How To Become a Computer Engineer (Courses, Skills and Salary)

How To Become a Computer Engineer

The need for computer engineers will only keep rising as the world’s dependence on electronic devices continues. Computer engineering is a dynamic profession that integrates innovation with technology.

The profession offers many opportunities, so learn how to become a computer engineer in this post. Computer engineering demands specific skills, including attention to detail, persistence, and patience. You also need to have a knack for solving problems.

Showing interest in this profession is only a tiny portion of your journey to being a sought-after computer engineer. Keep reading to find out everything you need to achieve your dream.

What Does a Computer Engineer Do?

Computer engineers employ technical ability and knowledge, analytical skills, attention to detail, and innovation to develop, install, test, and maintain software, network, and hardware systems. As a computer engineer, you will perform tests, solve issues, and make sure the technologies meet the needs of your clients.

Computer engineers specialize in specific fields- network engineering, software engineering, and hardware engineering. However, as technology expands, the field expands, leading to more specialty fields like artificial engineering, virtual reality, and robotics.

Before putting in the work, effort, and money into becoming a computer engineer, knowing what this profession entails is essential. This will help you decide whether computer engineering is truly your desired career path.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Computer Engineer?

It takes 4 to 7 years to complete training to be a computer engineer. You will spend the first two years of your bachelor’s degree course general education and prerequisites computer engineering courses. The last 2 years deal with mathematics, electrical engineering, computer science foundational classes. 

If you decide to do a master’s degree, you will spend two additional years in school. In addition, you can pursue PhD to advance your skills and achieve your professional objectives.

Where Do Computer Engineers Work?

Computer engineers are well-sought-out professionals in today’s world, with recruitment continuously on the rise. Training in computer engineering puts you in a position to work in various fields. Below are some exciting fields you could work in:

  • Computer Programming
  • Multimedia Programming
  • Web Developing
  • Software Development
  • Data Organizations
  • Car Manufacturing
  • Electronic Corporations
  • Technical Support
  • Game Developing
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Database Administration
  • Data Science
  • Firmware Engineering
  • Information Security
  • IT Consultancy

Which Computer Engineer Has Highest Salary?

Knowing the amount of money you would be earning is vital when choosing a career. On average, a computer engineer in the United States earns $102 450 annually, with new graduates making $61 000- $76 000 every year. Hourly, you will earn about $49.25.

Below is a table with the average salaries for software engineers, hardware engineers, and computer engineers.

 Software EngineerHardware EngineerComputer Engineer
Junior$59 800$69 000$64 400
Intermediate$110 101$117 852$102 350
Senior$168 230$167 030$161 368

Companies that pay computer engineers the highest are Google, LinkedIn, Apple, Facebook, and HP. On average, computer engineers at Google get $124 000 annually. A Google’s senior computer engineer is paid $285 000 or higher.

CompanyAnnual Salary
Google$124 000
LinkedIn$122 000
Apple$120 000
Facebook$119 000
HP$118 000

How To Become a Computer Engineer

Now that you know what computer engineering entails and how much money you will earn, how do you become a computer engineer? The section below details the steps you will need to take.

1. Earn A Computer Engineering Bachelor’s Degree

Typically, a computer engineer has a degree in computer engineering or a related field like software engineering or computer science. The course takes four years. Make sure you join a program that is accredited via the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

ABET accreditation ensures the program provides quality education. It also ensures your training meets the credentialing and graduate-level admissions requirements and what employers need. You can pursue an ABET-accredited computer engineering program on-campus or online.

The best schools with top computer engineering programs are:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cornell University

2. Get A Master’s Degree (Optional)

While you can secure a computer engineering job with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree makes you more attractive to employers. It also puts you in a position to earn higher salaries and advance your career more swiftly.

A computer engineering master’s degree takes two years and is available on-campus or online. The typical requirements you need to pursue a master’s degree in computer engineering are:

  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • A relevant bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited university or college
  • Transcripts showing you completed the prerequisite courses
  • A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) passing score
  • Three recommendation letters
  • A 500 to 600 words statement of purpose
  • Completed application

3. Gain Work Experience and Skills

You will need practical experience to establish yourself as an expert computer engineer, which many employers will pursue. You will gain valuable skills and experience through internships, training, professional courses, or work.

