Working as a computer engineer is a multi-faceted role that requires a keen understanding of how computers work and operate in response to complex databases, wired or wireless systems, and other complex areas that are taking over our everyday lives and helping solve the world's biggest challenges. From healthcare to Hollywood, computer engineers are making a real impact in our world in every industry. If you are passionate about working with computers, the biggest question you will face is what area of computing do you want to work in? Do you want to design video games, work in healthcare, education, work for public or private institutions, manage projects, teach and inspire students- the opportunities are wide in scope. But the first thing you need to do is choose the right computer engineering degree program.
Computers are almost everywhere in our lives. We can barely turn around without seeing a computer somewhere whether it’s a desktop PC, laptop, tablet or some other type of computer technology. Almost the same can be said for electronics. With that being said, it’s easy to understand why computer electronics is such a growing and popular field today. Learn about the various degree options and what type of a career you can expect in computer electronics.
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
It is no secret that every school is tapping the convenience and effectiveness of online learning for their students. Whether partial or 100% online, students have more options than ever before about where they learn and how they design their degree.
For an online bachelor's in computer engineering, consider the following. Preparatory classes typically include problem solving concepts, trigonometry, and calculus. Then you will usually move into even more complex topics, such as data structures, circuit analysis, digital design, embedded microcontrollers, and differential equations. But your learning won't be all nuts and bolts of engineering. In most online computer engineering programs, students will learn how to develop communication skills and a global mindset that is required to work in organizations that have a wide-reaching impact on the world. It's not enough to be a good engineer, you have to learn how to work within the broader environment of your company. Courses such as global issues on design will help you learn how your work has an impact outside on society's across the world.
Typical roles students look to fill after graduating with an online computer engineering degree:
- Engineering Manager
- Systems Engineer
- Software Developer
- Test Engineer
- Applications Developer
Masters in Computer Engineering Programs
Just as there are bachelors programs that you can take on campus, online or a mix of the two, Masters programs can offer students the same flexibility. New York University offers an online master's degree in computer engineering that can help students become confident professionals with the skills to pursue a variety of career paths related to this area of engineering. As with other schools, the required curriculum is the same that they offer in the campus experience. This program also offers a 'thesis option' that can replace your advanced project plus one of your courses.
The University of Illinois offers masters degree includes a computer science program that can be a great choice for those who want to pursue carees in this area. This is also a good program for students who want a non-thesis option. Even though you will be learning from a distance, the interactive curriculum will offer you the opportunity to help solve the world's biggest challenges. These include important research projects that help further the field of healthcare, improve our environmental conditions, and help protect us from natural disasters.
Associate's Degree in Computer Electronics
One program aimed at individuals interested in working with computers and electronics is an associate degree in computer support specialist. This two-year program includes courses like networking, quantitative thought, PC hardware and software, Internet and information security, help desk techniques and application concepts. Another popular option is an associate degree in electronics and computer technology. This program consists of thirty percent general education courses and seventy percent technical courses.
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Electronics
Graduates are prepared to take several industry certifications, which can help when seeking employment. Associate degrees not only prepare students for entry-level positions in a variety of careers but also prepare them for transfer to a bachelor degree program. There are many schools that offer computer electronics associate degree programs.
Students interested in careers in engineering that include computer work often choose an electronics and computer engineering technology program such as the bachelor’s degree offered at Pennsylvania College of Technology. This four-year program includes courses in digital circuits application, electronic circuits and devices, microprocessor applications, network installation and maintenance, electronic prototyping and design, engineering ethics and digital signal processing.
Internships, Co-ops, and Studying Abroad with Computer Electronics
Students also complete lab studies and participate in internships or study-abroad opportunities. The electronics and computer engineering technology program at ITT Technical Institute also combines theory with practical experience in the student laboratory. Both of these programs prepare students for careers as electronics technicians, computer technicians or field service representatives.
