Computer engineering is a highly technical discipline that combines computer science and electrical engineering. Essentially, it is a comprehensive study of computer systems. Special emphasis is placed on the design and implementation of hardware and software, in addition to processor design and digital interfacing. The bachelor’s degree in computer engineering provides the specialized instruction and hands-on training needed to become a computer hardware engineer or another technical professional.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree?
In general, a certificate or associate degree alone will not satisfy most employers’ minimum educational requirements for computer engineering. Therefore, interested students usually pursue a bachelor’s degree to work in this technical field as an entry-level computer hardware engineer. Students rarely need more than a bachelor’s degree to do this job, so it may not be worth the extra time or money to attend graduate school. If you later decide to earn your master’s degree or pursue a different track altogether, the bachelor’s degree program will provide an excellent foundation for your future endeavors.
Getting Into a Bachelor’s Degree Program
Before you can enroll in this technical degree program, all applicants must meet certain educational requirements. Depending on the college or individual program, student admission is typically based on the following information:
- High school diploma or its equivalent
- Desired scores on the SAT, ACT, and/or acceptance exam
- Minimum GPA
Inside a Computer Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Program
The online computer engineering degree program typically lasts four years, depending on the school and semester course load. Students in this program will take a wide variety of general and major courses, including software engineering, data communications and networking, computer architecture, operating systems, digital systems, and more. Many computer engineering programs offer co-ops or internships to help students gain valuable work experience and network with industry professionals.
The curriculum and objectives of the online computer engineering bachelors degree programs are virtually the same as the traditional, campus-based ones. Students don’t have to sacrifice educational quality for the conveniences of online classes. Online course content is delivered in a variety of formats, including text documents, audio or video lectures, slideshow presentations, and modules that are accessible on an online learning management system provided by the school.
What’s Next for Computer Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Holders?
Graduates of the online computer engineering bachelor degree program are prepared to work in a number of different occupations. The most popular and direct career path for these degree holders is to become a computer hardware engineer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of computer hardware engineers is expected to increase 9% by 2020, with the most growth occurring in computer consulting firms. In 2010, the average annual salary for this occupation was $98,810. The federal government, computer and electronic product manufacturing, computer systems design, and scientific research and development services were the top-employing industries for this job.
Although most computer hardware engineers only need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in this subject, some employers, specifically large firms or specialized jobs, may require a higher degree for employment. In this case, the next education options would likely be to earn a master’s degree in computer engineering, business administration, or another complementary field. Another faster and cheaper option is to earn a specialty certificate or take continuing education courses to acquire new skills and increase your marketability.