Summary Report for:
17-2061.00 - Computer Hardware Engineers
Research, design, develop, or test computer or computer-related equipment for commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use. May supervise the manufacturing and installation of computer or computer-related equipment and components.
Sample of reported job titles: Design Engineer, Engineer, Field Service Engineer, Hardware Design Engineer, Hardware Engineer, Network Engineer, Project Engineer, Senior Hardware Engineer, Systems Engineer, Systems Integration Engineer
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Update knowledge and skills to keep up with rapid advancements in computer technology.
- Build, test, and modify product prototypes using working models or theoretical models constructed with computer simulation.
- Write detailed functional specifications that document the hardware development process and support hardware introduction.
- Specify power supply requirements and configuration, drawing on system performance expectations and design specifications.
- Confer with engineering staff and consult specifications to evaluate interface between hardware and software and operational and performance requirements of overall system.
- Design and develop computer hardware and support peripherals, including central processing units (CPUs), support logic, microprocessors, custom integrated circuits, and printers and disk drives.
- Select hardware and material, assuring compliance with specifications and product requirements.
- Monitor functioning of equipment and make necessary modifications to ensure system operates in conformance with specifications.
- Test and verify hardware and support peripherals to ensure that they meet specifications and requirements, by recording and analyzing test data.
- Direct technicians, engineering designers or other technical support personnel as needed.
- Provide technical support to designers, marketing and sales departments, suppliers, engineers and other team members throughout the product development and implementation process.
- Store, retrieve, and manipulate data for analysis of system capabilities and requirements.
- Evaluate factors such as reporting formats required, cost constraints, and need for security restrictions to determine hardware configuration.
- Analyze user needs and recommend appropriate hardware.
- Analyze information to determine, recommend, and plan layout, including type of computers and peripheral equipment modifications.
- Assemble and modify existing pieces of equipment to meet special needs.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Brushless motor DC — Direct current DC power supplies
- Calibrated resistance measuring equipment — Resistance meters
- Capacitance meters — Inductance capacitance resistance LCR meters
- Circuit tester — Circuit memory testers; Circuit testers
- Desktop computers
- Digital testers — Bit error rate testers BERT
- Electronic measuring probes — Logic probes; Probe card devices; Probe stations
- Feeler gauges
- Frequency analyzers — Spectrum analyzers
- Frequency calibrator or simulator — Dynamic signal analyzers; Signal source analyzers
- Frequency counters or timer or dividers — Frequency counters
- General purpose motor AC — Alternating current AC power sources
- Heated walk in environmental or growth chambers — Thermal chambers
- Impedance meters — Impedance analyzers
- Integrated circuit testers — Digital analysis systems DAS; Logic analyzers
- Level generators — Pulse generators
- Magnifiers — Inspection scopes
- Mainframe computers
- Network analyzers — Communications analyzers; Traffic generators
- Notebook computers — Laptop computers
- Oscilloscopes — Communications signal analyzers; Sampling oscilloscopes
- Personal computers
- Personal digital assistant PDAs or organizers — Personal digital assistants PDA
- Plotter printers — Color plotters
- Power meters — Alternating current AC power analyzers; Power sensors
- Protocol analyzers — Protocol exercisers
- Scanners — Computer scanners
- Signal generators — Function generators; Pattern generators; Universal source generators
- Voltage or current meters — Voltage sensors
- Wave generators — Waveform generators
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — Cadence Dracula; SAS ; The MathWorks MATLAB ; Xilinx Synthesis Technology XST (see all 52 examples)
- Compiler and decompiler software — Cadence Encounter RTL Compiler
- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD ; Mathsoft Mathcad; Mentor Graphics Xpedition xDX Designer; Xilinx ISE Foundation (see all 16 examples)
- Data base user interface and query software — Database software; Microsoft Access ; Structured query language SQL
- Development environment software — C ; Microsoft Visual Basic ; SystemVerilog; Verilog (see all 13 examples)
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Microsoft Visio
- Information retrieval or search software — Internet search engine software
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Object or component oriented development software — C++ ; Microsoft Visual C# .NET; Practical extraction and reporting language Perl ; SKILL (see all 6 examples)
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Cisco Systems IOS; Linux ; Shell script; UNIX
- Pattern design software — Block diagram software
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Program testing software — Windows kernel debuggers
- Project management software
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
Detailed Work Activities
- Update technical knowledge.
- Create physical models or prototypes.
- Prepare procedural documents.
- Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
- Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans.
- Determine operational criteria or specifications.
- Design electronic or computer equipment or instrumentation.
- Select project materials.
- Monitor processes for compliance with standards.
- Conduct validation tests of equipment or processes.
- Supervise engineering or other technical personnel.
- Recommend technical design or process changes to improve efficiency, quality, or performance.
- Analyze design requirements for computer or electronics systems.
- Advise customers on the use of products or services.
- Assemble equipment or components.
- Provide technical guidance to other personnel.
- Train personnel on proper operational procedures.
- Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 73% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 86% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 64% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 77% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Telephone — 55% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 50% responded “Extremely important.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 45% responded “Very important.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 59% responded “Some freedom.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 33% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Level of Competition — 41% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Contact With Others — 36% responded “Contact with others about half the time.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 50% responded “Important results.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 41% responded “Very important.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 43% responded “High responsibility.”
- Time Pressure — 32% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: IRC
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2015)||$53.72 hourly, $111,730 annual|
|Employment (2014)||78,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Slower than average (2% to 4%)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||18,400|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Computer hardware engineers . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.