What Do Computer Hardware Engineers Do?
Computer hardware is a physical piece of equipment and/or data storage that we use in conjunction with computers. These include hard drives, printers, CDs, and more. As an engineer behind the development of these products, your duty would be in the phase of research as well as design, as you develop and test computer or computer-related equipment for a range of uses, including commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use. Engineers sometimes supervise the manufacturing process.
Computer Hardware Engineers Skills and Abilities
Hardware engineers must have knowledge of all of the components of a computer, such as circuit boards and processors, as well as programming and applications knowledge. Aside from knowing the principles of engineering and design, a mathematical knowledge that includes Calculus and Statistics will be needed, as well as understanding some Physics. You will have to have a high level of reading comprehension for any work-related documents. Active listening skills will really help. Sometimes you will have to speak or write for a public audience.
Computer Hardware Engineers Duties
This job involves designing hardware and implementing that design. Sometimes you will perform some assembly yourself, though often will be supervising technical personnel in assembly. Some of the duties include:
- Advising customers on the use of products or services
- Assembly of equipment or components
- Conferring with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans
- Creating physical models or prototypes
- Designing electronic or computer equipment or instrumentation
- Determining operational criteria or specifications
- Monitoring processes for compliance with standards
- Preparing procedural documents
- Supervising engineering or other technical personnel
- Testing performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment
- Training personnel on proper operational procedures
Computer Hardware Engineers Tools and Technology
In the process of designing and developing computer hardware, some very specialized equipment will be used. A computer hardware engineer’s toolbox may look like this:
- Circuit tester
- Electronic measuring probe
- Frequency calibrator
- Signal generator
There are a lot of software proficiencies required as well. Analytical and scientific software such as ScanWorks, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, data base user interface and query software such as SQL, development environment software, and object or component oriented development software such as C++ will all be used in this occupation.
Education and Training for Computer Hardware Engineers
This job can be available as an entry-level or require previous experience, depending on the employer. Typically, though, what you will need to be prepared for this job is a Bachelor’s degree or something equivalent. There are special training programs and even college courses where you can learn general Computer Engineering knowledge or receive training specialized to computer hardware.
Computer Hardware Engineers Salary
Computer hardware engineers tend to receive a very high pay, because of the huge amount of knowledge and program proficiencies it takes to be able to design the products, and the quality demanded when it comes to designs. At the low end, you can expect to make over $66,000 in a year. On average, Computer Hardware Engineers net in about $100,000, but if you stick with it you could be making over $160,000 from a year of work, which can be divided to about $77 per hour.
Computer Hardware Engineers Jobs by Geography
By far, California employs the most Computer Hardware Engineers, with over 24,000 working across the state. Behind it is Texas, with almost 9,000 jobs. Working in Calfornia, you could expect to make close to 59 an hour (the median wage in that state). Growth is steady in many states, including Maryland and Virginia which pay similar median wages. Colorado is not too far behind them at a median of $51.66 per hour, and it also has the fastest growing industry among all the other states, making it a very appealing possibility for work as a Computer Hardware Engineer.