What is a hardware developer

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A Guide to Becoming a Hardware Engineer: Unveiling the World of Hardware Engineering

In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, hardware engineers play a crucial role in designing, developing, and troubleshooting the physical components that power our digital world. If you have a passion for technology and enjoy working with circuits, devices, and systems, a career in hardware engineering might be the perfect fit for you. In this article, we will explore what hardware engineering entails, the responsibilities of a hardware engineer, and the path to becoming one.

What is Hardware Engineering?

Given the prevalence of computer systems in today’s world, the field of computer engineering has become remarkably diverse. Whether one’s focus is on personal computers, mobile devices, embedded systems, or other products, the role of a hardware engineer entails working with various components such as circuit boards, routers, networks, memory, and processors. These technologies are utilized collectively to develop a product that fulfills specific requirements.

Furthermore, computer hardware engineers acquire training, typically at the undergraduate level, in areas encompassing the design, development, testing, and debugging processes involved in creating their products. These educational programs often incorporate an element of programming to provide an understanding of the software developers’ needs when using the equipment.

Considering the specialized nature of this profession, pursuing a master’s degree in computer engineering or a related field can be advantageous. Additionally, honing soft skills associated with problem-solving, teamwork, and communication can greatly benefit hardware engineers in their work.

Which Industries Need a Hardware Engineer?

Businesses across various industries require hardware engineering expertise to meet their technological needs. Some of the sectors that heavily rely on hardware engineering include:

  1. Technology and Electronics: Companies manufacturing consumer electronics, computer hardware, smartphones, tablets, wearables, and other electronic devices rely on hardware engineering professionals to design and develop their products.
  2. Automotive and Transportation: The automotive industry utilizes hardware engineering for developing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), autonomous vehicles, infotainment systems, engine control units (ECUs), and other electronic components.
  3. Aerospace and Defense: The aerospace and defense sectors require hardware engineering expertise for designing avionics systems, communication equipment, radar systems, navigation systems, and other critical hardware components.
  4. Telecommunications: The telecommunications industry depends on hardware engineering for the development of networking equipment, wireless communication devices, and infrastructure.
  5. Industrial Automation: Industries focused on automation and control systems, robotics, manufacturing equipment, and industrial IoT solutions require hardware engineering professionals to design and optimize hardware components.

The hardware engineering market has experienced significant growth due to technological advancements and increasing demand for innovative products. The proliferation of IoT, AI, 5G, autonomous vehicles, and smart devices has contributed to the expansion of the hardware market. According to market research reports, the global hardware market is projected to continue growing in the coming years, driven by emerging technologies and the need for advanced hardware solutions in various industries.

What Does a Hardware Engineer’s Job Entail?

The responsibilities of a hardware engineer encompass the design, development, and testing of computer systems and components. Depending on the scale of the organization, one may work independently or as part of a small or large team.

When working individually or in a smaller setting, hardware engineers often handle the entire process themselves. However, in larger companies, they may specialize in a specific area of hardware design or testing.

This field is rapidly evolving, particularly in relation to embedded systems and mobile devices. Hardware engineers may be involved in extensive research and development projects aimed at creating new products or enhancing existing ones.

Outlined below are some of the key roles that hardware engineers may undertake:

  1. Hardware design: Hardware engineers participate in the creation and development of schematics for new computer hardware and systems.
  2. Testing and analysis: Hardware engineers are responsible for testing completed models, analyzing the results, and making design or component adjustments as necessary.
  3. Updating: Hardware engineers are involved in updating existing computer equipment and hardware to ensure compatibility and effective functioning with new software.
  4. Manufacturing oversight: Hardware engineers oversee the manufacturing process of newly designed equipment and hardware models.
  5. Research: Hardware engineers must stay updated on current engineering trends and continuously learn about new technologies to remain competitive.
  6. Programming knowledge: While expertise in computer programming is not a prerequisite for hardware engineers, having some knowledge in this area can be highly beneficial for design and testing purposes. However, it is essential for hardware engineers to be familiar with hardware description languages (HDLs), which are used to describe digital circuits within the hardware.

In summary, hardware engineers play a vital role in the design, development, testing, and updating of computer systems and components, staying abreast of technological advancements to contribute effectively in this rapidly evolving field.

How Can I Pursue a Career as a Hardware Engineer?

