What can you do with a computer engineering degree?

If you're eyeing a computer engineering degree, jobs for graduates are plentiful and varied. Here's what you need to know.
Written by Melissa Sartore, Contributor

Computer engineering jobs combine computer science and engineering fundamentals in business, IT, and academic environments.

If you're thinking about earning a degree to enter the field, identifying the computer engineering degree job you want can help you decide. You may find a fit in data science, web development, computer and information systems, or a related area.

What is it like to work in a computer engineering degree job?

Computer engineering unites computer science and electronic engineering to design, build, and operate computer hardware and software. 

Computer hardware engineers focus on computer systems and components, developing equipment like memory devices, routers, and processors. 

Software engineers create computer applications and systems software. They also modify existing software to meet the needs of users, patch bugs, and make updates.

Both hardware and software engineers work independently and as part of a team. Introverts and extroverts alike may thrive in computer engineering degree jobs, depending on the role's requirements. 

Remote work may be an option, but some jobs include time spent in an office or a lab.

Salaries for computer engineering degree jobs vary by education, experience level, and other factors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer hardware engineers earned an annual median pay of $128,170 in 2021, while the annual median pay for software engineers topped $110,000 in 2020. 

Computer engineering degree job options: Hardware and software

Some jobs in computer engineering require a computer engineering degree, but experience matters too. Having an undergraduate degree qualifies you for most entry-level jobs, while a computer engineering master's can help you secure a leadership role.

The job outlook for the two main divisions within computer engineering differs. The BLS projects a 2% growth in employment for computer hardware engineers by 2030, but software engineers positions are projected to grow 22%. 

Computer and information systems manager

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree

Salary expectations: $159,010 annual median pay (May 2021)

Computer and information systems managers oversee computer-related activities. They plan and direct computer hardware and systems installation and maintenance, supervise IT teams, and monitor organizations' cybersecurity.

Computer hardware engineer

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree

Salary expectations: $128,170 annual median pay (May 2021)

Computer hardware engineers develop computer systems and equipment. They research, design, and test components like circuit boards, processors, and memory devices. Computer hardware engineers also update existing hardware, often coordinating with software developers and vendors to keep up with developments. 

Computer network architect

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree

Salary expectations: $120,520 annual median salary (May 2021)

Tasked with designing and building data communication networks, computer network architects may focus on local area networks, wide area networks, intranets, or some combination of them. They take organizations' needs, budget, and security into consideration while troubleshooting problems and issues as they arise. 

Computer support specialist

Minimum degree level required: Certificate or associate degree

Salary expectations: $57,910 annual pay (May 2021)

Computer support specialists help computer hardware and software users and organizations. 

Computer network support specialists analyze and troubleshoot problems with networks and assist network users via email and phone. They also perform network maintenance.

Computer user support specialists communicate with individuals about computer problems, identify solutions, and walk them through the process. Computer user support specialists may train users, install hardware and software, and keep records of computer problems. 

Because these roles may be performed remotely and on a flexible schedule, they're good tech jobs for college students.

Computer systems analyst

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree

Salary expectations: $99,270 annual median pay (May 2021)

Computer systems analysts identify ways to improve existing computer systems within an organization. These IT professionals consider cost, benefits, functionality, and performance when designing or updating computer systems for organizations. Analysts test computer systems, write user manuals, and make adjustments when appropriate. 

Data scientist

Minimum degree level required: Master's degree or data science bootcamp

Salary expectations: $97,290 average base salary (April 2022)

Data scientists spot patterns and trends in data sets. Using programming, statistics, and machine learning, data scientists develop algorithms and apply models to data to identify and solve problems and find opportunities. They also document and present their findings.

SEE: Top data scientist jobs

Database administrator

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree

Salary expectations: $98,860 annual mean pay (May 2020)

Database administrators create and organize systems used to store data within organizations after identifying capacity, security, and structural needs. Database administrators may work in healthcare, business, or information technology. They handle proprietary and sensitive information. They also perform tests, make modifications, and update permissions.

Forensic computer analyst

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree, such as a computer forensics degree

Salary expectations: $74,800 average base salary (Feb. 2022)

These IT security professionals assess data from computer hardware and software to identify vulnerabilities, inconsistencies, and misuse. They look for patterns, recover information, and issue reports about computer forensic operations. Forensic computer analysts may work with law enforcement and regulatory agencies. They also stay current with computer forensic standards and practices. 

Game developer

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree

Salary expectations: $110,140 annual median pay (May 2020)

Love gaming and want to make your own video games? Game developers identify user needs, plan how game elements work together, and develop models and diagrams to instruct programmers. You'll need programming skills, too. Game developers test, fix, and update games.

SEE: How to become a video game developer

IT consultant

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree; an MBA may be beneficial

Salary expectations: $81,020 average base salary (April 2022)

These experts help organizations improve their information technology systems. IT consultants consider cost, efficiency, system requirements, and security. Computer science skills aren't enough — you'll need to learn about business and cultivate soft skills like presenting and teamwork, too.

Information security analyst

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree, such as an information systems security degree

Salary expectations: $102,600 annual median pay (May 2021)

Information security analysts plan and conduct security assessments at an organization. They monitor and investigate security breaches, test computer systems for vulnerabilities, and research current security threats. Information security analysts document their activities, reporting to managers and making recommendations about how to increase security. They may install and upgrade security software.

Multimedia programmer

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree

Salary expectations: $93,000 annual median pay (May 2021)

A multimedia programmer designs and creates applications integrating text, sound, pictures, and graphics. Multimedia programmers know multiple programming languages, including HTML, Java, VisualBasic, and CSS. They're familiar with multiple desktop and mobile operating systems, too. 

Software developer

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree

Salary expectations: $110,140 annual median pay (May 2020)

Software developers design and create software for computers and mobile devices. Software developers consider user needs, security, functionality, and overall performance in their work. Some code, but others instruct programmers through diagrams and models. They also test and upgrade software programs and systems. 

Software engineer

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree, such as a software engineering degree

Salary expectations: $88,540 average base salary (March 2022)

What is software engineering? Software engineers to design and develop software. They coordinate with programmers. They also determine how software will perform, prepare flowcharts for programmers, and make adjustments to improve efficiency and function. Software engineers test software, identify security needs, and update existing software.

Web developer

Minimum degree level required: Bachelor's degree

Salary expectations: $77,200 annual mean pay (May 2020)

Web developers create and maintain websites. As a web developer, you may incorporate graphics, audio, and video into your sites or work with a designer. Web developers write code using languages such as HTML and XML, understand website security, and consider accessibility and compatibility. Back-end developers are focused on data, modeling, and the back end of a website. Front-end developers help build what users interact with and see. Full-stack web developers are common and do both.

This article was reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

Monali Mirel Chuatico, a woman with long dark hair, smiles in a headshot.

In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico graduated with her bachelor's in computer science, which gave her the foundation that she needed to excel in roles such as a data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science instructor.

Monali is currently a data engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a nonprofit called COOP Careers, Monali helps new grads and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their professional development journey.

Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women, and educating youth. Monali's goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skill set, and do meaningful work that will positively impact the world.

Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network. 

Last reviewed April 21, 2022.

Unless otherwise noted, salary and job growth data were drawn from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2, 2022.

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