Computer engineers take the results produced by computer scientists and
create a device or system that can be applied to real-world problems. Their
training combines courses from two fields: electrical engineering and computer
To be certified as a computer engineer, you'll need at least a four-year
If you don't want to spend that much time in school, there are plenty of
two-year community college programs that will train you to become a computer
engineering technologist. CE technologists assist computer engineers in their
At many universities, the CE program is offered under the heading of
"electrical and computer engineering." The two programs may share many
courses for the first two years, then branch out.
It's important to have a pretty good idea of what you would like to do
with computers, since there are now so many options for specialized study. Investigate
a school's program carefully to see if it offers what you want.
For example, one school may have three options within computer engineering
-- communications networks, software engineering and hardware engineering.
Other schools may offer robotics or artificial intelligence.
Check if a program offers a co-op option. Co-ops are work terms
that give you course credit and allow you to get hands-on training. Co-ops
are also paid, so it's a way to finance your education.
Cristina H. Amon is associate director of the Institute for Complex Engineered
Systems at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. She says students can
find work with a bachelor's, master's or PhD.
She adds that the amount of education will depend on a student's career
plans. Often, a graduate working in the field will decide to go back for a
more advanced degree to become eligible for more jobs. Her school also offers
an option to complete both a bachelor's and a master's degree in an accelerated
You'll need a good foundation in science and math. Take physics, chemistry,
calculus, geometry and biology.
It's essential for engineers to be good communicators, too, so English
skills can't be overlooked.
Occupational Outlook HandbookFor more information related to this field of study, see: Computer
Systems Analysts, Database Administrators and Computer Scientists
Electrical and Computer Engineering Resources GuideTools and educational resources
Learning NetworkGet the basics on how computers work
Computers 4 KidsAll about computer history, modems and more
Want a quick overview of what this program is about? Check out Just the Facts for
a simple description.