Computer engineers design computer hardware and software programs.
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Computer hardware and software engineers work in manufacturing, computer design firms or for government agencies developing computer systems and applications. While engineers may specialize in software applications or hardware systems, computer engineering education programs include coursework in both areas. The computer field advances rapidly, requiring engineers to continue their studies throughout their careers.
Computer software and hardware engineers use engineering principles, mathematics and computer science to create and test software programs and develop the hardware in a computer, such as circuit boards. Hardware and software engineers work together to ensure the components and software programs work together effectively. Software engineers meet with computer users to determine what a software program must accomplish. Computer engineers develop the step-by-step procedures for a software program. Programmers write the code to complete the systematic process the engineer develops. Computer software engineers specialize in applications or systems software programs. Hardware engineers design the hardware components in a computer system, test computer systems and update the hardware to work with new software programs. Engineers may work in the manufacturing industry to oversee the production of computer components.
The minimum requirement for hardware and software engineers is a bachelor’s degree. Employers prefer job candidates who have experience with various computer systems, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some hardware engineers qualify for positions with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and experience with computer systems. Software engineers may complete a degree program in computer science, engineering or programming to qualify for a job in the field. A computer software engineer should have knowledge of a variety of programming languages. Computer engineering programs include courses in computer hardware, computer organization, data analysis, science and advanced mathematics.
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Some employers prefer a computer engineer with a graduate degree in engineering or business administration, according to the bureau. Graduate degrees in computer engineering may also qualify you for senior engineering positions. Master’s degree programs include software and hardware engineering courses. A master’s degree program might require the student to complete a research project to fulfill the requirements of the degree.
Some computer engineering programs require students to complete an internship in the field. The internship allows the computer-engineering student to work under the supervision and direction of professional computer hardware and software engineers. Gaining experience in an internship program may also enhance employment opportunities. Many employers may refuse to hire a computer engineer without some experience in the computer field, states the Bureau of Labor Statistics.