logo

Engineering Career Resources


Computer Engineer Job Description

Computer engineers analyse computers and computer systems and they design, manufacture, implement, install and test applications, computer components, related equipment, and computer applications for industrial and commercial use. They mainly deal with computer hardware and sometimes with software integration. Their work can also entail evaluation of computer systems, design and development, and providing maintenance and technical support.

Computer engineering professionals usually create, produce, and test hardware and software applications made for computer networks and systems. Since computers are essential to most businesses and organisations, computer engineers can work across a wide range of industries in both the public and private sectors.

Skills

Computer engineering is a very broad term and the set of skills can vary greatly from one occupation to another, depending on whether it is more related to hardware or software engineering. For any particular computer engineering job, employers seek out candidates with very specific skills and experience in dealing with very specific types of hardware and software.

General skills required for computer engineering jobs include critical thinking, the ability to multitask, and a high degree of adaptability to new systems, tools and technologies. The ability to communicate technical information to clients in layman's terms is another valued skill, especially with contractors, who deal with clients directly.

Computer software engineers must be well versed in technical writing and be fluent in programming languages like COBOL, C++, and Java. Since most of their clients are businesses looking to expand their presence on the Internet, they need to have an excellent understanding of the Internet and web applications. Experience with coding, software design, and testing is required for almost all jobs in this particular field.

Computer hardware engineers must have a good understanding of hardware architecture, device drivers, and all computer components – circuit boards, systems, chips, modems, keyboards, and related equipment, like scanners and printers. Experience building personal computers and computer systems is always an asset.

When employed on bigger projects, computer engineers typically work with experts from related fields, for instance programmers, testers and designers, and sometimes also with product developers and marketing executives. Interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate and work efficiently in a team environment are essential for career advancement.

Qualifications

Computer engineers usually have a degree in informational science, computer science or computer engineering, or similar academic qualifications in fields related to electronic engineering, software design, integration of hardware and software, and electrical engineering. Some people embark on a career in computer engineering after earning a degree in mathematics and then take additional courses and receive a professional certification.

Many computer engineers have a background in electrical design engineering or electrical engineering, and after a few years of working as computer engineers, a significant number of them move on to work as network engineers or senior electrical engineers. Others get an MBA and go into consultancy or contracting.

Work

Computer engineers can design and produce computer components such as chips, circuit boards, processors, routers, and memory cards. Depending on the scale of a project and size of the employing organisation, they can be involved in the process from the evaluation stage to testing and maintenance, or any single stage of the project. With sufficient career experience and the right qualifications, they can also oversee projects and be employed in management roles.