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Computer Engineering Degree Programs

Computer engineers design the hardware and software systems that make personal computers, smartphones, industrial robotics, portable electronics, aircraft instrumentation, and many other devices and systems run. Computer engineers generally split into two top-level specializations: hardware engineers and software engineers, although most computer engineers possess a substantial amount of knowledge from both disciplines.

There are several sub-categories found within software and hardware engineering. Some of these specializations include:

  • Networking and telecommunications
  • Information system security
  • Robotics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Microprocessor design and development
  • Mobile app development
  • Computer forensics (law enforcement)
  • Data scientists

The above list is a very small sample of sub-categories, as computer engineering has expanded into every industry that leverages computing technology, which is nearly every identifiable industry that exists in the 21st century.

Computer Engineering Specialties:

  1. Computer Hardware Engineer
  2. Computer Software Engineer
  3. Computer Systems Software Engineer
  4. Computer Applications Software Engineer
  5. Cloud Engineer
  6. Big Data Engineer
  7. Computer Engineering Degrees
  8. Computer Engineering Salary
  9. Computer Engineering Certifications

Computer Engineering Specialties

What does a computer hardware engineer do?

Computer hardware engineers are responsible for the design, development, and testing of electronic hardware as it relates to computer systems.

The information networks of the world rely on a vast array of different hardware products. Computer hardware engineers may develop devices at any link in the chain, from servers, processors, and network switches, to video hardware and touch-screen interface devices. Even the monitor, keyboard, and mouse found on nearly every desktop in the world were once just ideas in the mind of a computer hardware engineer.

Computer hardware engineers may work on microstructures such as circuits or microprocessors, or may use these primary components to design and build larger devices. Basically, the work of computer hardware engineers can be found in the smallest components or in the largest integrated systems.

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What does a computer software engineer do?

Computer software engineers create the applications and operating engines that drive human interaction with the world of data. There are two primary types of computer software engineer: applications software engineers, and systems software engineers.

  • Applications engineers design, build and deploy general applications software and specialized utility programs. Several programming languages are used to construct these applications, and these languages are updated and replaced on an ongoing basis. The legwork of coding is usually the job of computer programmers working under the software engineer. Most applications engineers in the applications field develop or adapt custom software for businesses and other institutions, while others work on games, creative media suites, and other packaged commercial applications.
  • Systems engineers focus on the construction and expansion of entire computer systems. These engineers assess the departmental needs of an organization, and design and implement the software that will integrate those needs into a complete system. Data assurance and security are typical concerns of this position. Systems engineers may work solely on desktop computer or mobile device operating systems, products like Microsoft Windows or Apple iOS. Systems engineers usually shepherd a software product throughout its development cycle, overseeing the testing and evaluation of the product at every stage.

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What does a computer systems software engineer do?

Computer systems software engineers design and build computer networks tailored to organizations' specific requirements. These software specialists take a big-picture view of an enterprise's IT infrastructure and develop the software that knits the computer hardware into an integrated network. They work on all aspects of the project, including operating systems-level software, compilers and network distribution software, and they participate in all phases, from research and design to development and testing.

Computer systems software engineers assess the needs of an organization, make decisions about technical purchases, and write code at the operating-system level that integrates the technology and customizes specifications to user needs. Systems software engineers may also implement security features to protect a system from intrusion and data loss.

Computer systems software developers may specialize in a particular type of organization, industry or technology. Examples of industry specializations include health care, manufacturing, military, telecommunications, aerospace, scientific R&D and financial services. Technical specializations span operating systems, system security, networking and routing, storage systems, and more.

O*NET OnLine details the broad expertise required for computer systems software engineers. These software specialists must be familiar with various types of tools and hardware, for example:

  • Processors -- central processing units or CPUs and graphics processing units or GPUs
  • Computer servers such as application servers
  • High-end computer servers like directory servers
  • Integrated circuit testers and logic analyzers
  • Mainframe computers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) makes a distinction between a computer systems software developer and a closely related occupation, the computer systems engineer. Also known as systems architects, systems engineers work with systems integration and problem-solving for a wide range of issues involving system and network administration. Systems engineers may configure, implement or install computer systems for their own employers or for other organizations.

