Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Surfing the Technology Wave
Computer engineers are among the rock stars of the job market these days, whether they specialize in hardware or software. These are great jobs for working moms who run after small kids all weekend since very little physical exertion is required to earn a great salary. The median salary for computer engineers is almost $75,000 a year, while software developers earn a median salary of over $80,000.
Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks and routers. These engineers discover new directions in computer hardware, which generate rapid advances in computer technology.
A computer software engineer develops and tests the software that make our computers work. They may help in the development of new computer games and business applications, or even in the design of entirely new operating systems. A computer engineer may also be responsible for constructing and managing an organization's computer system and supplying technical support.
You may get out of high school a computer whiz like Steve Jobs, but in order to get a position as a computer engineer, you'll probably need a college degree. Most computer hardware engineers get a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or electrical engineering from an accredited program.
The same is true for those hoping to work in software engineering. If that's your dream, a bachelor's degree in software engineering or computer science are among the best places to start. You'll need coursework in database design, systems analysis, critical thinking and technical writing.
The median salary for hardware engineers is almost $75,000 a year, while software engineers earn a median salary of over $80,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a software developer, usually a software engineer who develops software, is over $100,000. Median means that half of the engineers in the profession earn less while the other half earn more.
According to Salary.com, the difference in salary range between computer engineers with a bachelor's degree and those with a higher degree is about $2,000 annually.
Computer hardware engineers usually work in research laboratories that build and test various types of computer models. Most work in high-tech manufacturing firms.
Years of Experience
Entry level hardware engineers can expect to earn 13 percent less than the average salary, while entry-level software engineers earn about 8 percent less. With five years experience, salaries for those in hardware rise to 15 percent above average, while those in software rise some 9 percent. After a decade, hardware engineers see a salary about 44 percent above average, rising to 52 percent after 20 years experience. Software engineers may get salaries 22 percent above average after a decade, and 32 percent after 20 years.
Job Growth Trends
The job growth trend for software engineers is strong, projected to grow at about 24 percent over the next decade. The employment rate for hardware engineers is less strong over the same period, at around 5 percent growth expected.
- Salary.com: Software Engineer Salary
- Career Trend: Computer Hardware Engineers
- Study.com: Computer Engineers: Career Info & Job Description
- BLS: Coomputer Hardware Engineers
- BLS: Computer Software Developers
- Payscale: Software Engineer
- Payscale: Computer Hardware Engineer
- Study.com: Outlook for the Computer Engineering Fields
Teo Spengler has worked as a trial lawyer, a teacher and a writer at various times in her life, which is one of the reasons she likes to write about career paths. Spengler has published thousands of articles in the past decade including articles providing tips for starting a job or changing careers. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, and Working Mother websites. She holds a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. in fiction.