What is Hardware Engineering? Courses, Career & Salary
Computers have become the backbone of our civilization. Nearly all walks of life make use of computers in some way. The software that makes calculation, operations and storage of data simple and easy, run on hardware which needs to be properly configured for any system to run at optimal efficiency. This is where the role of hardware engineers comes into play. The primary focus of hardware engineers is on the research, designing, development, analysis and testing of computer components. Any computer is made up of numerous different parts, of which each piece has a distinct and irreplaceable function.
Hardware engineers ensure that all such components operate at optimal capacity, thereby allowing the computer user to operate optimally as well. An average day in the working life of a hardware engineer can include analysis of system requirements, assigning appropriate hardware to meet requirements, analysis of prototypes based on theoretical models and computer generated simulations, maintenance and analysis of system capacities and performances and training and supporting system designers.
As more and more domains begin to make use of computers, the need for hardware updating, maintenance and development will increase. Consequentially, this field is likely to increase in size along with the global expansion of computers and computing devices.
In order to become a computer hardware engineer, you must, at minimum, have a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. The majority of job offers and employers in the industry demand this as a minimum qualification for employment. Courses in hardware and networking can also be pursued.
Alternatively, graduates with electrical or electronic engineering may also be eligible. As the stature of the company rises, so do the minimum requirements.
Bachelor's degrees are usually sufficient for hardware engineering jobs, employment in large companies or corporations often requires the job aspirant to have a master's degree in computer engineering.
Another important criteria for selection is work experience, which can be the decisive factor between candidates competing for a job.
Becoming a hardware engineer requires you to have creative and analytical abilities, as a lot of the work in this field has to with analyzing and understanding flaws and design inconsistencies and recommending appropriate changes to address the same. Students looking to become computer hardware engineers must have programming skills, a competent understanding of electronic circuitry and quality control and analysis skills.
They also need to be able to create technical reports after analysis for submission. Contractual hardware engineers need to be able to communicate the nature of a problem to the client, so communication skills are also an asset. The understanding of applications and tools and methods used in software-hardware interface and maintenance is a definite advantage. Above all else, hardware engineers should be keenly interested in technology and be able to integrate new changes and development into their pre-existing knowledge.
In order to do computer hardware engineering as a private contractor, the concerned hardware engineer needs to obtain a license from the concerned professional body.
Career Scope & Job Prospects
Manufacturing firms, industrial plants and research laboratories are some of the places where computer hardware engineers are employed. In such places, computer hardware engineers are mostly involved in the design and development of new models and hardware products.
When they are not developing new models, they perform maintenance and quality analysis on existing designs, focusing on isolating and resolving performance problems and operational inconsistencies. Some engineers choose to become private hardware engineers, in which case they make house calls and perform maintenance on client systems.
They can also take contracts from individual companies or branches for the maintenance and upkeep of computers at offices.
Employment and Salary
The salary of a computer hardware engineer depends upon experience and the company. Bigger companies usually offer a larger salary. The gross annual salary for a computer hardware engineer can start at Rs. 72,394, according to PayScale.
The salary bracket can rise up to Rs. 476,781 in the 90th percentile. Compensation depends upon experience, responsibilities, size of the company and other factors.