Computer Hardware Engineers

What Computer Hardware Engineers Do

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components.

Work Environment

Computer hardware engineers usually work in research laboratories that build and test various types of computer models. Most work in computer systems design services and in manufacturing.

How to Become a Computer Hardware Engineer

Most computer hardware engineers need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program.


The median annual wage for computer hardware engineers was $117,220 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of computer hardware engineers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations. 

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers.


Computer hardware engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new computer hardware, creating schematics of computer equipment to be built
  • Test the computer hardware they design
  • Analyze the test results and modify the design as needed
  • Update existing computer equipment so that it will work with new software
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for computer hardware

Many hardware engineers design devices used in manufactured products that incorporate processors and other computer components and that connect to the Internet. For example, many new cars, home appliances, and medical devices have Internet-ready computer systems built into them.

Computer hardware engineers ensure that computer hardware components work together with the latest software. Therefore, hardware engineers often work with software developers. For example, the hardware and software for mobile phones and other devices frequently are developed at the same time.

Computer hardware engineers held about 71,100 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of computer hardware engineers were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 22%
Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing 12
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 11
Federal government 7
Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing 7

Work Schedules

Most computer hardware engineers work full time.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of computer hardware engineers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.

Bachelor’s degree $116,500

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists invent and design new approaches to computing technology and find innovative uses for existing technology.

Master’s degree $122,840

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization.

Bachelor’s degree $146,360

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.

Bachelor’s degree $112,690

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly.

Bachelor’s degree $86,550

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment.

Bachelor’s degree $101,250

Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Bachelor’s degree $88,430

Software Developers

Software developers create the applications or systems that run on a computer or another device.

Bachelor’s degree $107,510

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks.

Bachelor’s degree $83,510

For more information about computer hardware engineers, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

IEEE Computer Society

For more information about ABET-accredited college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology, visit



For a career video on computer hardware engineers, visit

Computer Hardware Engineers


Computer Hardware Engineers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Hardware Engineers,
at (visited ).