How to Become a Computer Hardware Engineer

It’s no wonder that the boom of computer technology has opened doors for millions of people to reach various job opportunities and high incomes. 

Among them, computer hardware engineering has attracted many students throughout the years. Still, this increasing manpower source has made the job market more competitive.

If you are looking for a position in this field and still wonder about your future path, this article is for you!

What is a Computer Hardware Engineer?

A computer hardware engineer is in charge of designing and developing electronic components of the systems. They include processing units, circuit boards, chips, keyboards, printers, modems, memory, storage devices, data switches, etc.

As a hardware engineer, you can gain a position in different industries, from research, development, and manufacturing to IT. You can either work as a part of a team or work independently based on the company size.

In some cases, you are also responsible for providing and maintaining technical support for internal hardware users.

What Does A Hardware Engineer Do?

Hardware engineers research and analyze complex equipment to see how they may improve it and create new information technology devices.

female hardware engineer
You need to improve your education, skills, knowledge and experience.

Their duties include:

  • Design hardware
  • Create blueprints
  • Test hardware models
  • Analyze test results
  • Modify designs
  • Update existing equipment
  • Work with software engineers
  • Oversee the manufacturing process

The engineers discover hardware problems and come up with potential solutions. They also look for effective ways to put the new adjustments into action.

Hardware and software engineers often collaborate as both are involved in developing the products. For instance, creating a smartphone requires both software and hardware engineering skills.

It’s also important to note that you may have to design computer and non-computer devices. For example, you can develop some medical devices or car parts that have hardware systems and can be connected to the Internet.

How To Become a Hardware Engineer

Below are 4 basic steps that you can follow to land a job in this engineering field.

1. Is Hardware Engineering Suitable For You?

In the beginning, you must determine whether this position is suitable for you. 

Some people are drawn to this occupation because of the high wages, but it is not a strong foundation for such a rigorous job.

working with computer case
Is this job suitable for you?

According to research, most hardware engineers said that they have an enthusiasm for basic computer abilities that they employ on a daily basis.

They spent hours building toys, integrating circuit boards, motors, and computer programming from an early age. Interestingly, the research found that lego toy sets are extremely popular among aspiring engineers.

Next, you should consider if you can use your hand to work in high frequency as this job may require you to solder small components to a circuit board for many hours. 

You should have a good head for writing computer code and new ideas to solve old problems. 

Hardware engineers also have good knowledge of math as they must complete Calculus before graduating. Therefore, you should be able to solve problems mathematically and have a thorough comprehension of science.

2. Enroll In An Accredited Engineering Course

Now that you know you can be a hardware engineer, it’s time to find an engineering program to support your goals.

It’s no surprise that certifications from the ABET (the abbreviation for Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) are always the gold standard for this occupation. 

Even if you had a regionally approved undergraduate certificate, employers would look highly at those with ABET qualifications. This organization has supported more than 700 academic institutions in 31 countries and offers programs in 50 states.

Furthermore, you should seek programs that are most aligned with your personal objectives. For example, some courses may emphasize software integration with hardware rather than the hardware itself.

It’s best if that program has the materials and resources you’ll need to do the research you’re interested in. As a result, if you’re passionate about robotics, search for schools that support such programs.

If you prefer nanotechnology and how to build ultra-small computers, you should look for another curriculum that would match your needs!

3. Acquire Industry Certifications

Unlike civil engineering, hardware engineering does not demand a state license to practice. Nonetheless, you’ll most likely wish to continue your studies.

Because this field is continually growing, it is critical to continue your education to stay productive and competitive. You’ll almost certainly be learning all of the time, so professional certification is always a brilliant idea.

When a national computer engineering organization acknowledges your abilities and expertise, it means you can promote your status in the profession.

When hunting for a job or applying to grad school, you may put letters after your name so that verifiable credentials will set you apart.

The PE Electrical and Computer test is an excellent choice. You’ll be eligible to take the 8-hour exam once you’ve worked in the field for four years.

4. Enroll In A Graduate Program

Though industry certifications and a Bachelor’s degree can help you earn a successful career in this field, there might be a time you would want a graduate school.

You can consider a Master of Business Administration or a Master of Science in Engineering. If you want to be promoted to a personnel manager or start your own firm, you can go for an MBA.

According to experienced engineers, getting an MBA will help them extend their perspectives. The non-analytical components of a business degree are a helpful counterbalance to the quantitative analytical approach of their field. 

You’ll learn how to more effectively integrate and lead a team, as well as have a deeper understanding of your end-users. These skills and knowledge surely will help you develop electrical devices.