Many schools partner with organizations and businesses to help students secure internships in companies such as Apple and Microsoft. You can also choose to secure an internship on your own. Besides helping you gain experience; you could secure full-time employment from the said company upon graduating.

Develop communication, problem-solving, management, design sense, and creativity to enhance work efficiency.

4. Get Licensed

You can work as a computer engineer without getting licensed, but you will likely get more opportunities if you are a licensed professional computer engineer. Below are what you need to be licensed:

  • An engineering bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited program
  • Four years of work experience
  • Pass engineering fundamental exams
  • Pass the professional engineering examination. It lasts 8 hours.

5. Get Certified

You do not require professional certifications to work as a computer engineer but getting certified enhances your skills and knowledge. It also puts you in an excellent position to get into thrilling professional roles.

Certification exams benchmark your skills. Project Management and VM Ware, Cisco Network, and Microsoft Systems Administration (MCSA) are common certification categories. Also, consider specializing in a field with opportunities that you are interested in to set you apart from other computer engineers.

 How to Become a Computer Engineer Without a Degree

Although receiving formal training is the path many take to pursue computer engineering, you can bypass the process and train yourself without going to school. This will take a lot of practice, patience, and passion.

1. Accumulate Knowledge

Join training classes or shadow a professional to acquire the knowledge you would get from pursuing a degree in computer engineering. Also, read books or online materials. If you want to pursue software engineering, consider enrolling in code courses and practicing coding to hone this skill.

2. Attend Boot Camps

Many educational institutions run in-person or online boot camps for computer engineering. By joining one, you will acquire basic computer engineering skills within the duration the boot camp will operate.

These programs help you acquire knowledge offered by computer engineering degree programs within a shorter duration. This will also cost you considerably less than a degree course.

3. Find A Mentor

Take time to connect with professionals in computer engineering by going to networking events. If you get lucky, you will find someone to guide you in your pursuit of becoming a computer engineer. People who have worked in the industry for a while have knowledge and lessons to help advance your learning.

4. Gain Work Experience

You must put the acquired knowledge to practice to gauge your skills. So, seek internships or work in small companies since their employment requirements are usually less stringent.

How Do I Start Computer Engineering in High School?

You do not need to wait until college to pursue computer engineering. Get the ball rolling in high school to increase your chances of getting into your dream computer engineering program. Early preparation will also help you acquire the credits you will need to pursue this career in higher education.

Below is what you should do in high school to ease and solidify your computer engineering pursuits.

1. Take Science and Math Classes

Computer engineering courses involve plenty of science and math classes. So, strengthen your knowledge by taking the most advanced science and math classes in high school. Moreover, you can study STEM independently.

2. Join STEM Extra Curriculum Activities

Join STEM-related clubs in school to interact with like-minded peers, learn, and even undertake exciting projects. These clubs include:

  • Robotics Club
  • Engineering Club
  • Physics Club
  • Math Club
  • Coding club
  • Chemistry Club

If these clubs do not exist in your high school, take the initiative and start one.

3. Join Competitions

Participating in relevant competitions helps you gauge your skills, challenge yourself, and even win awards. Some STEM contests you should consider competing include Intel International Fair, Science Fair, Math Olympiad, and Science Olympiad.

4. Get Practical Experience

Real-world experience is beneficial, so looking into internships, volunteering, or job shadowing. Check if your parents, guardians, counselors, or teachers have connections that could help you get into an internship or volunteer program.

5. Attend Computer Engineering Camps

Build your passion and skills for computer engineering by attending camps. You will be able to interact and learn from experts, engage in solving problems, and even form lasting friendships. These opportunities will also help you acquire and strengthen your team working skills.

Final Remarks

Whether you pursue computer engineering by doing a bachelor’s degree or going the unconventional route by learning independently, you must be focused and dedicated. Ensure the path you take when pursuing computer engineering aligns with your interests and puts you in the best position to become an expert computer engineer.


Tom is a network engineer and a tech consultant. He spends his time solving networking problems while keeping tabs with the latest in the technology field.

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