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How Do I Start a Career in Computer Engineering?

People working in computer engineering typically hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or another relevant field.
A person interested in pursing a career in computer engineering must learn the functions of a computer's electronic components.
Computer engineers are often employed by server farms.
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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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A career in computer engineering can start a number of different ways, depending on your resources, skills and goals. Your career choices can also differ, depending on whether you are interested in software or hardware engineering. Many people obtain a bachelor's degree in computer science or computer engineering before entering the job market. To advance beyond a certain point within a company, many computer engineers subsequently earn additional degrees and certifications. It is also possible to attain a job in computer engineering without any formal education if you are computer-savvy and highly capable, though this can be a more difficult career path.

The two main ways to attain a career in computer engineering are to attend a four-year school or to enter the job market directly. If you choose to attend school, you should focus on earning a computer science or computer engineering degree. While you study for a four-year degree, you might also want to work part-time in an entry-level technology job such as working at a call center or help desk. It also can be useful to build a project portfolio of software you have created or hardware systems you have designed, depending on what type of computer engineer you want to become.

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It also is possible to get started on a career in computer engineering without obtaining a formal education if attending a four-year school is not an option for you. In this case, you should educate yourself so that you are well versed in computer software, hardware or both. Many entry-level jobs have few or no requirements, though your responsibilities typically will be limited to technical support or other similar duties. If you perform well in these lower level jobs and exhibit proficiency in the necessary skills, you might eventually be able to move up to more advanced computer engineering positions.

Another way to begin a career in computer engineering is to work for yourself or as a freelancer, particularly if you are interested in software. It can be difficult to build a software business from scratch, but there are many opportunities for innovative people to engineer software solutions for various niche markets. In this case, it is important to develop your software engineering skills and then identify a niche market that is under-served. Computer software engineers who work on projects for Internet- and mobile-based platforms can often create products by themselves or with very small teams.

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momothree
Post 4

@shell4life- I think that it is wonderful that your dad pretty much self-taught himself and landed a great career in the process.

My son's best friend is a computer science major and specifically wants to work with software. Up until he started college, he kind of tinkered around with computers. Much of what he learned came from that "tinkering". He graduates next semester and he already has two job offers. Apparently, computer programmers are in high demand right now.

I am just glad to know him because he is my personal computer aid! I always pay him for working on my computers but I have still saved hundreds of dollars.

shell4life
Post 3

@Oceana - My dad ended up making nearly $30 per hour at the end of his career. I’m not sure what he started out at 30 years ago, but rest assured, he went through several raises over the years.

For one thing, the cost of living went up significantly over such a long period. For another, his expertise became invaluable to the company. At one time, he informed his boss that he had another job offer, and they gave him a good raise just to keep him there.

No one in the whole building had as much knowledge of the workings of the equipment as he did. Training a replacement would have taken years, and my dad was the only one who could have taught one.

Oceana
Post 2

@shell4life - If you don’t mind my asking, how much did your dad end up making toward the end of his 30 years? I am considering going into the field, but I would like to know if I have a lucrative future salary to look forward to in the days nearing my retirement.

It would be nice to make decent money starting out, as well. Though I’ve always had the security of my future in mind, I would love to be able to enjoy my life as I work toward that goal. It would be great to be able to afford to travel for vacations, as well as to buy that swimming pool I’ve always wanted.

shell4life
Post 1

My dad is a largely self-taught computer engineer. He took a few courses through the mail back in the day, but other than what he read in books, he learned through doing.

He worked at an IT place for years. He made good money even back in the 1970s. He eventually got a job with a local television station, and he worked there for 30 years. As his level of experience went up, so did his salary.

In addition to his full-time job, he worked on people’s computers in his spare time for cash. He was extremely popular around the neighborhood for this.

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