Advances in computer technology depend on the talents of computer hardware engineers.
Computer hardware engineers develop, test and manage the production of computer hardware. They may handle complete computer systems or they can concentrate on specialties like circuit boards, routers and printers. Jobs are expected to grow by four percent until 2018, which is slower than the national projected average for all occupations. This will result in slower-than-average growth in salaries.
Computer hardware engineers need a minimum bachelor’s degree to enter the profession, although basic research or more advanced jobs may require higher levels of education. All 50 states also require a license for any professionals offering services directly to the public. Finally, voluntary certification from computer vendors or from professional societies may improve prospects and increase salaries. Those engineers with all these qualifications earn a median salary of $98,820 per year, with a range of $60,690 to $148,910. Hourly rates are $47.51, with a range of $29.18 to $71.59.
The PayScale Report shows only slight increases for computer hardware engineers within the first four years. New employees receive $49,534 to $70,791, while pay for those with one to four years of work are $50,441 to $71,438. Compensation leaps to a range of $64,735 to $98,397 for five to nine years of work, and shows increases for 10 to 19 years in the upper range at $61,042 to $111,114. Finally, at 20 or more years, pay tops out at $72,208 to $131,608.
One industry depends on computer hardware engineers to create its products: computer systems design, which consequently hires the most professionals at almost 23 percent of the total 65,410 jobs. Compensation at $48.30 or $100,460 is better than the median. The industries with the best pay are lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets (such as patents), which pay $60.67 or $126,200.
The state with the best employment opportunities for computer hardware engineers is Colorado, with nearly 1.4 jobs per 1,000 workers. Salaries here are better than the median at $52.15 per hour or $108,480 per year. The state with the best pay is the District of Columbia at $56.09 or $116,660. Job concentration is slightly less at 1.2 engineers per 1,000 workers. The metro area with the most jobs is San Jose, California, which is in Silicon Valley, the heart of the computer industry. Job concentration is at 9.3 per 1,000, with pay at $57.63 or $119,880. The best pay is just south at Santa Barbara, California, at $70.24 or $146,100, but with a minuscule concentration of 0.3 per 1,000.