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Learn computer engineering online

In a world that is constantly being transformed by new technology, a career in computer engineering can be an exciting prospect. Learners interested in this field can take online computer engineering programs and courses to build their skills.

What is computer engineering?

Computer engineering combines the fields of electrical engineering and computer science. A computer engineer is involved in both the design of computer architecture and the design of hardware and software. Working in this field involves learning programming languages, data structures, and artificial intelligence concepts.

When it comes to computer engineering versus computer science, people may wonder about the differences between the disciplines. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are separate fields that focus on different aspects of computer technology.1 Both computer science and computer engineering require an understanding of computer and information systems, as well as foundational skills such as coding and software testing. However, computer engineering jobs tend to focus on computer design and development, whereas careers in computer science can emphasize computing theory.

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Courses and certifications for computer engineering

Computer engineering courses are designed to teach learners how to problem-solve and build innovative solutions to some of the world's most significant challenges. Building a career in computer engineering requires a solid foundation in hardware, software, operating systems, computer architecture, electrical engineering, and a variety of subdisciplines. Computer engineers need a thorough understanding of computer systems to make sure the physical and virtual systems integrate seamlessly. 

Courses in computer engineering required for a career may focus on a range of disciplines including but not limited to: 

  • Learning both the fundamentals and advanced skills needed for software engineering.

  • Building skills in operating systems and computer architecture, such as circuits and electronics.

  • Learning engineering foundations.

  • Understanding cybersecurity basics. 

Online computer engineering tutorial programs may also teach programming languages, including Java and C programming. And those interested in the world of nanotech can learn about the fundamentals of microfabrication and nanofabrication. 

Computer engineering careers

Computer engineering jobs may require a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in computer programming, information technology, digital systems, or similar disciplines.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for computer engineering jobs stems from greater emphasis on cloud computing, information security, and the collection and storage of big data.2 How much does a computer engineer make? The typical computer engineering salary can vary depending on the specific job, employer, geographic location, and experience.

Examples of computer engineering jobs or related positions in computing and information technology (IT) include: 

Computer and information research scientists. Computer and information research scientists create and improve computer software and hardware. Working with algorithms, they solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine, and other fields.3

Software developers. Software developers create computer applications that meet users’ needs. They often identify core functionalities, work with programmers who write computer code to design the program, and test the software to consider security issues.4

Computer hardware engineers. Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components. They often work in research laboratories, and many are employed by companies focused on computer systems design or manufacturing.5

How to become a computer engineer

There are many different jobs in the computer engineering industry and there is no single path on how to become a computer engineer. The path that makes the most sense can depend on the particular learner’s goals. Here are some general steps to a career in this profession.  

Pursue relevant education. For some jobs in the field of computer and information technology, an advanced degree may not be required, while others may require a master’s degree or higher. Certain jobs may also specifically request applicants with a computer engineering degree. 

Computer user support specialist jobs, for example, require some computer knowledge but not necessarily a college degree. Some positions may ask for at least an associate degree, while large software companies providing support to business users might require a bachelor’s degree.6 edX offers a number of online bachelor’s in computer and data science degree programs. 

On the other hand, computer and information research scientists may need a master’s degree in computer science or a related field, such as computer engineering.7 Explore online master of data science programs here

Gain work experience. Some positions within computer engineering require on-the-job experience. For example, network architects typically need to have at least five years of experience working with IT systems, according to the BLS.8 They often have experience as a network and computer system administrator or other computer-related occupations such as a database administrator or computer systems analyst.

Earn certifications. Depending on the specific job, professionals may need certain certifications. Many employers hire information security analysts who have professional certifications.9 Employers hiring computer support specialists may require these employees to hold certifications in the products of the companies that they use. Other types of certifications, such as CompTIA A+, may be a helpful starting point for entry-level workers.

Learn to code. For many roles within computer engineering, knowledge of coding or computer programming is helpful. Although writing code is not a software developer’s primary responsibility, a strong background in computer programming and staying up to date on new tools and computer languages can be important aspects of their career.10