The path to becoming a hardware engineer can vary, but employers often prefer candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or computer science from an ABET-accredited program. In some cases, a master’s degree may be required for certain positions or organizations.

Through a 4-6 year educational journey, computer hardware engineering students acquire critical thinking skills, general programming knowledge, and hardware design abilities. They also learn to manage the various stages of the hardware design lifecycle and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Once employed, hardware engineers must keep pace with the ever-changing field. Continuing education courses, certificates, and bootcamps can assist these professionals in staying updated with the latest advancements.

Here are the steps typically involved in becoming a hardware engineer:

By following these steps, individuals can pave their way towards a successful career as a hardware engineer.

The Job Search Process

The journey to secure a position as a hardware engineer follows similar steps to other STEM fields. Students can initiate their job search even before graduation by utilizing resources offered by their educational institution, such as career fairs, internships, and career services. Joining professional engineering associations can also provide access to valuable networks, conferences, and job boards.

Highlighted below are some popular and beneficial job boards specifically for computer hardware engineering:

  • DICE: Recognized as one of the leading tech job boards, DICE boasts a membership of over 4.6 million individuals nationwide. Job seekers can utilize personalized search options to connect with tech organizations and recruiters. Additionally, DICE provides industry news and resources for career development.
  • IEEE Computer Society Career Center: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) offers various job resources to its members, including a dedicated job board. Users can post their resumes and receive targeted alerts for matching opportunities.
  • Society of Women Engineers Career Center: SWE’s career center serves a large community of more than 45,000 job seekers and over 20,000 technology and engineering employers. Members gain access to curated job postings and receive career advice tailored to their needs.
  • Ladders: This platform specializes in high-paying careers, particularly those with salaries exceeding $100,000. Engineers can focus on exploring higher-end engineering positions and employers.
  • LinkedIn: As the world’s largest professional network with over 875 million profiles, LinkedIn provides extensive opportunities for job seekers. Users can upload and promote their professional information, explore job postings, and learn about organizations.

These job boards offer a range of resources and connections for hardware engineers during their job search, assisting them in finding suitable positions and networking within the industry.

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What Skills are Required for a Hardware Engineer?

To excel as a hardware engineer, a combination of technical (hard) skills and soft skills is essential. These encompass the following:

Technical Skills:

Proficiency in Programming Languages

Hardware engineers need to possess programming skills to develop digital circuit boards and create components that can be utilized by developers and software engineers. Important programming languages for this field include Verilog, C, and C++.

Engineering Design Abilities

Hardware engineers must employ design methodologies, logic, and problem-solving skills to effectively plan and construct their systems. These skills, typically acquired through undergraduate programs, differentiate computer hardware engineering from broader programming and computer science domains.

Circuit Board Design Expertise

Hardware engineers should demonstrate proficiency in designing, testing, and analyzing printed circuit boards, which form the mechanical and electrical components of a computer.

Soft Skills

Critical Thinking Skills

These skills are crucial for creating designs that meet specific requirements. They also aid in problem-solving during testing, deployment, and manufacturing stages.


Hardware engineers often need to think creatively to develop innovative systems that address problems and fulfill requirements in novel ways.

Communication Skills

While hardware engineers may occasionally work independently, they frequently collaborate within larger teams. Effective communication is essential in such settings. Even those working autonomously need to communicate with software engineers, IT staff, or product managers to ensure that their designs align with the project’s objectives.

These skills are fundamental for all hardware engineers, regardless of their workplace or industry.

Source: BLS, BLS2, WGU


A hardware engineer plays a vital role in the field of technology and engineering. They are responsible for designing, developing, and testing hardware components and systems that power various electronic devices. A hardware engineer possesses a unique combination of technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and creativity.

Their expertise in areas such as circuit board design, programming languages, and engineering principles allows them to bring innovative ideas to life and contribute to the advancement of technology. Additionally, strong communication and teamwork skills enable them to collaborate effectively with other professionals, ensuring the successful integration of hardware and software components.

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the demand for skilled hardware engineers remains high. Their contributions are essential in industries such as consumer electronics, telecommunications, automotive, aerospace, and more. With their expertise, hardware engineers drive innovation, improve functionality, and enhance the overall performance of electronic devices.

If you are considering a career in hardware engineering, it is crucial to develop a solid foundation in technical skills, stay updated with the latest advancements in the field, and continuously enhance your problem-solving abilities. With dedication and passion, you can become a valuable asset in shaping the future of technology.