Computer engineering is an evolving field of engineering. The field really began with the emergence of the computer in the 1980’s, with many hobbyists building their own hardware and developing their own software.
In the past, computer engineering was split into two sub-categories: Computer Hardware Engineering and Computer Software Engineering. With new technology comes the need for new areas of expertise, and now the field consists of specialties that really deserve their own category. Networking, infrastructure, architecture, as well as application and web development all play their part in computer engineering, and those programs are widely available in the US.
Why Computer Engineering?
Today, computer engineers are very highly sought after. Computer engineers are now developing the most complex and innovative forms of technology that we all use today. The founders of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, several of the largest, most respectable companies in the United States, came about because of their technology developed by computer engineers.
Computer engineers are and will continue to be in high demand. To skip the overview of computer engineering and get moving to learn more, feel free to reach out to the computer engineering departments listed below, which are some of our most requested programs.
We compared the top computer engineering degrees, and gave highlights of each below. You can see sample courses, median salaries*, and view featured schools directly from the below comparison sheet.
Types of Computer Engineering Degrees
Below are some of the most popular computer engineering degree specialties, and a summary about each.
You can also use the quick navigation in our comparison above to see more detail on the most popular computer engineering degrees, including online computer engineering, software engineering, and hardware engineering.
Computer Hardware Engineering
Computer hardware engineering was one of the first, and many hobbyists that did not even know they were computer engineers at the time built their own computers from scratch. Initially, the computers they built ran simple tasks, such as solving basic math. Now, computer hardware engineers develop complex microprocessors and circuit boards for advanced groups, including the federal government and some of the largest Fortune 500 technology companies. The need to be bigger (or smaller) and faster will always be there, as consumers expect this area to continue to advance as it has in the past.
Computer Software Engineering
Software engineers write, design, develop, and test software applications for different businesses. Some work on proprietary software that companies have to solve enterprise-level solutions within the business. Others develop applications for larger companies, or as freelancers. Computer software engineering is quickly becoming one of the most important fields in today’s world. Many software engineers are even becoming CEO’s and other C-level executives. Software engineers that have real-world coding experience, a vision, and the ability to understand business needs will absolutely thrive in today’s environment either with a large company or with their own startup company. View more detail on software engineering degrees.
Computer Networking (Cable and Wireless)
The need for data to move faster and faster, without interference is becoming increasingly important. With cities such as San Diego and Kansas City emerging as “Smart Cities” that are connected to the internet, the need for computer network engineers is going to be great. A world with “The Internet of Everything” is very likely to exist, with everyday objects like street lights and city buses as well as wearables for fitness and health will provide many opportunities for computer engineers, as all of these items need to somehow be connected to a central infrasctructure. Computer engineers typically choose either the wireless RF discipline, or traditional cable and fiberoptics (Google Fiber is leading the charge here), but many computer network engineers also work with both.
Computer Architecture, Processing, and Robotics
Many in this field determine what an overall project’s architecture is, setting the foundation for complex problem solving later on down the line. Theory and research based on data used to build algorithms are the most common areas within the architecture and processing field. Robotics uses similar planning and research to build robotic technology that can make our lives easier. Think about the tools doctors now use to operate, or cameras plumbers use to determine sewage blockages and other issues.
Computer Security, Cybersecurity, and Cryptography
With increased connectivity comes the need for improved security. Considering some of the largest, most major stores such as Target and Home Depot have had security vulnerabilities in the past year, there is a major need for security and more specifically, cybersecurity specialists. With both instances, it seems that an increased education and more knowledge in cybersecurity could have prevented the attacks. Visit our sister site at CyberSecurityDegrees.org for more detailed information on cyber security degrees and schools.
With the emergence of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, there are also more opportunities for engineers to get into the cryptography field. Some engineers combine their software applications studies with their passion for cryptography, and even create brand new forms of cryptocurrency. This area of computer engineering is still very new, but expect it to grow as technology advances.
Computer Engineering Occupations Data Tool
Before deciding on a specific type of computer engineering degree, it's good to have an understanding of what you could make and what the outlook is for the career you are looking at. Below is a table of wage and salary data, plus employment growth projections from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all occupations related to computer engineering and computer science.
Computer Engineering Occupation
|AVG Annual |
|% Job Growth
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||330,360||$136,280||15.3%|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||24,210||$113,190||15.3%|
|Computer Hardware Engineers||76,360||$110,650||7.4%|
|Software Systems Developers||382,400||$106,050||20.4%|
|Computer Network Architects||140,080||$100,710||14.6%|
|Software Applications Developers||686,470||$99,530||22.8%|
|Information Security Analysts||80,180||$91,600||36.5%|
|Computer Systems Analysts||528,320||$87,320||24.5%|
|Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary||35,410||$80,730||12.7%|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||365,430||$79,770||11.7%|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||174,490||$66,140||6.9%|
|Computer User Support Specialists||563,540||$51,500||20.2%|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers||24,960||$50,200||27.6%|
|Computer, and Office Machine Repairers||110,940||$38,450||3.8%|
|Office Machine Operators||66,530||$30,200||-10.2%|