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How To Become A Hardware Engineer: Degree and Career Guide

Hardware and software are words that are quite intimidating when people don't know much about what it means. When the word "hardware" is heard, it is often in the context of heading to a hardware store in an attempt to get tools and equipment for a project that involves laborious work.

This is often intimidating and may cause you to shy away from going anywhere near hardware, but it doesn't always have to do with tools and construction. Instead, hardware and software in the computer and tech industry is an extremely lucrative career.

To become a computer hardware engineer, you would first need to decide if this is the career path for you, you would then need to obtain your degree qualification, you would need to gain experience, and then further and maintain your degree.

Let us take a closer look at the degree and career of a computer hardware engineer and look at the steps you would need to take to pursue this career path.

What Is A Computer Hardware Engineer?

Hardware refers to the actual physical components on which software and data are stored in a computer's processor. As an example, if your brain is the hardware, your mind, thoughts, emotions, and the functions that you are able to carry out are hardwired into your brain and these serve as your human software.

Computer hardware engineers will build and design the components for a computer which will include motherboards, data storage devices, ports that are present on the computer, and every other element that makes a computer system function.

Considering that it is a role of building and constructing, it is quite a hands-on role in that you will actually be building the structures and the components of computer hardware. Over and above building the computer, you will also test the success of the components that you have designed and developed. This makes your job quite inclusive from start to end, requiring your attention and involvement in the design, development, building, and testing of the components.

What Does A Computer Hardware Engineer Do?

When you think of computer components that are built by hardware engineers, you may just think of the drives and components that exist in your laptop and computer, or even in your phone. However, it goes beyond that, and they even design the computer components that go into vehicles and other machinery that require computer processors.

Once their piece of hardware has been created and tested and it proves to be a success, you can't just have one piece of hardware in existence. Chances are that it needs to be replicated and multiplied for mass production for other updates and other components.

This means that a hardware engineer will need to design detailed and accurate blueprints that can be accurately and adequately replicated, and they update and enhance existing hardware components.

Additionally, hardware engineers and software engineers work closely together to produce a final and holistic digital system that works seamlessly together. Without these two very important components, we wouldn't have access to the digital world that we have now.

Steps To Become A Hardware Engineer

Step One: Decide If This Is The Career Path For You

Before you can enroll in a course or decide to pursue a program as a computer hardware engineer, there are several steps that you need to take prior to make sure that this is the career path for you. The first thing you need to decide is if it is a career you are hoping to pursue and if it is something that you enjoy doing.

If you have always found yourself with a tool in hand and if you have found yourself enjoying taking things apart and putting them back together, then this could be a career path that you could possibly follow. The important thing to note is that while this is a lucrative career, salary cannot be the only thing that keeps you in a career.

If you enjoy working with your hands and using tools, if you enjoy building Legos, and if you enjoy soldering, then this may be a suitable career path for you.

Step Two: Assess Your Skills

There are some important skills that you need to have as a computer hardware engineer. You would need to make sure you have these skills in place before considering applying to a degree or a qualification program. These skills are critical thinking skills, reading and comprehension skills, and creativity skills. If you know you have these innate skills, you can guarantee that you will succeed in your degree course.

Step Three: Obtain A Bachelor's Degree

The next step is for you to pursue a bachelor's degree either in the field of computer engineering, computer science, or electrical engineering, each of which will prepare you for a career in computer hardware engineering.

These degree programs will teach you skills in mathematics, physics, and computer science, and you will learn skills pertaining to computer processors, memory, and hard drives, and you will learn how to operate and develop peripheral and subsidiary equipment like keyboards, mice, and monitors.

Step Four: Gain Experience

The best way to gain experience is either through an entry-level role or by pursuing an internship. These options are actually great to consider while you are completing your degree program or once you have finished your degree. This will allow you to gain direct experience under the supervision of hardware engineers who are more experienced and who have developed their own experience in the field.

This will also give you the opportunity to network with individuals and organizations in the field providing you with greater career prospects.

Step Five: Consider Your Higher Degree

While it is not a necessity, considering a graduate degree program in the form of a master's degree will enhance your prospects for senior-level positions.

Step Six: Maintain Your qualification

While not as fast developing as computer software engineering, there are still several developments and advancements that constantly take place in this sector. You would need to stay abreast of these developments to make sure that your skills adapt to changes.

Where Do Hardware Engineers Work?

Computer hardware engineers can work in almost any industry and in any field but in most cases, they would work in companies and organizations that focus on computer hardware engineering such as computer and phone manufacturing, automotive and airline industries, and computer and information systems.

What Is The Salary And Job Outlook For Computer Hardware Engineers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer hardware engineers earn a median annual salary of $128,179. The employment expects a projected 5% growth over the next ten years with about 5,300 jobs opening each year for the next ten years.


What Industries Hire Computer Hardware Engineers?

A variety of industries such as telecommunications, healthcare, aerospace, and automotive actively seek to employ computer hardware engineers.

Can I Work As A Computer Hardware Engineer If I Am A People Person?

This particular role actually requires you to work in teams quite often, and while your human interactions may not always be outward-facing and dealing with clients, you will need to work with internal teams and even software developers.

Is A Role As A Computer Hardware Engineer Worth It?

When you consider that you can earn a decent salary in a career that has a decent growth projection, this career may very well be worth it.


Having a unique love for computers and working with your hands may make the role of a computer hardware engineer a great career path for you. You could experience endless success, a great income, and work in creating elements that will always be needed in today's society.

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