How To Become A Computer Hardware Engineer: A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 9 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you have an interest in how computer systems work, you may enjoy a career as a computer hardware engineer. Computer hardware engineers build and test computer systems, and often are innovative in developing new hardware technologies to help companies and people across the world. Knowing more about this profession can help you decide if this is a suitable career path for you. In this article, we discuss how to become a computer hardware engineer and outline the skills and educational qualifications required to excel in this career.

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How to become a computer hardware engineer

Follow these steps if you want to learn how to become a computer hardware engineer:

1. Complete higher secondary education

The preparation for being an engineer starts early in your career. After school, consider pursuing your 10+2 from a recognised board in the science stream, with physics, chemistry and mathematics as your main subjects. It is important to secure high marks in your 10+2 board exam, as many engineering colleges select candidates based on their higher secondary results.

2. Clear engineering entrance exams

The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and the Common Entrance Test (CET) are two of the most common engineering entrance exams for admission into undergraduate degree courses like BE and BTech. If you can clear the JEE Main exam, you can get admission into one of the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) located across the country. You can also take the JEE Advanced exam if you want to get admission into one of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)

Attempt engineering entrance exams based on your city, state and other preferences. Apart from the CET and JEE, some colleges have their own entrance exams that come with a slightly modified syllabus. Make sure you attempt more than one entrance exam to increase the chances of being accepted at a university.

3. Earn a bachelor's degree and undertake projects while studying

The next step to becoming a computer hardware engineer is earning a bachelor's degree. Most employers prefer hiring computer hardware engineers with a BTech or B.E. in computer science or electrical engineering. Instead of diverting all your efforts to good grades, invest time in developing projects that get the attention of future recruiters. This way, you can build your portfolio and create an example of your project development skills while studying. Some project ideas are hardware remodelling for a CPU (central processing unit) and PCB (printed circuit board) design for a computer.

4. Complete an internship

Either during undergraduate studies or immediately after graduation, you can benefit from completing an internship. An internship is often required by your collegiate program, but you can take one voluntarily as well. Here, you can get direct experience working with computer hardware, learn more about developing hardware in a monitored setting and gain important networking contacts you can use to find a job.

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5. Pursue an advanced degree

While not generally required, some larger companies may prefer candidates to have a master's degree in computer hardware engineering. A master's degree is also recommended if you want to advance to management positions in the field. During the course of these studies, you can learn to work on systems like broadcasting, navigation and communication, as working within these industries also typically requires an advanced degree. Getting a doctorate is also an option. While master's degrees and doctorates usually both come with pay increases, a doctorate allows you to teach at the university level.

What kind of education do you need to be a computer hardware engineer?

To apply for computer hardware engineering jobs, you typically need a bachelor's degree in computer science. Many companies also hire hardware engineers if they have an electronics engineering degree. If you already have a degree, consider adding a few relevant hardware engineering courses to your resume. This can help you stand out from other applicants.

When hiring for senior positions, many employers prefer candidates with a master's degree in computer engineering. If you have years of work experience but not a master's degree, you may still be eligible to apply for senior positions.

Additional requirements to become a computer hardware engineer

Apart from educational qualifications, the following skill set can increase your likelihood of getting a hardware engineering job:

  • CompTIA A+ or CompTIA Network+ certification

  • practical and theoretical knowledge of design software such as Allegro, AutoCAD and Altium

  • thorough understanding of embedded protocols such as SPI, I2C and USB DDR

  • foundational knowledge of radio frequencies

  • experience dealing with varying power supply types such as regulators and LDOs

  • cloud management expertise to work across online systems

  • desktop management interface

  • basic knowledge of PHP, CSS, JavaScript, Microsoft Office and Linux

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How many years does it take to become a hardware engineer?

After clearing your Class 10th examination, it can take up to six years to become a hardware engineer. This includes two years for your 10+2 and another four years for completing your engineering course in computers or electronics. After that, it can take you anywhere between two and six months to find a job as a computer hardware engineer. Though most colleges offer in-house placements, you can look for jobs by yourself too.

What skills do you need to become a computer hardware engineer?

Computer hardware engineers use a diverse range of skills to perform their day-to-day duties. This includes identifying inconsistencies in hardware setups, diagnosing issues in electric circuits, implementing new hardware technologies and recreating or updating existing systems. Here are a few important skills required to become a hardware engineer:

Analytical skills

Computer hardware engineers often use their analytical skills to analyse different solutions to a problem. A thorough comparison and analysis of various available solutions help them determine the best one for their situation. To improve your analytical skills, you can ask more questions, conduct research and examine situations from different perspectives.

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Evaluation skills

Computer hardware engineers often use their evaluation skills to identify complex hardware problems. They create key identifiers that indicate how a system performs. Based on what these indicators showcase, they apply corrective steps to meet the system's demands. Each of these sub-tasks requires a solid foundational knowledge of evaluation and troubleshooting mediums in the field of hardware.

Operations monitoring

Computer hardware engineers determine how dials, gauges and several electrical components in a computer are functioning. They also create a reference sheet on how the system may react to specific conditions. These conditions can relate to heavy or mild operations and alternative electrical devices.

Reading comprehension

As a computer hardware engineer, you may do a lot of reading. You can practice reading difficult texts. Try reading for longer periods without taking breaks and quizzing yourself on what you just read. Nonfiction books are a great place to start, or you can find white papers on computer hardware engineering.

Creativity

A good computer hardware engineer finds creative solutions to difficult problems. Employers may want to see that you have some creativity in your work. Find some hobbies that allow you to think creatively. You also can design computer hardware on your own time, coming up with creative final products you can use in a portfolio.

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Microprocessor specifics

Most computer hardware engineers are well-acquainted with microprocessor architectures. They are expected to create foolproof microprocessors that function in sync with the technical capabilities of the existing hardware. The complexity of these tiny instruments makes them susceptible to security breaches. Blending relevant security features into their design helps tackle this potential risk.

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Is computer hardware engineering a good career?

Computer hardware engineering is undoubtedly a brilliant career choice. With the rise of artificial intelligence systems, cellular devices and high-tech computers, tablets and laptops, the demand for these professionals is going to multiply over time. Computer hardware engineers create computer systems and their components, including processors, hard drives, networks and circuit boards. They work on every aspect of hardware creation, including research, design, development, testing and production.

Hardware engineers often spend their days creating blueprints, testing prototypes, updating and improving old equipment and overseeing the creation of their designs. They typically work within an office setting and often as part of a team. In many cases, computer hardware engineers work closely with software engineers to ensure their equipment works with the latest software updates.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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