers and computerized equipment. They also oversee the manufacturing process of computers and perform any upgrades that may be needed to ensure the product runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. They create new computer programs, computer interfaces, computer networks and applications, such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

Computer hardware engineering is not just used in the design and installation of computers for homes and businesses. It’s also used in the design and development of the numerous computerized medical devices and equipment as well as in the automotive industry. All the modern computerized equipment we see in our vehicles today generally come from the services of computer hardware engineers. It’s safe to say that computer hardware engineering is used in almost all area of our lives.

How to Become a Computer Engineer

To become a computer engineer, an individual must have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer hardware or software engineering, computer science or electronic engineering. Although some large corporations may require a master’s degree, many computer hardware engineers are only required to have a bachelor’s degree. Students pursuing an engineering degree should choose programs that are accredited by ABET because they include the type of curriculum generally required by industries hiring engineers.

Aspiring engineers should have a solid background in math and science courses. The student should also be familiar with computer programming because it’s such a large part of computer hardware and software engineering. Engineering students often find completing internships to be very beneficial to learning and gaining experience and hands-on training, and it looks appealing on a job resume.

Career Outlook and Salary Potential

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that computer hardware engineers should see an employment growth of five percent during the 2016-2026 decade. Although the demand for software engineers seems to be overshadowing computer hardware engineers slightly, there will still be a demand for computer hardware engineers as industries other than the computer industry will continue to need more computer-based equipment.

As of May 2017 salary report by the BLS, computer hardware engineers earned wages ranging from $66,290 to $176,900. The average annual and hourly wages were $119,650 and $57.52, respectively. ComputerCareers.org reports that the computer engineer’s annual wage of $102,450 is about 106% higher than the average wage in the U.S. They also report that computer hardware engineers earn about five percent more than computer software engineers.


Almost everywhere we look today, we either see computers or something that’s computer-driven or operated by computer parts. In some way or another, they came about through the talent and knowledge of those involved in computer engineering.

Related Resources: