How to Become a Computer Engineer

By | February 9, 2024

As a computer engineer, you’ll need to know a lot about computers and their various functions. You’ll also need to be familiar with the various software programs that are used to create and operate computers. In addition, you’ll need to know how computer security works and how to prevent data breaches.

What Does a Computer Engineer Do? - Best School News

Learn About Being a Computer Engineer


computer engineers are responsible for developing, maintaining, and operating electronic machines. They work in a variety of industries and have many different roles in a company. In order to be a computer engineer, you need to have a degree in computer science or engineering. However, the most important thing you can do is to be certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in the field of computer engineering. This ensures that you are up-to-date on the latest standards and that you are able to meet the challenges of today’s industry.

What Does a Computer Engineer Do?

A computer engineer is responsible for ensuring that computer systems function properly and are able to meet the specific requirements of their users. They work on developing software, hardware, and designs for different types of computer systems. In addition, they may also be involved in developing new ways to connect to the internet or other computer networks. Computer engineers are also responsible for maintaining the systems and data within a company or organization.

Computer engineers design, test, implement and maintain computer software and hardware systems. They ensure that both the physical hardware components and software programming components work together smoothly for their clients. Some computer engineers specialize in fields like robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, mobile apps and operating systems. Computer engineer duties include:

  • Researching software and computer hardware

  • Designing and testing computer hardware components, such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices and routers

  • Writing and testing software for mobile devices and computers

  • Designing, setting up and testing networks

  • Managing operating systems

  • Designing and testing robots

  • Creating programming to support a range of products, from aircraft components to surgical technology

Computer Engineer Salary

Do you want to be a computer engineer? If so, you need to know that the average salary for computer engineers is very high. In fact, the median salary for computer engineers is over $100,000. That’s not all though. Computer engineers can also enjoy other great career opportunities such as working in software engineering or software testing. So if you want to make a lot of money as a computer engineer, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

Average salary

Computer engineers are usually full-time employees, although some work on a part-time, freelance or contract basis. Their salaries depend on their education level, experience and the size of the company in which they work. The type and industry in which they work can also affect their wages.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $83,159 per year

  • Some salaries range from $22,000 to $176,000 per year

Computer engineer requirements

Becoming a computer engineer has several requirements, including:


Most positions in this field require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Some computer engineers also major in mathematics, software engineering or electrical engineering.

Many engineers also have master’s degrees or doctorates. Obtaining a Master of Business Administration in addition to an undergraduate engineering degree can help an engineer if they are interested in corporate leadership. Computer engineers can also earn master’s degrees in computer science to specialize their knowledge in a specific subject. A doctorate is useful for those who are interested in research or teaching jobs.


Much of a computer engineer’s training will take place while obtaining their education, whether by completing hands-on projects, in labs or during internships. Once hired, a computer engineer will receive training from their employer in the specific systems and requirements of the company.

Computer engineers can also receive off-the-job training in the form of conferences and seminars. During a conference, a computer engineer can learn the latest updates in computer frameworks, new programming languages and different technologies. They can also network with fellow professionals who can share knowledge and information on industry trends.


Computer engineers can acquire several certifications that demonstrate their expertise in different types of software, hardware and programming languages. Here are some examples of certifications for computer engineers:


Cisco offers levels of certifications for computer engineers at various stages of their careers. This includes the Cisco Certified Network Associate, which teaches how to install, monitor and troubleshoot Cisco infrastructure products. Cisco Certified Network Professional is for those with at least one year of networking experience and teaches network planning, implementation and troubleshooting. Cisco Certified Design Professional teaches advanced routing protocols and integration strategies.


A Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate demonstrates expertise with Microsoft solutions, such as Azure, SQL 2016 and Universal Windows Platform. Microsoft also offers the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer, which requires candidates to first earn the MCSA certification and then pass development and programming exams that enhance a developer’s abilities in application development.

Professional Software Engineering Master Certification

This certificate shows proficiency in 12 areas, including quality control, software engineering and management. Applicants must pass two exams to receive this certificate, which is sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society.

Certified Information Security Manager

Offered by a nonprofit called ISACA, this certification shows the recipient has the ability to design and oversee information security systems. To earn this certification, candidates must have at least five years of experience in information security and need to pass an exam. Those who earn this certification must renew it every three years, and they need to submit proof of continuing education.


Computer engineers need several soft and hard skills to help them do their job well. Here are some examples:

Programming and coding

Computer engineers need to code in multiple languages, such as JavaScript, SQL, Python, C++ and HTML. Although it is not necessary to know all of them, most engineers are fluent in one or two, especially those that are similar to one another.


A computer engineer’s job entails identifying a problem, developing a solution, implementing the solution and troubleshooting the result. This requires a detail-oriented and meticulous analysis of each task they complete.

Time management

Computer engineers often juggle several projects or multiple aspects of one large project. An engineer should be able to prioritize tasks, make and adhere to deadlines and create timelines for work completion.


Computer engineers work with clients, managers, teammates, marketing departments and technicians. Clear and open communication will ensure the engineer understands the client’s expectations and that the client understands the engineer’s plan. A mutual understanding of expectations will ease a project to a satisfactory conclusion. Computer engineers should also be able to use nontechnical terms when communicating with those unfamiliar with the industry.


Computer engineers collaborate on teams with designers, testers, systems experts, security experts, researchers, salespeople and marketing employees who work together to launch a product. Software engineers must be able to delegate, accept responsibilities and share ideas with all team members.

Computer engineer work environment

Computer engineers typically work in an office setting. Since they perform most of their work on a computer, they may work remotely in many situations. Computer engineers can usually expect the following from their work environment:

  • Computer engineers constantly use technology, including mobile phones, laptops and tablets. If they specialize in hardware, they will handle circuit boards, keyboards and monitors.

  • Some level of regular continuing education is necessary as the field constantly evolves. Computer engineers will have to learn and certify in new programs or technology and update their knowledge of programming languages to stay current.

  • Computer engineers will work physically or remotely with other engineers, technology experts and clients.

  • They can expect to sit for extended periods of time at a desk while working at a computer.

Industries for computer engineers

Computer engineers can find employment in different industries and can work in many different capacities. Here are some examples of places where computer engineers can find work:

  • Software or hardware corporations

  • Aeronautical firms

  • Defense contractors

  • The federal government

  • Gaming and entertainment companies

  • Financial industry

  • Healthcare industry

  • Educational institutions

  • Research institutions

How to become a computer engineer

Here are some steps that you can follow to become a computer engineer:

1. Pursue an education

A bachelor’s degree is the entry-level requirement for a computer engineering job. Consider earning a degree in engineering, computer science or a related field. If you want to specialize in a computer engineering field, such as big data analytics or networking, it is best to earn a master’s degree. A doctoral degree can help you land a research or teaching position.

2. Gain work experience

It is helpful to have some experience in the technology industry before you begin applying for computer engineering jobs. You can gain work experience as an IT support specialist or computer technician to demonstrate your ability to work in the field. Consider completing an internship during your college career to get hands-on experience and make valuable connections in the industry.

3. Earn certifications

You can choose to earn an array of hardware, software and security certifications from corporations and third-party organizations. These will demonstrate your expertise in different programming languages, operating systems and software test procedures.

4. Create a resume

List your education, skills and job experience, with the most relevant and recent experience first, along with the names of the organizations and the length of time you worked there. Include skills that you can apply to the job, such as any programming languages, or soft skills, like communication or teamwork. If you earned any certifications, add them to your resume.

5. Search for positions

Locate positions in your desired industry and region. Make sure you meet the minimum qualifications for the job and follow the application instructions to ensure hiring managers receive your resume and cover letter. It can be helpful to tailor your application materials to the job to stand out from other candidates.

Computer engineer job description example

We are seeking a computer engineer to lead a team that will design and test virtual reality components for a startup gaming company. The successful candidate will have a working knowledge of Unity, Unreal Engine and C++. Minimum 5 years of experience, with 3 years in game design and implementation, and a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field are requirements. Role will be to serve as the lead engineer on team creating a VR racing game. Candidate will be responsible for understanding the technical requirements, testing the features and implementing feedback required by the designers.


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