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Education Required to Be a Computer Engineer

A computer engineer may work on any aspect of computer systems engineering, from hardware to software. Computer engineers must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree and some internship experience to get a full-time job in the industry.

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Computer Engineer Career Overview

Computer engineers may work with software, hardware or applications and system development. They work to fulfill user needs based on usability, function and logic. Job duties include conceptualizing and designing new systems based on the needs of the end user, testing and troubleshooting various aspects of computer systems, including hardware, software programs and networking systems. Computer engineers may also be involved in the development of software, particularly from a hardware support and feasibility consulting position.

Required Education

A high school diploma or a GED equivalent is required to become a computer engineer. High school classes should focus on computer science, computer languages, mathematics and statistics. Prospective computer engineers may either opt to go directly for a bachelor's degree or complete an associate's degree as an intermediate step within the education required of a computer engineer. Many community, technical and vocational colleges offer programs in computer science, computer engineering and computer programming within their technology or information technology departments.

Generally, a bachelor's degree is the minimum education required of a computer engineer. Most employers require students to hold a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer programming, computer engineering, computer information systems, electrical engineering or similar computer-related fields. Employers have a strong preference for graduates with computer programming skills and a familiarity with a range of programming languages.

Taking an internship under the supervision of an experienced computer engineering professional is the best way to learn the skills and technical applications needed to be a computer engineer. Many internship programs may be available for college credit in any given major. Internships offer hands-on experience to otherwise inexperienced amateurs in the field. Most employers will not hire a computer engineer who does not have some relevant experience.

Professional certification for computer engineers is offered through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Certification serves as a boost for those looking to accelerate their career in the field of computer engineering. A bachelor's degree in addition to work experience is required to apply for the exam; a passing score on the written exam qualifies an individual as a Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP).

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