Computer Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware engineers design and test new computer configurations. They produce designs for manufacture and occasionally will be involved in designing custom hardware for a specific system. Often their primary role is developing electronic circuits that meet new design needs; in many cases the new design need means a faster and smaller chip or internal system for a computer design upgrade. Much of their role is similar to that of an electronics engineer but is focused solely on computers and computer products.
A bachelor's degree in computer science or systems engineering is the baseline for entry into this profession. Many engineering schools also offer post-graduate programs in engineering technology that focus squarely on design and production issues rather than engineering theory. Studies in this area are of particular value in the computer hardware engineering field.
In 2006 there were about 79,000 computer hardware engineers employed in the U.S. according to the Department of Labor. Most worked in the manufacturing sector or with firms that develop peripheral computer devices.
Employment opportunities in this field are expected to grow at a 5% rate over the next several years, much slower than the anticipated job growth overall in this country. Continued offshore outsourcing of computer design and engineering will reduce the need for domestic computer hardware engineers.
10th Percentile $59,170
Median Salary $97,400
90th Percentile $148,590
Source: U.S. Department of Labor