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If you’re currently contemplating your future career options and are good with computers, your future looks pretty bright. Computer engineers earn pretty well – but while the job can be demanding, the benefits are well worth the overtime. Workers generally specialize in hardware or software. Hardware refers to computer systems and their components, like circuit boards, memory devices, and so on. Meanwhile, the term software includes various applications that enable users to make the most of their devices. So what is the average computer engineering salary in the US?

Hardware engineers make about $72.094 per year on average, while software engineers earn a little more – about $77.982 annually. Generally speaking, wages range between $40.901 and $112.657 for computer hardware engineers. Software engineers, on the other hand, earn between $53.816 and $112.657.

The average computer engineering salary depends on skill and experience, regardless of specialization. It can also fluctuate based on the city workers operate and, of course, the employer. Read on to find more about the profession and cash compensation/bonuses.

computer engineering salary hardware engineer at work

Average Computer Engineering Salary and Benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer hardware engineers earned an average of $114,600 per year in 2018. Computer software engineers or software developers earn a median pay of $105,590 per year according to the same stats. The website PayScale, however, depicts lower averages. According to them, engineers specialized in hardware take home $81,057 on average and software developers $83,681 per year.

Besides your average computer engineering salary, the job also comes with perks, which usually involve yearly bonuses and profit shares up to $20k. Additionally, both careers benefit from medical, dental and, in some instances, even vision insurances.

Computer Engineering Job Description

Engineers dealing in hardware are employed by companies which are specialized in research, design, development or testing computers and components. They also may be hired by companies which deal with computer-related equipment for commercial, industrial, military, as well as for scientific use. The job description includes the supervision and installment of computer or computer-related equipment and components.

On the other hand, software developers deal with researching, designing, developing and testing operating systems-level software and compilers. They also handle network distribution software for a series of different fields. They include medical, industrial, military, communications, aerospace, business, scientific, and general computing applications. To earn their computer engineering salary, workers are required to apply principles and techniques of computer science, engineering and mathematical analysis during a regular workday.

What Tasks Does a Computer Engineer Perform?

Below we will list the tasks computer engineers in each field.

Workers specialized in hardware do the following:

  • Research, design, develop and test computer or computer-related equipment.
  • Provide technical support to team members.
  • Define and coordinate corrective action changes.
  • Write documentation and test specifications.

Tasks for workers specialized in software:

  • Write, modify and debug software.
  • Design and develop application components.
  • Test and document software.
  • Analyze requirements and transform them into technical designs.

Computer Engineering Job Requirements

Computer Engineering Training, Education & Certification

Both fields of work require a Bachelor’s Degree and some companies might require potential employees to have a Master’s Degree. The BA must be obtained in areas such as engineering, computer science, or related fields. Certificates for various skills, such as Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), will not only increase an applicant’s chances to obtain the post, but might also help secure a better paycheck – mainly higher than the average computer engineering salary.

General Skills Engineers Specialized in Software Have in Their CV

  • Programming Skills.
  • Active Learning Skills.
  • Critical Thinking Skills.
  • Complex Problem Solving.
  • Troubleshooting Skills.
  • Judgment and Decision Making Skills.
  • Quality Control Analysis Skills.
  • Time Management Skills.
  • System Analysis Skills.
  • Systems Evaluation Skills.
  • Equipment Selection Skills.
  • Mathematics Skills.
  • Technology Design Skills.
  • Reading Comprehension Skills.

General Skills Engineers Specialized in Hardware Have in Their CV

  • Critical Thinking Skills.
  • Speaking Skills.
  • Active Listening and Learning Skills.
  • Complex Problem Solving Skills.
  • Judgement and Decision Making Skills.
  • Science Skills.
  • Systems Analysis Skills.
  • Operations Skills.
  • Systems Evaluation Skills.
  • Monitoring Skills.
  • Coordinating Skills.
  • Management of Personnel Resources Skills.
  • Quality Control Analysis Skills.
  • Mathematics Skills.

Software Computer Engineer Skills Influencing Pay Check

  • Knowledge of C, C++, Python, UNIX, Linux programming skills.
  • Knowledge of database languages: SQL – Structured Query Language.

Hardware Computer Engineer Skills Influencing Pay Check

  • Knowledge of C, C++, Verilog, programming skills.
  • Knowledge of Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) programming skills and Engineering Design.

Computer Engineer Work Hours

The vast majority of software developers work full time. Long hours are very common. In 2012 alone more than a quarter of all software computer engineers worked more than 40 hours per week. The same applies to hardware computer engineers. They perform tasks indoors in an office or laboratory and work full-time, at least 40 hours per week. Both professions however are very demanding, prolonged working hours being a common trait.

Computer Engineer (Software) Salary by Industry

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a computer software engineer’s paycheck differs depending on the industry in which he or she activates. Some of the highest paying industries for this profession are offices of real estate agents and brokers, computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, rail transportation, manufacturing and reproducing magnetic and optical media, and support activities for mining.

IndustryEmploymentHourly Pay RateAnnual Average Computer Software Engineering Salary
Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing23,040$53.85$112,020
Other Information Services5,080$53.07$110,380
Machinery, Equipment, and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers1,000$52.06$108,290
Manufacturing and Reproducing Magnetic and Optical Media280$51.37$106,860
Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing5,690$51.22$106,540

Computer Engineer (Hardware) Salary by Industry

The top-paying industries for this occupation according to BLS are electrical equipment and component manufacturing, software publishers, financial investment activities, communications equipment manufacturing.

