Professions related to computers and engineering are expected to account for 82.7 percent of total growth in science and engineering occupations through 2022, according to a 2014 report on the science and engineering workforce in the United States by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) . Computer hardware engineering jobs, the BLS predicts, will experience only 3 percent growth through 2024, which is slower than average for all industries. The reason for the slower growth is because more innovation is happening in software than in hardware.
Computer software engineers — sometimes called computer software developers, computer architects and communication systems engineer — can work in a variety of industries, including high tech, medical and government.
Computer hardware engineers work with computer hardware components such as motherboards, processors, routers and networks. They create new products and improve upon existing ones through design and testing. The BLS reports the 2016 median computer hardware engineer salary was $115,080 a year. The salary estimate is for all computer engineer positions across all industries, and therefore includes a mix of non-degree, bachelor degree, and advanced degree computer engineers.
Computer engineers may work with a variety of stakeholders within a company, from CEOs and research scientists to sales and marketing departments. Master’s degrees in computer engineering tend to prepare these professionals for leadership positions because they include the study of advanced topics, analytics and strategies.
The BLS lists the top five industries where computer hardware engineers work:
- Computer systems design and related services
- Computer peripheral equipment manufacturing
- Semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing
- Scientific research and development
- Federal executive branch, which includes governmental agencies and military, but not the US Postal Service
Geographically speaking, it’s no surprise that most employers for computer engineers are in California. Of the top states for computer engineering jobs, California far outnumbers the next next four states combined, according to the BLS.
- California: 2,570
- Colorado: 3,700
- Maryland: 3,690
- Texas: 3,590
- Massachusetts: 2,960
The virtual reality business is expected to grow 15-fold by the year 2020, says data market intelligence firm SuperData. Not only will computer engineers work on the software that powers the immersive experiences, but they’ll also research, design and develop the hardware to support it. SuperData predicts the VR market to be worth $28.3 billion by 2020.
3D printing could be the next big thing in manufacturing and technology. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, 10 percent of industrial operations will use some form of 3D printing. As CAD files are transferred from desktops to printers and objects are brought to life through additive manufacturing, the computer engineering makes it possible.
An article on the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2020, the Internet of Things will see a global revenue of $9.5 billion. Computer engineers are part of this technological evolution that connects our homes, medical devices and workplaces to our mobile devices.
Other fields of emerging technology include nano computing and robotics. Nano computing uses very small technologies, which are used within larger computer devices and systems, but emerging technologies will see nano computers running software on their own.
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