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What do computer applications software engineers do?

From imagination to creation to upkeep, computer software applications engineers take business applications, games, mobile apps and more from the drawing board to customers' hands. Working with programming languages like C, C++, Java and Python, these specialized engineers can be found anywhere from the whiteboard in the design room to the maintenance lab. Software applications engineers are valued for their high-level programming knowledge and application of current technology.

The term "software applications engineer" is a broad category that spans careers such as application integration engineer, software development engineer, software architect and computer consultant. It's also important to note some distinctions: Those with software applications engineer training can call themselves applications developers, however, not every applications developer can be called a software applications engineer.

This occupation uses a wide variety of tools and software programs, according to the Department of Labor's O*NET website. These pros work with software applications such as the following:

  • Database management system
  • Development environment
  • Object or component oriented development
  • Program testing, source code editing and usability testing
  • Web platform development

These engineers are also familiar with application servers, integrated circuit testers, logic analyzers and mainframe computers.

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What do cloud engineers do?

Cloud engineers, a subset of the larger category of computer network engineers, are technology experts specialized in cloud computing and all of its related components. While network engineers and cloud engineers have more in common than not, there are some aspects of cloud networking that require additional specialized knowledge and skills, particularly around the following areas of expertise:

  • Cloud architectures, including public vs private clouds.
  • Cloud service models, such as Software as a Service (SaaS).
  • Cloud client compatibility across numerous types of devices.
  • Cloud security issues, which can be more difficult to manage than with traditional private networks.

Cloud-based services have grown in features, complexity, and popularity in recent years. Early cloud-based service offerings were mostly based around communication, such as web-based email and online chat clients. These early cloud-based services were designed for the desktop computing paradigm which dominated the first half of the Internet's history. There are still plenty of web-based email services available today, but they are just one small piece of much larger cloud service offerings.

Cloud engineers are responsible for designing, deploying and maintaining cloud networks and their related services. Sometimes, as is the case with the Internet giant Google, cloud networks are being accessed by millions of users around the world. However, today's organizations are also deploying "private clouds" to provide services to their own employees, which help to enable today's more mobile workforce.

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What do big data engineers do?

"Big data" is the industry term used to refer to data sets which are so large and complex they cannot be managed through traditional relational database software tools. As the total amount of information on any given subject continues to grow, new technologies are required to not only store and maintain data, but make it usable in a relevant and efficient manner.

It also refers to the solutions being created for managing massive amounts of information. In the past, big data almost exclusively referred to supercomputing, an expensive niche dominated by a few technology providers like IBM and Cray. Today, new solutions like the Hadoop software platform by the Apache Software Foundation use clusters of standard, so-called "commodity hardware" servers to manage massive data sets.

For example, Facebook currently has information storage and retrieval requirements for over 300 petabytes of data. In a post on its engineering blog, the company revealed that it has an incoming data rate of 600 terabytes per day.

Big data engineers are responsible for developing, creating, implementing and maintaining data solutions for companies and government branches. This role comes with a challenging set of requirements. Big data engineers are experts in data warehouses, including all aspects of scalability, fault tolerance and disaster recovery. They are usually prolific in several programming and scripting languages, including Java, C++ and Python. Big data engineers are able to take a set of high-level requirements and specifications, and deploy them as a working solution.

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Computer Engineering Degrees and Education

Degree levels and formats

  • Specialized training

i. Python
ii. ColdFusion
iii. Agile
iv. Perl
v. AJAX
vi. Software development

      1. Computer Hardware Engineer Degree
      2. Computer Software Engineer Degree
      3. Computer Systems Software Engineering Degree
      4. Computer Applications Software Engineer Degree
      5. Cloud Engineer Degree
      6. Big Data Engineer Degree

Computer engineering programs in depth

The primary education component for a computer engineer is a Bachelor's degree in computer engineering. Some employers will also accept a Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering (for computer hardware engineers), as there is a lot of commonality between the two disciplines.

There are several degree programs for both hardware and software computer engineers. Some of these programs try to offer a full mix of the two disciplines, but the majority of schools have separate dedicated Bachelor's degree programs for each specialization.