IndustryEmploymentPercent of industry employmentHourly  Pay RateAnnual Average Computer Hardware Engineering Salary
Other Information Services1,0000.48$70.08$145,760
Other Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing800.06$62.06$129,080
Software Publishers1,2400.41$61.18$127,260
Other Financial Investment Activities1300.03$58.16$120,970
Communications Equipment Manufacturing1,0501.13$57.92$120,460

Computer Engineer (Software) Salary by State

StateEmploymentHourly Pay RateAnnual Average Computer Software Engineer SalaryEmployment per thousand workers
California69,200$52.52$109,2404.762
Virginia28,830$51.49$107,1008.032
New Hampshire2,420$48.95$101,8203.915
Massachusetts27,150$48.88$101,6708.566
New Jersey13,180$48.15$100,1503.423

Computer Engineer (Hardware) Salary by State

StateEmploymentEmployment per thousand jobsLocation quotientHourly Pay RateAnnual Average Computer Hardware Engineer Salary
California26,0301.723.05$59.26$123,270
Maryland4,3901.723.04$56.60$117,730
Virginia1,2100.330.59$55.89$116,240
Massachusetts3,6001.081.92$55.59$115,620
District of Columbia1,1001.632.88$54.78$113,940

Job Prospects – Computer Engineer Jobs 

Software engineering employment numbers are seen to be on the rise in the next decade. In 2012, the number of employees active in this field was 1,018,000 million; and it is projected to rise to 1,240,600 in 2022. This results in a 22% increase in the next decade. In 2019, the BLS updated the numbers and projects a 24% growth for the next ten years. As a result, the demand is high and grows much faster than the average. Also, that might mean that the average computer engineering salary might grow as well.

Prospects for computer engineers dealing in hardware do not look bad either. According to the same source, in 2012 there were 83.300 jobs in this field of work. Until 2022 there will be a projected rise of 7%, resulting in 6.200 more jobs. Although the rise is slower than the average, it does offer better job prospects than other occupational fields. According to updated numbers in 2019, the rise dropped to 5% until 2026, so it’s expected to be steady.

Quick Computer Engineer (Software) Job Facts

Annual Average Computer Software Engineer Salary$103K 
Entry-level Salary$61K 
Mid-level Career Salary$71K 
Experienced Salary$90K 
Late-career Salary$166K 
Education RequirementsBachelor’s Degree (minimum)Master’s Degree (optional) 
Computer Software Engineer Training & CertificationCertifications provided by software firms such as Microsoft 
Work Experience RequiredMost applicants underwent internships 
Work Environment Computer systems design and related firms Software Publishers 
Best Paying Employer Google Inc.($104-147K) 
Best Paying Metropolitan AreaMountain View, CA ($106k) 
Lowest Paying MarketMinneapolis, MN ($73K) 
Job Prospects 2016 – 2026 24% employment growth (+ 222.600 Software engineer jobs) 
Work Schedule40 hrs/ week and over

Quick Computer Engineer (Hardware) Job Facts

Annual Average Computer Hardware Engineer Salary$114K 
Entry-level Salary$66K 
Mid-level Salary$82K 
Experienced Salary$100K 
Late-career Salary$172K 
Education RequirementsBachelor’s Degree (minimum)Master’s Degree (optional) 
Database Administrator Training & CertificationCertifications provided by software firms such as Microsoft 
Work Experience RequiredLess than 5 years in a related field 
Work Environment Computer system design and related services finance; Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing; Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing; Research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences 
Best Paying Employer Apple Computer Inc($102-135K) 
Best Paying Metropolitan AreaSanta Clara, CA ($105k) 
Lowest Paying MarketAustin, TX ($80K) 
Job Prospects 2016 – 2026 5% employment growth (+ 6.000 Hardware engineer jobs) 
Work Schedule40 hrs/ week and over

Would I Make a Good Computer Engineer?

While the median computer engineering salary may change in the years to come, the skills needed to make it in the industry will likey stay the same. If you love dealing with computers, that’s a good sign. But passion isn’t enough to build a successful career in the field. You also need dedication and desire to improve your skills constantly. This is an industry that’s evolving every day, so you need to be ready to keep up. Your education won’t end once you graduate. Quite the opposite – it will be a life-long process. If that makes you excited instead of panicked, you’re on the right track to climbing the computer engineering ladder.

People who work in the field generally have great analytical skills, since they are required to figure out what users need and then design software or hardware that fix certain problems. Moreover, they need great communication skills, since they don’t only have to work as part of a team, but will likely be required to interact with customers, possibly to explain how a piece of hardware or software works. Next, those who want to excel in the industry should also be detail-oriented and have a knack for solving problems.

Besides formal education, you may also want to take advantage of online courses to advance your skills. Not only will you be able to stand out from the crowd, but your resume will have a better shot at impressive potential employers. Our advice is to work on hard skills – mathematics, programming – but also on soft skills like communication, public speaking, and time management. They will become invaluable once you enter the industry. 

We hope our information on the average computer engineering salary in the U.S. will prove useful to job seekers in this field. For more articles on average salaries and educational requirements for diverse professions, please check our Education Section. Good luck!

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