What Are Top Skills Needed for Computer Engineering?

Hardware engineering has always been a popular career field for computer enthusiasts.

computer chipset
You need both soft skills and hard skills to perform daily tasks.

To stand out from the crowd, you should master the following skills:

  • Coding and programming
  • Database Knowledge
  • Analytical Mindset
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking
  • Communication and networking

Hard Skills

You should improve your “hard skills,” or specialized skills for a particular activity, role, or industry. 

Some demanding skills for this occupation include programming languages, such as C, C++, and Verilog, as well as engineering and board design skills.

Soft Skills

Not only hard skills, but you should also develop your “soft skills,” which are beneficial in almost all professions. 

As a hardware engineer, you must be creative in your work. You may also address complex issues, which necessitates applying advanced soft skills such as critical thinking, analytical thinking, and problem-solving. 

Even if you work independently on specific tasks, you should also improve your communication skills to meet your customer needs and effectively communicate with other IT experts.

Daily Tasks

Depending on the demands of the business, you may conduct a variety of diagnosis, design, and testing jobs. You will use your imagination to design and create computer hardware and software. 

You have to diagnose and fix problems with hardware designs, storage devices, and media – which will require your problem-solving and analytical skills.

That’s not to mention that you will need to communicate with software developers to guarantee that the hardware and software are compatible.

Potential Career Paths for Hardware Engineers

Engineers that work in computer hardware can work in a range of fields. Indeed, you could start a program focused on inventing new computing systems and concentrate on an area closely related to it.

This way, you may realize that you are more interested in writing code than attaching chips to wafers and pursuing a career that caters to your preferences.

Electronics or Electrical Engineers

You’ll create and test electronic or electrical gadgets. If you work in this field, you may spend your time on the telecommunications system to build and maintain the cellphone network. 

Computer Programmers

You have to study and master one or two programming languages to work in this profession. The Python language is a good option as it’s simple and suitable for beginners.

You should follow the progress of your language and look for ancillary languages that can be used alongside the primary code.

Python language is a great choice.

Mechanical Engineers

A mechanical engineer may have worked on moving parts (if any). You will be responsible for designing and building motors and sensors for many applications. For example, you can develop more efficient wind turbines or a better diesel motor.

Software Developers

What if you prefer writing software? No need to worry! Software developers may collaborate with hardware engineers to ensure that their program can function on a particular platform or take advantage of its unique features and capabilities.

Computer Research Scientists

You’ll be working on the bleeding edge of technology, and you’ll need a master’s degree to work in this field. Your hardware and software solutions will benefit many industries, including medicine, business, and science.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Qualifications Do I Need To Be A Hardware Engineer?

You will need a bachelor’s degree in computer hardware engineering in this work field. If not, computer science or a related field can also be a good alternative.

What Is The Salary Of A Hardware Engineer?

The salaries vary based on many factors, including the specific industry, location of the company, and the position you’re in charge of. 

Specifically, it can range from $81,515 to $216,528, and California is currently the highest-paying state for computer hardware engineers.

According to research, computer systems design gets involved in computer hardware engineering the most (together with other relevant service industries).

Still, scientific research and development services, software publishers, and information services pay the highest incomes to these engineers.

Qualifications and job experience are also deciding factors on your salary. Those with less than ten years of experience can make $71,007 per year, while those with 10 to 19 years can earn $113,337. 

How Can I Get an Entry-Level Job?

A bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline plus some experience with computer hardware and software are the essential requirements for an entry-level career as a computer engineer.

You can find some internships to gain more experience, which will make you stand out from other competitors.

Though some employers do not require you to have prior experience for an internship, it’s best to obtain as much as possible. This way, you will quickly get a part-time or full-time position in this industry. 

Research abilities and communication skills are some requirements to fulfill the obligations and duties of an entry-level computer engineer. 

As long as you can tolerate sitting for long periods and you’re willing to crouch, crawl, or twist to reach cables and plugs, chances are you will get an entry-level job with ease!

What is the workplace of a hardware engineer like?

You may work in research laboratories where you and your team will construct and test different computer models.

There’s a high chance that you will work in some high-tech industrial companies. In some cases, you can apply for government agencies, research and development firms, or computer systems design firms.


This article has outlined a four-step guide on how to become a computer hardware engineer so that you can prepare for your future from now on. The procedure appears to be challenging, but it’s worth a shot!

Even if you don’t think hardware engineering is for you, there are many other similar disciplines to explore! 

Remember that the career path is endless, so don’t give up the game! Work at something you enjoy, and that’s worthy of your time and talent.