Some examples of computer engineering courses are:

  • Microprocessors and microcomputers
  • Programming for embedded systems
  • Operating systems and systems deployment
  • Wireless networking
  • Information system security
  • Computer architecture
  • Digital signal processing
  • Semiconductors
  • Agile software development processes
  • Software testing and quality assurance

Some schools offer associate's degrees in computer engineering, which may provide access to some entry-level computer engineering jobs. An associate degree can usually be earned in 2-3 years (as opposed to four years for a Bachelor's degree) and may have somewhat less strenuous requirements than a traditional Bachelor's of computer engineering program.

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Specialized training

Python training

Python is an object-oriented programming language known for its elegant, easy-to-read syntax and extensibility to other programming languages like C or C++. It comes with a large library of standard modules and can be used to develop for the Web, GUI and various realms including science, education, and games or 3D graphics. Python is typically used for lighter applications and scripting and for cases when a quick turnaround is necessary.

Python is free and easy to learn, so for individuals new to programming it can be a good place to start. The official Python website offers step-by-step instructions for getting started, assuming you already know how to run a program on your computer. The developer community offers a wiki, conferences and other types of support.

Python training spans a range of topics, including these:

  • Python string operations
  • Lists and dictionaries
  • Branching and scripting
  • Input/output and modules
  • Python objects

An introductory Python class covers the characteristics of the programming language and why it is chosen for certain applications and projects over other languages.

Types of Python training

The Python website itself offers numerous resources for learning the programming language, in a variety of formats. From the Beginner's Guide to Python page, an individual can link to these and other options:

  • Beginner's Guide/Overview
  • Guide for choosing which version of Python to use
  • Tutorial options that include beginner's guides for both programmers and non-programmers
  • Online Python documentation
  • Library, language, module and application reference pages

Once an individual has gone through the basic documentation and reference guides on the Python website, it is a good idea to practice the principles of Python programming. From the website, programmers can link to different sites that offer Python exercises and skill-testing.

Depending on learning style, students can choose between online documentation and tutorials or live, instructor-led classroom training. An individual wanting to master this language under the guidance of an instructor should consider Python courses. A number of third-party options are available and cover similar topics as listed above. Whether one pursues formal or informal courses, a key element of Python training lies in programming practice.

Once a student is comfortable with the basics, it may be time to consider an advanced course. Here, Python programming skills are taken to the next level and students may explore:

  • Thread programming
  • Message passing
  • Multi-processing
  • Advanced I/O handling
  • Generators and co-routines

Advanced Python courses can be challenging and are targeted for more experienced programmers who are already familiar with the core Python programming language.

Python training audience

Because Python is one of the more user-friendly of the programming languages, it can be learned by those with little to no programming experience. Students interested in learning a programming language that is best for lighter applications and projects would benefit from starting with Python training. This language is also easily accessible since it runs on a wide variety of platforms and operating systems.

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ColdFusion training

Adobe's ColdFusion, a dynamic development system that supports the creation of application servers and other software products, is known among coders and employers alike for its unique scripting language. ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML) is similar to the widely used HTML. ColdFusion also integrates with other scripting languages, including ActionScript and Flash, which makes it a software platform with diverse applications. While ColdFusion has a number of uses among developers, it is commonly found in applications such as data-based websites and intranets.

How ColdFusion courses can shape a career

Tech expert Raymond Camden has been working with ColdFusion for more than a decade and has been Adobe certified since 1997. He began his development career building websites with ColdFusion and now works with Adobe as a developer evangelist, focusing on jQuery, Flex, AIR and the mobile space. Additionally, Camden blogs at ColdFusionJedi.com.

"For me, ColdFusion has been very effective and very powerful," Camden wrote in an email. "ColdFusion has always had a strong slant towards being practical, i.e., making hard things easy."

Camden recommends that aspiring developers seek out ColdFusion training for those reasons, and because its CFML language is simple to learn.

"I find ColdFusion's focus on practicality to be a huge productivity gain. It has a tag-based language that makes it much easier for non-developers to pick up on," he said. "For people with more traditional backgrounds, you can make use of scripting and all your normal programming techniques to build out powerful applications."

Who can benefit from ColdFusion training?

The diverse applications of this platform can make it useful for both Web developers and application developers. Here are some other IT professionals that could benefit from ColdFusion courses:

  • Computer systems analysts can communicate more effectively with developers who code using CFML.
  • Computer programmers are likely to find more opportunities when they expand their knowledge base, and familiarity with CFML and ColdFusion applications might create more room for career advancement.
  • Web designers can create sites with practical applications when they understand the limitations and functions of ColdFusion.

As with training for other programming platforms and markup languages, ColdFusion courses are usually most valuable to detail-oriented individuals who already possess some expertise with computers and software applications.

ColdFusion courses and certifications

ColdFusion courses offer many options. The vendor, Adobe, supports both online and instructor-led training programs. Location-based, instructor-led courses offer in-person, hands-on learning, while Web-based seminars allow learners to work at their own pace and conquer skills on their own time.

Entry-level courses usually cover what it takes to start building dynamic Web applications, while advanced-level courses might cover using the ColdFusion application servers on Microsoft Windows platforms, object-relational mapping or ORM, enterprise code maintenance, and advanced scalability/caching techniques.

ColdFusion training can also result in vendor certification. Adobe offers its Adobe Certified Expert endorsement for developers in ColdFusion, which requires candidates to pass one exam about the platform.

With so many functions and practical abilities, as described by Camden above, ColdFusion training could be a wise investment.

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Agile training

Agile Software Development is a model for building applications using fluid and efficient software design, incorporating teamwork and methods such as Extreme Programming, or XP. Examples of Agile training classes include Agile Project Management and Scrum Developer Workshop.

What skills can be learned through Agile training?

Agile courses can teach students about skills that are central to this methodology, according to the Agile manifesto:

  • Satisfy customers by delivering valuable software early and continuously
  • Harness changing development requirements to fuel competitive advantage
  • Engage in daily communication between developers and businesspeople
  • Build projects around driven individuals and trust them to do the job right
  • Deliver working software often, with emphasis on shorter time scales

Apart from the core guidelines of this methodology, students in Agile courses learn specific areas of the system and how to apply them. Software training firms offer subjects such as test-driven development and Agile for product owners or executives.

One might say that Agile training provides its students with meta skills, in that this method is designed to improve the efficiency of concrete skills such as programming and planning. Agile courses won't teach how to code, but they can teach students how to use their coding skills for more efficient development.

Who is best suited to Agile training?

Since Agile courses provide advanced training in software lifecycle methodology, students are encouraged to have some background in programming and development. Established software professionals looking to add value to their CV are prospective candidates, as well as recent college graduates, especially those who focused on computer science or engineering in school. Executives who supervise technical departments, such as CTOs and CIOs, can stay on top of their game with Agile training.

Are there jobs that require Agile training?

Enterprises and organizations around the globe are exploring the Agile development framework. For example, Computer Weekly reported on a pilot U.K. government website that used techniques such as Agile software development.

Here are some job openings where Agile training would be useful:

  1. Senior QA Engineer
  2. Java Application Developer
  3. Senior .Net Developer
  4. Senior Java Developer
  5. Software Architect

Of course, industry experience and a proven track record of deliverables can sometimes substitute for formal training. Some jobs that require a background in the methodology might hire exceptional candidates without it, as long as they attend Agile courses within a certain period of time.

What Agile certifications are available?

Agile courses could help prepare candidates for certifications such as ScrumMaster Certification or Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP). Certifications can lead to higher overall value as an employee, and credentials from Agile courses are no exception.

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Perl training

Perl is a flexible yet powerful programming language with a variety of potential purposes, including web development, system administration and GUI development. Perl training can prepare programmers to use this tool for rapid application development or complex system development. Perl 5 runs on over 100 platforms, including UNIX, Mac and Microsoft Windows operating systems. The Perl website describes it as powerful, stable, mature and portable.

Perl training: Who is best suited for it?

It might be helpful for those interested in Perl training to have a knowledge of programming and software development in general, as a foundation. However, Perl is intended to be easy to use, and those with little to no background in coding can make good use of Perl training as well. Usually programmers or developers are the target audience for this type of training, but it may be useful for system and network administrators and software engineers as well.

Perl training and community resources

The options for Perl training include these resources on the Perl website and elsewhere:

  • Free online Perl books
  • Local Perl communities
  • Online FAQs and getting started pages
  • Videos from Perl workshops and conferences
  • A list of recommended modules for day-to-day tasks

Community learning opportunities allow individuals to take advantage of Perl resources such as mailing lists, chats, conferences and workshops, blogs, and a variety of foundations that support Perl. For example, there are online communities devoted to sharing Perl knowledge and coding tips.

The Learn Perl page offers presentations, such as Introduction to Perl, which are recommended as a supplement to more traditional Perl courses. In addition, FAQs are downloaded as part of the Perl distribution.

Elements of Perl courses

A number of training vendors offer Perl courses. An introductory course in Perl would cover a range of topics such as these:

  • Perl syntax fundamentals
  • Creating effective, reusable Perl scripts that can be used on various platforms
  • Using Perl operators and built-in functions
  • Using Perl for looping, decisions and flow-control
  • Using Perl for writing subroutines

Courses with hands-on exercises that allow students to practice and test what they're learning are best for mastering programming languages.

Job outlook for those with Perl training

The debate over creating a Perl credential is ongoing. Many see it as a way to demonstrate Perl expertise, while others see it as a meaningless certificate. There is currently no official Perl certification though some schools offer Perl Programming Certificates as part of their coursework.

The Perl Job Site counts 1 million Perl programmers across the globe. Jobs.perl.org posts open positions at major e-commerce and high-tech firms, with job titles such as Senior Perl Programmer, Perl Developer, Perl Web Developer and Perl Software Engineer. Positions that are specifically asking for Perl programming language skills will likely require Perl training or significant equivalent work experience in Perl. For those developers looking to differentiate and deepen their programming skill set, Perl training could offer a competitive advantage.

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AJAX training

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, or AJAX for short, is a bundle of Web development technologies that can empower designers to create efficient and flexible online sites and applications.

Who should attend AJAX courses?

Creative people with technological leanings can usually make the most of AJAX training, because of the combination of artistic and technical elements present in Web design. It is recommended that candidates for AJAX training possess at least some familiarity with JavaScript.

Web developers are members of the professional category that stands to gain the greatest advantage from AJAX courses. High quality websites make use of asynchronous data transmission to streamline the user experience, and designers who know the protocols and procedures of this popular development toolkit may find their skills in high demand.

The line between software application and website has become blurrier in recent years with the prominence of web-based applications like Facebook, Twitter and Google Docs. This extensive Web and mobile deployment of software apps suggests software engineers shouldn't overlook the potential benefits of AJAX training.

What can AJAX training teach?

Students in AJAX courses usually begin by learning the core components of AJAX:

  • JavaScript
  • XHTML
  • XML
  • CSS
  • JSON

Perhaps the most exciting tools learned in AJAX training are the XMLHttpRequest object, which enables the system's asynchronous data functions, and the Document Object Model (DOM), which enables interaction between JavaScript, HTML and XML.

AJAX courses also prepares students to handle communication errors, secure vulnerable JSON data, optimize functionality, leverage client libraries, work with cross-domain scripts and set up efficient data exchange frameworks.

Are there any certifications available after completing AJAX courses?

An article in AJAX Magazine cites a certification available from BrainBench, an online training and assessment resource. The certification process consists of 40 test questions with a two-hour time limit. Other certification options exist around the Web, as well, and most of them follow this format.

Whether certification can enhance a candidate's chances of employment is a matter of employer preference, although certifications do typically help a resume stand out from the pile. Even if they have a background in JavaScript or Web design, students are encouraged to undergo formal or informal AJAX training before attempting an exam for AJAX certification.

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Software development training

Software development takes more than just memorizing commands and syntax. During a comprehensive program of software development training, students typically gain perspective on the entire software lifecycle. They'll also typically learn methods to create effective algorithms and study best practices such as version control, debugging, unit testing and profiling.

The specific details of software development training programs can vary based on the type of software the student is learning to develop. Applications software development courses may focus on issues of cross-platform compatibility and Web deployment, while systems software training might contain material about assembly language and enterprise networking protocols.

Who is best suited for software development courses?

Software development courses can help set any technically inclined individual on the right track to one of these emerging careers. The best candidates for software development training are usually detail-oriented people with strong problem-solving skills. A tendency toward analytical thinking and the capacity for concentration on multiple simultaneous tasks can also be significant advantages.

In the workplace, the ability to communicate effectively with fellow IT workers as well as nontechnical staff personnel can help professionals use their software development training to its fullest potential.

Is there a difference between formal and informal software development training?

Most software development training programs take place in a traditional university environment, although there are programs available in the virtual classroom for students without enough time to commit to a full-time campus education. The vast and detailed nature of the software development profession, as well as the educational requirements of many development jobs, makes this sort of formal coursework a generally better option than a more casual form of study.

What certifications are available after completing software development training?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is one of several organizations that can provide certification to software development professionals. Many universities also provide students with the opportunity to earn specialized certificates while completing their general software development courses. Software powerhouse Microsoft also offers certification programs for software developers.

Each of these credentials can typically be earned after two years in a software development field, and employers who use Microsoft products may require qualified applicants to have earned one or more vendor certifications before considering them for employment.

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What training or certification does it take to become a computer hardware engineer?

Career seekers looking to get into computer hardware engineering will typically need a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering to be considered by employers, although computer science degree paths may allow students to concentrate on the engineering aspect of the field. At some institutions, electrical engineering degrees may be earned alongside a computer hardware engineering certificate.

Because of the speed with which technology advances, computer hardware engineers should expect to undertake ongoing training throughout their careers. As new components, protocols and methodologies hit the market, hardware engineering professionals can gain new and valuable knowledge and tools to help them produce the highest quality work possible.

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What training or certification is necessary to become a computer software engineer?

According to O*NET, 75 percent of applications engineers have completed a bachelor's degree, while 17 percent held master's degrees and 7 percent hold associate degrees. In systems software engineering, 54 percent of respondents had earned a four-year degree and 23 had continued their education through graduate work.

Computer software engineers typically earn their bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics, or computer information systems. Some employers tend to prefer applicants who have earned four-year degrees in these or related fields, although some computer software engineer jobs are held by people with no more formal education than a high school diploma or associate degree.

Product vendors like IBM and Cisco offer certification programs that can help aspiring computer software engineers round out their IT skillsets. While specialized certifications are not a perfect substitute for hands-on experience or formal education in the field, they can help students and professionals to become familiar with specific programs and hardware and add in-demand skills to their repertory.

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What training or certification does a systems software engineer need?

A bachelor's degree in software engineering or computer science is the standard minimum qualification for a career as a systems software engineer. According to O*NET, more than half of systems software developers had a bachelor's degree in 2010, while nearly one-quarter held a master's degree.

A software engineering degree is designed to provide the necessary foundation in computer science, mathematics and engineering. In addition, systems software engineers may build an applied skill set working with UNIX or Linux systems, operating systems such as Microsoft Windows 7 and programming languages like Java, Python, Perl, C, C++ and PHP or shell script.

Certifications offer additional skills development. Examples include IEEE's Certified Software Development Professional, or CSDP and the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute's certifications, such as Computer Security, Process Improvement, Service-Oriented Architecture and Resilience Management. Available certification areas for systems software engineers include security, virtualization, system architecture and servers. Credentials are also available from vendors like Microsoft, IBM and Apple. Certification gives systems software engineers an opportunity to extend and validate their professional skill sets.

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What training or certification does a computer applications software engineer need?

A typical undergraduate computer software engineering degree includes general education courses plus extra math and science coursework in addition to courses such as distributed software development, software analysis and design and software quality assurance and testing.

Software engineering jobs typically require a bachelor's degree, although a master's degree is sometimes preferred. A two-year degree or certificate may be adequate for some computer programming jobs.

The usual college majors for applications software engineers are computer science, software engineering or mathematics. For scientific or engineering applications, employers often prefer a degree in computer or information science, mathematics, engineering or the physical sciences. For business applications, college courses in management information systems and business are also useful. A specialized graduate degree is needed for some jobs.

What certifications do computer applications software engineers seek?

In addition to academic training, students may choose to complement their education with vendor-focused or technology-based certification. Certification can be an important step toward demonstrating qualifications and experience. Here are a few certifications for software applications engineers and developers:

  • Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD): This certification requires two to three years of experience with .NET Framework, Visual Studio and other Microsoft development technologies.
  • Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA): Offered by the IEEE, the CSDA is designed for both entry-level software professionals and graduating software engineers.
  • Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP): Another IEEE certification, the CSDP is geared towards mid-career software professionals.
  • IBM Certified Application Developer DB2 9: This credential was created specifically for developers who aspire to work on any of the DB2 platforms, including Linux, UNIX, Microsoft Windows, s/390, z/OS and iSeries.

Certification may be earned by recent graduates of engineering programs, or it may be part of a continuing education requirement for certain employers. The rapid advances within application engineering technology tend to demand an evolving education plan among workers.

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What training or certification is required to become a cloud engineer?

Cloud engineers commonly have a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in computing science or a related area. They will often move into the field of cloud engineering from the discipline of networking engineering, or from another related job role such as database administrator or system analyst.

There are several training and certification programs for cloud-based technologies:

  • Microsoft offers a version of its Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification that is specialized in cloud technologies, the MCSE: Private Cloud designation.
  • CompTIA offers two vendor-neutral, cloud-related designations: the entry-level Cloud Essentials certification, and the more advanced Cloud+ certification.
  • IBM has two cloud-related designations in its training and certification program: the IBM Certified Cloud Solution Architect, v1 and v3.

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What training or certification is required to become a big data engineer?

Job postings for big data engineers typically ask for candidates with a minimum of a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, with several years' experience in Java programming, network engineering and database administration.

Oracle offers two certifications for Java SE 7 programmers:

  • Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 7 Programmer: The basic Oracle certification for Java SE 7, contingent on passing the 1ZO-803 Java SE 7 Programmer exam.
  • Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 7 Programmer: Oracle's second level certification, issued upon passing the 1Z0-804 Java SE 7 Programmer II exam, which is taken after completing the 1Z0-803.

Cloudera, a big data technology company, offers a number of certifications related to Hadoop, the current industry leading software framework for big data deployments:

  • Cloudera Certified Professional: Data Scientist (CCP:DS): Aimed at experts who are able to design and develop a production-quality big data solution.
  • Cloudera Certified Developer for Apache Hadoop (CCDH): Issued to programmers who've demonstrated an ability to create and maintain Apache Hadoop development projects.
  • Cloud Certified Administrator for Apache Hadoop (CCAH): The CCAH is geared towards administrators who run maintenance operations for a Hadoop cluster.
  • Cloudera Certified Specialist in Apache HBase (CCSHB): Geared towards individuals who work with HBase, the Java database model that powers Hadoop.

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Computer Engineering Pay and Career Outlook

  • Careers for grads of computer engineering programs
    1. Computer Hardware Engineer Salary
    2. Computer Software Engineer Salary
    3. Computer Systems Software Engineering Salary
    4. Computer Applications Software Engineer Salary
    5. Cloud Engineer Salary
    6. Big Data Engineer Salary

A computer engineering degree leads to a career designing or supporting digital hardware and software for computing devices.

Design and development job titles, accessible with a bachelor's degree or higher, include:

  • Lead software engineer
  • Computer hardware engineer
  • Testing engineer
  • Engineering R&D manager
  • Software architect

Support roles, which require a technical certificate or associate degree in computer engineering, include:

  • Network or systems administrator
  • Wireless network technician
  • Network support technician
  • Computer support specialist
  • Data communications analyst

According to the IEEE Computer Society, hot sectors in computer engineering include cloud computing, health information systems, and computer graphics software development. The Association of Computing Machinery profiles opportunities for computer engineers in computer security research, computer engineering management, quality assurance engineering, embedded systems engineering and health information technology.

Computer engineering is among the fastest growing career fields in the nation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports much faster than average job growth in the 2008-to-2018 period, with computer software engineering jobs growing by 32 percent. A computer engineering degree offers a versatile credential for careers in computer systems design and maintenance.

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What is the job outlook for computer hardware engineers?

