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.
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.