a dark blue TraitLab logo
Pricing Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Computer Engineer

Also known as Design Engineer, Engineer, Field Service Engineer, Hardware Design Engineer, Hardware Engineer, Project Engineer, Senior Hardware Engineer, Systems Integration Engineer

Computer Engineer

Also known as Design Engineer, Engineer, Field Service Engineer

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$70,100 - $192,110 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Design
Core tasks
  • Update knowledge and skills to keep up with rapid advancements in computer technology.
  • Design and develop computer hardware and support peripherals, including central processing units (CPUs), support logic, microprocessors, custom integrated circuits, and printers and disk drives.
  • Confer with engineering staff and consult specifications to evaluate interface between hardware and software and operational and performance requirements of overall system.
Is Computer Engineer the right career path for you?

Would Computer Engineer be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Computer Engineer and hundreds of other career paths.

Create your free account

What does a Computer Engineer do?

Computer Engineers research, design, develop, or test computer or computer-related equipment for commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use.

In addition, Computer Engineers may supervise the manufacturing and installation of computer or computer-related equipment and components.

What kind of tasks does a Computer Engineer perform regularly?

Computer Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Update knowledge and skills to keep up with rapid advancements in computer technology.
  • Design and develop computer hardware and support peripherals, including central processing units (CPUs), support logic, microprocessors, custom integrated circuits, and printers and disk drives.
  • Confer with engineering staff and consult specifications to evaluate interface between hardware and software and operational and performance requirements of overall system.
  • Build, test, and modify product prototypes, using working models or theoretical models constructed with computer simulation.
  • Write detailed functional specifications that document the hardware development process and support hardware introduction.
  • Test and verify hardware and support peripherals to ensure that they meet specifications and requirements, by recording and analyzing test data.
  • Direct technicians, engineering designers or other technical support personnel as needed.
  • Provide technical support to designers, marketing and sales departments, suppliers, engineers and other team members throughout the product development and implementation process.
  • Select hardware and material, assuring compliance with specifications and product requirements.
  • Store, retrieve, and manipulate data for analysis of system capabilities and requirements.
  • Analyze user needs and recommend appropriate hardware.
  • Evaluate factors such as reporting formats required, cost constraints, and need for security restrictions to determine hardware configuration.
  • Provide training and support to system designers and users.
  • Monitor functioning of equipment and make necessary modifications to ensure system operates in conformance with specifications.
  • Specify power supply requirements and configuration, drawing on system performance expectations and design specifications.

The above responsibilities are specific to Computer Engineers. More generally, Computer Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

What is a Computer Engineer salary?

The median salary for a Computer Engineer is $119,560, and the average salary is $126,140. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Computer Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Computer Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Computer Engineers earn less than $70,100 per year, 25% earn less than $90,310, 75% earn less than $153,450, and 90% earn less than $192,110.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Computer Engineers is expected to change by 1.7%, and there should be roughly 4,500 open positions for Computer Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
$119,560
Typical salary range
$70,100 - $192,110
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
1.7%

What personality traits are common among Computer Engineers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Computer Engineer are usually higher in their Investigative, Realistic, and Conventional interests.

Computer Engineers typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Computer Engineers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Computer Engineers typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Computer Engineer tend to value Working Conditions, Achievement, and Recognition.

Most importantly, Computer Engineers very strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Second, Computer Engineers strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Computer Engineers strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Computer Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, analytical thinking, and innovation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Computer Engineers, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Innovation
Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Computer Engineers need?

Many Computer Engineers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Computer Engineers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Computer Engineers

  • 0.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 4.8% completed high school or secondary school
  • 8.1% completed some college coursework
  • 8.7% earned a Associate's degree
  • 46.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 26.3% earned a Master's degree
  • 5.9% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Computer Engineers

Computer Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as computers and electronics, engineering and technology, or design knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Computer Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Design
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Physics
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.

Important Abilities needed by Computer Engineers

Computer Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Computer Engineers need abilities such as oral comprehension, written comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Computer Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Critical Skills needed by Computer Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Computer Engineers frequently use skills like reading comprehension, critical thinking, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Computer Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.