Computer Engineer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Computer Engineer, or Software Engineer, is responsible for designing computer systems, software and hardware applications. Their duties include creating various types of hardware and software like routers, circuit boards or computer programs; testing their designs to correct defects and overseeing computer networks.

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Computer Engineer duties and responsibilities

A Computer Engineer performs many technical and collaborative tasks to develop, fix and update the systems they work on. Their duties and responsibilities often include: 

  • Collaborating with senior Engineers, Designers, Developers and Project Managers to establish goals and deadlines
  • Researching current and new technologies and programming solutions
  • Using the development plans and designs from other team members to build software and hardware
  • Writing and creating programs for specific uses per company or client needs
  • Troubleshooting database anomalies, problems, inefficiencies and data loss
  • Compiling and presenting monthly progress and operational reports to the management team
  • Handling technical support queries on major and minor bug fixes and other issues
  • Integrating updates and new features to existing software and hardware
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What does a Computer Engineer do?

Computer Engineers typically work for corporations or computer companies to design and implement hardware and software to maximize productivity. They work closely with other Computer Engineers, Computer Programmers and Network Architects to create and maintain computer systems. Their job is to assist company Executives in creating customized computer systems and making adjustments to existing systems. They may also be responsible for designing security software to protect networks from potential hackers.

Computer Engineer skills and qualifications

Computer Engineers must use many technical abilities and soft skills in their roles, including:

  • Expert knowledge of programming and computer engineering best practices 
  • In-depth understanding of relevant programming languages, including Python, Ruby, Java and C#
  • Familiarity with basic coding, program and design, such as HTML/CSS and database development
  • Understanding of integrated system management, content management systems and customer relationship management systems
  • Excellent communication skills, including speaking, writing and active listening
  • Great project management abilities, including time management, prioritization and organization
  • Good collaboration and teamwork skills

Computer Engineer salary expectations

Computer Engineers make an average of $87,420 per year. Salary may depend on level of education, experience and geographical location.

Computer Engineer education and training requirements

Entry-level candidates likely have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science or another relevant field. More experienced candidates may also have a master’s degree in computer engineering, computer science, network security or another specialized discipline. A master’s degree may be preferred for roles with specialized tasks or leadership responsibilities. All levels of candidates may also have previous training in programming languages and best practices and project management. Some may have professional certifications in specific programming fields or project management.

Computer Engineer experience requirements

Entry-level Computer Engineer candidates may have previous experience from internships or cooperative education programs completed during their studies. Other entry-level candidates may have 1 to 2 years of professional experience in a junior-level role or in technical support. Experienced Computer Engineer candidates with more than 5 years of experience may be suited for roles with more complex tasks or leadership responsibilities.

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Frequently asked questions about Computer Engineers

 

What is the difference between a Computer Engineer and a Computer Technician?

The difference between a Computer Technician and a Computer Engineer is that Computer Engineers hold more senior roles due to the nature of their job. For example, Computer Technicians need to have extensive knowledge of computers in order to carry out installations, systems upgrades and repairs to existing computer systems. In contrast, Computer Engineers are responsible for creating the hardware and software that Computer Technicians install. For this reason, Computer Engineers typically earn more than Technicians. Computer Technicians may communicate with Engineers regularly to notify them of recurring problems with hardware or software.

 

What are the daily duties of a Computer Engineer?

On a typical day, a Computer Engineer starts by participating in meetings with other Computer Engineers to discuss upcoming deadlines and new projects. Throughout the day, they write code and develop blueprints for hardware or software projects. Computer Engineers also consult with other professionals to determine the types of materials and parts needed to assemble a piece of computer hardware. They work with other Computer Engineers to test hardware or software and determine potential defects. They review blueprints to isolate the problem and identify methods to fix it.

 

What qualities make a good Computer Engineer?

A good Computer Engineer is someone who has an innovative mindset. This quality allows them to come up with creative solutions to design flaws in computer systems or budgeting constraints. It also helps them develop new and influential hardware and software applications that assist professionals in business, manufacturing and data storage. Further, a good Computer Engineer always looks for continued education opportunities to improve their coding and engineering skills. 

Computer Engineers enjoy working in teams to develop new software or hardware. They also value constructive criticism of their designs as they commit to creating the best systems possible for their employer.

 

Who does a Computer Engineer report to?

A Computer Engineer typically reports to the Senior Computer Engineer within their team or department to ask questions and perform specific tasks on their behalf. Computer Engineers may also report to the Computer Engineering Manager to receive assignments and maintain project deadlines.

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