What is Computer Engineering?
The term “computer engineering” covers a range of intertwined IT disciplines. The three general branches of computer engineering are hardware, software, and network engineering.
There are many ways to define a computer engineer, and a common definition is an IT professional who has network, systems, and software engineering experience. Computer engineer is also used to describe someone who has a background in electrical engineering.
What Does a Computer Engineer Do?
So, what does a computer engineer do? That depends on their career of choice. In general, computer engineers meet the technology needs and goals of an organization and computer engineering is a combination of computer science and electrical engineering. More specifically:
- Software engineers work with computer programming, smartphone applications, and software development.
- Hardware engineers design and maintain physical products.
- Network engineers design and maintain systems and networks.
A computer engineer’s role encompasses a wide range of responsibilities to maximize system operations. From system design and maintenance, operation analysis, installing and updating software, to all network modifications—these responsibilities fall within a computer engineer’s range of skills.
The IT sector is constantly evolving, with new fields of study emerging frequently and computer engineers often specialize in different fields. Their expertise can include security, power management, thermodynamics, digital logic design, processor interfacing, algorithm implementation, software design, information systems, networks, and computer architecture among many other specializations.
The most demanding role of the job may be communication. Computer engineers are often required to communicate detailed and complicated technical information to their less technically knowledgeable colleagues. They often communicate directly with clients and vendors, which calls for impeccable active listening skills.
Computer engineers must also be decisive. Part of their communication role is to assess a situation and communicate their recommendation to upper management and team members to help guide their decision making for the most beneficial solution. Computer engineers’ ideas, knowledge, and expertise are invaluable—no successful project development phase has been brought to a satisfactory end without their input.
As you can see, it is not only the skill set that defines a good computer engineer. Rather, it is a fine mixture of character, interpersonal skills, technical knowledge, and psychology that makes a professional truly outstanding.
Computer engineers are employed by businesses from all industries, and they can choose whether to work for a small, large, local, or international company or work remotely. Remote software and network engineering jobs are popular because they offer advanced career prospects, international work experience, the flexibility to work from home, and the work hours and responsibilities do not differ much from onsite positions.
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Most computer engineering positions require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field (e.g., hardware or software development). Most computer engineers have an advanced degree and/or additional certification. Your academic and certification focus can help you specialize within the technology field.
The Salary of a Computer Engineer
Regardless of your computer engineering specialization, you can expect a competitive salary even though there can be a wide spectrum of salaries, which is dependent on the business industry and the computer engineer’s education and experience level. Entry-level computer engineers can earn a starting level salary of approximately $55,000 and experienced computer engineers earn salaries ranging anywhere from $86,000 to $136,000. In the U.S., the following engineers can expect a median pay of:
- Software engineers: $110,140 (2020)
- Hardware engineers: $128,170 (2021)
- Network engineers: $120,520. (2021)
These are among the highest starting salaries nationwide, not to mention that computer engineering jobs offer strong advancement prospects. Network engineers have most options because this specialization doesn’t necessarily require a degree and there are numerous certifications available. A computer engineer’s company may often finance certifications and education allowing their engineers to gradually advance to senior positions.
Computer engineers are in high demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software engineer jobs are expected to rise 22% through 2030 with network and hardware engineering positions growing 5% and 2% through 2030, respectively. With cloud computing and VoIP services expanding at a rapid pace, additional job prospects are certain to follow.
Is Computer Engineering a Good Career Choice?
One of the best benefits about a career as a computer engineer is the vast career options and specializations that are available. No matter which area of study you engage in, there will always be work, and as noted earlier, this profession will continue to grow.
Are Computer Engineers in Demand?
Computer engineers are in extremely high demand no matter where they work in the technology field, and their salaries reflect that handsomely. We are living in a digital world these days, and if you're wondering what computer engineering does, all you have to do is look in your own house. The engineers out there are maintaining your Wi-Fi connections, your fiber optic cables, and when your computer breaks, they're fixing it for you. We need computer engineers to function properly in today's world.
The Question “What is Computer Engineering” Unraveled
Again, what is computer engineering? Although it appears to be a geeky profession at first, that statement cannot be more detached from the truth. Engineering is a state of mind, an exquisite mind that solves all issues on the go, helps management make the right decision, and encourages colleagues to further their knowledge seamlessly.