Employment opportunities for computer hardware engineers are expected to increase according to the BLS. The job market for these computing professionals is expected to see fierce competition from international markets in the coming years.

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Computer Hardware Engineers - U.S.7%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

An upshot of the outlook for this profession is that computer hardware engineers are most likely to find gainful employment in the computer systems design industry. The BLS reports that computer systems design and related services is expected to outpace most other industries nationwide in terms of growth.

What sort of salary can computer hardware engineers expect?

As is the case with many engineering professions, computer hardware engineers are likely to see larger salary figures than average, at the entry level and beyond. Here is one sample of data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

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What is the job outlook for computer software engineers?

According to the BLS, job opportunities for computer software engineers are projected to increase significantly. As with computer hardware engineering, the domestic job market for software engineers will see growing competition from qualified candidates in other countries.

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Software Developers, Systems Software - U.S.20%
Software Developers, Applications - U.S.22%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

The BLS cites the rapid growth of computer networking as one of the forces behind this expansion in the job market, alongside increased reliance on sophisticated electronic data processing in business, communications, government, health care and other industries. The prominence of wireless handheld devices in the consumer market also promises to hold opportunities for computer software engineers, especially those who work on applications.

What sort of salary can a computer software engineer expect?

BLS data shows that computer software engineers are receiving decent compensation, with a range of salaries based on the particular specialization the engineer has. Here are some numbers for application software developers, followed by similar data for systems software developers.

Job TitleBottom 10% Annual WageAnnual Median WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Software Developers, Systems Software - U.S.63140101410150760
Software Developers, Applications - U.S.5577092660143540
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

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What is the job outlook for computer systems software engineers?

Computer systems software developers can expect much faster than average job growth throughout the 2008-2018 period, according to the BLS. New jobs for systems and applications software engineers will likely be driven by demand for internet and networking technologies.

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Software Developers, Systems Software - U.S.20%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What is the salary for systems software engineering jobs?

BLS data provides the following median salary numbers for systems software engineers:

*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

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What's the job outlook for computer applications software engineers?

The BLS predicts excellent future growth opportunities for applications software engineers, thanks in part to an increasing demand for applications on mobile devices:

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Software Developers, Applications - U.S.22%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What is a typical salary for computer applications software engineers?

BLS data provides the following median salary numbers for computer applications software engineers:

*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

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What's the job outlook for cloud engineers?

Although people have been talking about "the cloud" for well over two decades, it's really been in the last 6-8 years that cloud technology has been leveraged by both the private and public sectors. The growth in cloud technology is reflected in recent job outlook statistics from the BLS:

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Computer Network Architects - U.S.14%
Database Administrators - U.S.15%
Network and Computer Systems Administrators - U.S.11%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What's the salary for cloud engineers?

Job TitleBottom 10% Annual WageAnnual Median WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Computer Network Architects - U.S.5392095380145700
Database Administrators - U.S.4372078520120990
Network and Computer Systems Administrators - U.S.4527074000117150
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What's the job outlook for big data engineers?

Due to the relative newness of the field and the vast and complex skill sets required, there is a widely reported shortage of all types of big data experts, including big data engineers.

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Computer and Information Research Scientists - U.S.15%
Computer Network Architects - U.S.14%
Computer Occupations, All Other - U.S.3%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What's the salary for big data engineers?

As the job role of big data engineer is relatively new, there are no official salary numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of 2013. Related statistics are challenging to report, as the big data engineer role encompasses multiple disciplines.

Job TitleBottom 10% Annual WageAnnual Median WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Computer and Information Research Scientists - U.S.61300106290158800
Computer Network Architects - U.S.5392095380145700
Computer Occupations, All Other - U.S.4509082340121230
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

Computer Engineer Certifications

When it comes to computer engineers, the most relevant professional certifications are offered by the vendors who make the most popular hardware and software tools and components used in the profession. Vendors who offer certification programs for their products include Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, and Red Hat Linux.

Other industry organizations who offer relevant computing technology certifications include CompTIA, IEEE, and ITIL.

For software engineers, there are numerous industry certifications available for most popular programming languages, including Java, Python, C++, and Ruby.

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