Computer Electronics as a Concentration
Computer electronics is often offered as a concentration in other major programs. San Jose State University has a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in computer electronics and network technology. This program includes courses in programming concepts and methodology, analog and digital circuits, networking theory and application, control systems and basic electronics.
A Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and Electronics Engineering is another option for students who want computer and electronics-based training. As a final requirement for graduation, bachelor degree programs generally require the student to participate in seminars and internships as well as practical experience in the field. Completion of a senior design project is also a big part of the final in both bachelor and master degree programs.
Graduate Computer Electronics Degrees
Although computer electronics degrees are most often found at the associate and bachelor degree levels, these fields are also offered in graduate programs. Candidates interested in leadership positions, academia or careers in research and develop tend to be the ones that pursue graduate programs. One common path is a master degree in electrical and computer engineering.
Seniors usually have a choice of completing a research-based independent project or completing a thesis. In fact, many graduate programs require completion of 30 credits of graduate courses and a six-credit research based-thesis. Although several schools offer PhD programs in computer science and electrical engineering, they seldom combine computer and electronics together. These two are more commonly found in associate and bachelor degree programs.
Online Computer Electronics Degrees
Online computer electronics degrees are available to many students who cannot attend college on campus but wish to earn degrees in computer and electronics. One example is Grantham University, which offers an online associate degree in electronics and computer engineering technology. Students who complete this program have completed the first two years of a bachelor’s degree in this field. Engineering technology programs, which are commonly found online, also focus on electronics and computers.
Computer Engineering Careers
Your career outcome is the most important aspect of your educational journey. Before you begin a program, you should have ideas for where you want it to lead. Below we break down some of the top career choices for those who earn their degree in computer engineering. Some of these can be obtained with a bachelor's degree at the entry-level. However, if you want to move up the ranks into senior and upper management positions, you should start comparing graduate level degree programs offered online - especially if you are already a busy professional
Engineering Managers earn a median salary of $130,620 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In this role you will primarily work in an office with opportunities to visit sites where your work comes alive. If you like working face-to-face with others and being a strong voice in your organization who can motivate people, this could be a good path for you (source).
Software Developers can earn a median wage of $97,990 per year, with a whopping 17% anticipated growth year-over-year, which is much faster than the national average. In this role you will focus on computer system design or performing software services for businesses of all kinds. This is a role that can truly reach into almost every type of business. No matter what industry you want to work in, public or private, there are many career paths you can aim towards (source).
Network and Computer Systems Administrators can earn a wage in the area of $75,790 per year, with anticipated growth of 8% between 2014-24, which is in line with the national average. In this role you will work with the physical elements of computers and hardware. You can help design and develop the networking infrastructure your company needs to run smoothly and stay protected from vulnerabilities and loss of critical information (source).
Many computer-minded individuals can get their focus too narrowed into the world of software and hardware that they forget to network with peers and professionals who can help them reach new levels in their profession. The Association of Information Technology Professionals (source) is a place where you can find out the latest happenings and opportunities in the field. They have resources for students and professionals, along with career listings and networking opportunities year round.
Career Info for Computer Electronics Degree Holders
Because computers and electronics play such an important role in our daily lives, students who earn computer electronics degrees tend to have many employment opportunities and career options. In addition, most of these careers have excellent growth and offer good wages. Computer support specialists (BLS), a profession that can be obtained by completing an associate degree program, earned an average yearly wage of over $40,000, according to a July 2015 report by Payscale.com. Computer hardware engineers earned more than $72,000 during that same period (source).
As a computer support specialist, you could test and assess computers and network systems, troubleshoot computers and computer-based electronics and perform regular maintenance and upgrades on computers and computer hardware. If you work as a computer hardware engineer, you could design, develop, install and troubleshoot computer hardware and other computer-based equipment. Electronics technicians troubleshoot and maintain electronics and electronic-based equipment. As you can see, computer electronics degree graduates have many options available to them.
If you think you have to put your current professional path on hold just to start a career in computer engineering, or to reach the next level, you are probably mistaken. To find out, learn more about online programs that can give you the same quality of education that a campus experience can provide.