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How Do I Become a Computer Hardware Engineer?

Computer hardware engineers are responsible for designing and testing components like computer chips.
Some information technology (IT) professionals are certified in hardware management.
Traditional classroom instruction is part of the path to becoming a computer hardware engineer.
An engineer might be called on to troubleshoot complex electronic circuitry in a computer.
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  • Written By: T. L. Childree
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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Computer hardware engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and testing the circuit boards, chips, and other hardware utilized in computers. You must possess good analytical thinking skills, be detail-oriented, and enjoy working with a team to become a computer hardware engineer. A bachelor’s degree in computer or electrical engineering is typically required for this career and preparation should begin in high school. Professional certification may be needed for this occupation and is offered by several recognized organizations. After you become a computer hardware engineer, you will play an important role in the design and development of new hardware for industrial, scientific, and commercial applications.

A number of important personal qualities are needed to become a computer hardware engineer. You must be a curious and creative person to design and develop the new hardware needed to keep-up with rapidly changing software technology. Good analytical thinking skills and attention to detail are also required to effectively design, test, and troubleshoot the complex electronic circuitry utilized in computer hardware. These engineers typically work as part of a diverse team of professionals, and excellent communications and interpersonal skills are essential for success in this field. Strategic planning and leadership skills may also be needed if you are called upon to personally manage a design and development team.

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Preparation for this career should begin in high school by completing coursework in subjects such as math and science. Advanced classes in physics, calculus, and chemistry along with computer science will also help to prepare you for this profession. Additionally, a bachelor’s degree in computer or electrical engineering is usually required to become a computer hardware engineer. Coursework for this degree typically includes subjects such as the interaction between software and hardware applications, electronic circuitry and components, and computer networks. You will also receive hands-on laboratory training along with traditional classroom instruction.

Professional certification is sometimes required for this profession and is available from several organizations. In the United States, a number of widely-recognized certifications are offered by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). A well-known international certification can be obtained through the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). Qualified candidates must successfully complete a knowledge and skills examination to receive professional certification. Exam preparation and training materials are available from both organizations and periodic recertification is required.

A computer hardware technician designs, develops, and tests new components for various industrial, scientific, and commercial applications. These hardware components typically consist of computer chips, circuit boards, and peripheral devices, such as printers, keyboards, and routers. As an engineer, you may also be involved in manufacturing and installation, technical support, or research. It is also possible to work in an administrative capacity with additional education and work experience.

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