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How to Become a Computer Hardware Engineer

Having a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school is the best way to become a computer hardware engineer.


Most entry-level computer hardware engineers have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, although a degree in electrical engineering generally is acceptable. A computer engineering major is similar to electrical engineering but with some computer science courses added to the curriculum.

Many engineering programs are accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Some employers prefer students from an accredited program. To prepare for a major in computer or electrical engineering, students should have a solid background in math and science.

Because hardware engineers commonly work with computer software systems, a background in computer programming usually is needed. This background may be obtained through computer science courses. Some school programs offer co-ops or internships that can provide job experience.

Some large firms or specialized jobs require a master’s degree in computer engineering. Some experienced engineers obtain a master’s degree in business administration. All engineers must continue their learning over the course of their careers to keep up with rapid advances in technology.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Computer hardware engineers analyze complex equipment to determine the best way to improve it.

Creativity. Computer hardware engineers design new types of information technology devices.

Critical-thinking skills. These engineers use logic and reasoning to clarify goals, examine assumptions, and identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions to problems.

Problem-solving skills. Computer hardware engineers identify complex problems in computer hardware, develop and evaluate possible solutions, and figure out the best way to implement them.

Speaking skills. Engineers often work on teams and must be able to communicate with other types of engineers as well as with non-technical team members.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition