The Steps to Becoming a Computer Engineer – Part 1

Computer engineering lies right in the middle of innovation and technology. Computer engineering is also a dynamic field that comes with a number of different career paths in software development and hardware engineers (microprocessors, for example)- each with a pivotal role to play in such industries as healthcare and aerospace. We’re going to look at computer engineering as a career, including its various professional and degree paths, related technologies and skills, employment potential, and earning capacity.

Employment growth and outlook

With an advancing need for technological advancement, it won’t likely surprise anyone to know that around 38 per cent of technology professionals are computer engineers- software (11 per cent) and hardware (27 per cent). That’s according to CompTIA. Between those career paths, however, there is a slightly less positive outlook for hardware engineers than for software engineers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that software development is seeing more innovation and that that there was only a seven per cent national career growth from 2012 to 2022. Software engineering, however, fared much better at 22 per cent, far higher than the national average for all occupations. Factors attributed to the growth include an increased need for mobile technology, venture capitalists providing huge investments in tech startups, and emerging industries.

The steps to take

With an increasing need for advancements in technology, both from consumers and the corporate world, there appears to be an unlimited need for qualified and skilled computer engineers. To become a computer engineer, you need a college education for as little as four years and up to seven.

In Year one and two of a bachelor’s degree, students generally complete computer engineer prerequisites alongside general education courses. The final two years emphasise foundation classes in mathematics, electrical engineering, and computer science. Usually, students are expected to study security, networking, software, and hardware.

A large number of companies prefer that candidates have completed advanced degrees. That would see them study for two more years at master’s level. If an aspiring computer engineer wished to pursue academia or applied research, they would be wise to at least consider a PhD. Here are the steps to becoming a computer engineer.

Earn an associate degree (optional two years)

For those looking for a direct entry programme or who can’t initially attend a four-year programme, an associate degree in the area of IT, such as computer science, at either a trade school or community college, is a valid first step.

It’s possible to save money on tuition when studying at community college while completing general education requirements, as tuition is sometimes less costly than at four-year schools. Further, students should check to find out that any courses they take while studying in the two-year associate degree programme can be transferred to a four-year programme.

Earn a bachelor’s degree

Typically, the majority of employers expect that software engineers minimally hold a bachelor’s degree while companies seeking hardware engineers are typically looking for those with a master’s degree.