A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.
Pursuing a bachelor's degree in computer engineering requires a high level of academic commitment. A computer engineering major is similar to that of electrical engineering but with a heavy emphasis on computer science.1 Computer engineering classes cover how to design, build, and fix complex equipment, systems, and processes, and students who wish to excel in a given program generally spend many hours studying mathematical and computer hardware- and software-related concepts. If you’re trying to decide whether to become a computer engineering major, knowing what to expect in college-level engineering classes and what you can do with a computer engineering degree may help you make a more informed decision.
An Emphasis on Practical Skills
Computer engineers tend to possess strong analytical, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.1 Even though students drawn to bachelor’s degree in computer engineering programs may inherently possess these traits, development and refinement of these skills is necessary in order to successfully complete engineering classes. After all, computer engineers are often called to design and test computer hardware, analyze test results, modify the designs as needed, and update existing equipment to work with the new software.1 Engineering majors will also find that their curriculum includes courses on communication and teamwork, and that’s because these “soft skills” are essential to working effectively in the real world. If you’re willing to dedicate yourself to developing these practical skills, then you might be a good candidate for a bachelor’s in computer engineering program.
An Intense Time Commitment
Whether you’re taking traditional or online engineering courses, you should expect a rigorous curriculum that includes time-intensive projects and increasingly advanced engineering coursework. At Colorado Technical University, most students earn their bachelor’s degree in engineering in about four years. However, the time you’ll need to complete an engineering degree program depends on a number of factors, including the total number of required credit-hours, how many courses you complete each quarter, whether you’re able to transfer-in college credits from another institution, etc.
Accreditation and Licensure
Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering program at the CTU Colorado Springs campus is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org. Many engineering programs are accredited by ABET, and employers may exhibit a preference for job candidates who have graduated from an accredited program.1
Although a Professional Engineering (PE) license may be required by certain engineering fields, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not list licensure as a requirement for pursuing computer hardware engineering careers. However, for those interested in becoming a Professional Engineer (PE) so that they can one day oversee and sign off on projects or provide services directly to the public, state licensure typically means: (1) graduating from an ABET-accredited program, (2) passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, (3) possessing at least four years of relevant work experience, and (4) passing the PE exam.2 Each state issues its own licenses, and some require engineers to take continuing education courses in order to retain their licenses.
Potential Career Paths for Engineering Majors4,5
In terms of what you can do with an engineering degree after you graduate, there are a number of fields you might explore in addition to computer hardware engineering, and most of these career paths require at least a bachelor’s degree. The following are just a few examples:
- Computer science and engineering majors (CSE majors) might choose to pursue a career in applications or systems software development. Software developers (applications) develop, create, and modify general computer applications software or specialized utility programs, and some may supervise computer programmers. They analyze user needs and may also analyze and design databases within an application area, developing software solutions with an eye toward optimizing operational efficiency.4
- Software developers (systems software) research, design, develop, and test operating systems-level software, compilers, and network distribution software for medical, industrial, military, communications, aerospace, business, scientific, and general computing applications. They determine operational specs, formulate and analyze software requirements, and some may design embedded systems software. Professionals in this field apply the principles and techniques of computer science, engineering, and mathematical analysis.4
- The knowledge and skills you gain from a computer engineering program might help you prepare to pursue a career in telecommunications engineering. Telecommunications engineers design or configure voice, video, and data communications systems, and may also supervise installation and post-installation service and maintenance.5
Choosing Your Program
As you reflect on whether a major in computer engineering is the right academic path forward for you, take time to familiarize yourself with the computer engineering degree requirements at any schools you’re interested in since admission and program requirements vary by school. You should also research whether these programs are accredited by ABET since non-accredited engineering programs may not be viewed as favorably by future employers.
Colorado Technical University offers on-campus degree programs in computer engineering and electrical engineering as well as on-campus and online computer science degree program options at the bachelor’s level. For those interested in continuing their academic journey, we also offer graduate programs in engineering and computer science.Learn more about CTU’s engineering and computer science programs.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer Hardware Engineers,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/computer-hardware-engineers.htm (last visited 2/24/2020).
2. Colorado Technical University does not guarantee third-party certifications. Certification requirements for taking and passing certification examinations are not controlled by Colorado Technical University but by outside agencies and are subject to change by the agencies without notice to Colorado Technical University. Therefore, Colorado Technical University cannot guarantee that graduates will be eligible to take certification examinations, regardless of their eligibility status upon enrollment.
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Civil Engineers,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/civil-engineers.htm#tab-4 (last visited 2/24/2020).
4. CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. The list of career paths related to this program is based on a subset from the Bureau of Labor Statistics CIP to SOC Crosswalk. Some career paths listed may require further education or job experience. See https://www.onetonline.org/crosswalk/CIP?s=14.0901&g=Go and https://www.onetonline.org/crosswalk/CIP?s=11.0701&g=Go (last visited 3/9/2020).
5. CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. The list of career paths related to this program is based on a subset from the Bureau of Labor Statistics CIP to SOC Crosswalk. Some career paths listed may require further education or job experience. See https://www.onetonline.org/crosswalk/CIP?s=14.0901&g=Go (last visited 3/9/2020).
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