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What does a Computer Engineer do?

Are you the guy that spends time inventing better ways to get things done? Do you have superior math skills and creative problem solving abilities? Are you analytically minded? Are you a people person, capable of managing others? Do you want, or already have computer programming skills? If the answers to these questions are a definite yes, you are a good candidate for becoming a computer engineer.

computer engineer

People that become computer engineers normally specialize in a niche of programming, such as in robotics, operating systems, architecture or a combination of these, such as programming and architecture. The field is multi-layered and there are many different options available for computer engineers to explore.

Computer engineering degrees can be obtained at the associate, bachelor. masters and Phd levels. Post graduate certification is recommended. Obtaining gainful employment after obtaining an associates degree in computer engineering is highly unlikely. The most recommended path is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, or other related computer science field and work at an internship, either while attending college, or after graduation.

The field of computer engineering is complex, and offers many different areas of study. Some areas of study include: software engineering, hardware engineering, network engineering and computer engineering technologies. These areas offer aspiring engineers a plethora of fields to work in. Whether you want to work on computer circuitry to create the most powerful handheld computer in existence, or software that integrates programs to make complex computing easier, you can find a degree program to fulfill your career aspirations.

The world of computer engineering is all around us. Automatic doors, smart phones, parking assistance in automobiles, optometric exam equipment, factory lines; all of these have been engineered. The field is so vast it’s expected to experience growth of 32% in the coming years.

What does a Computer Programmer do?

Computer Programming as a Career

Computer programming has come a long way since the days of binary basic code. There are many computer languages, and all require a different skill set. They all have one thing in common, a need for a masterful set of math skills and a creative mind. An eye for detail is also important, as coding requires very specific syntax.

computer programmer

There are a variety of coding languages. Programmers often develop on Linux, it is considered a programmer’s platform. Two important programming languages include C++ and Python. Both languages execute very specific tasks unique to their coding.

As with many industries, companies are sending jobs overseas and computer programming is no exception. The industry is expected to experience a 3% decrease in job availability according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Computer Programmer’s Lifestyle

Some employers stress production and push their programmers to produce more, faster and with a 100% accuracy rate. You may need to put in long hours, including nights and weekends while on salary, meaning no overtime pay. Some do thrive on this type of stress. A post graduate degree affords the programmer more flexibility. These computer programmers may write their own ticket for very specialized skills. Finding the right working conditions as a programmer may take several tries. Some experienced computer programmers even end up working primarily from home.

Computer Programmer Common Qualities

The ideal computer programmer qualities include these traits: patience, logic, superior math skills, an almost obsessive attention to detail, patience, a creative knack for design elements and style, and an ability to be precise. Coding can sometimes be monotonous as you comb through thousands of lines, trying to find the one element that is incorrect while debugging. Being able to stay focused and not get distracted is important. Writing code with the anticipation of future changes is a tremendous asset.

Educational Requirements

Degree requirements are generally a bachelors or masters degree in computer science or a related field with programming skills. Significant course topics typically include:

  • Introduction to Commands
  • Defining Commands
  • Iteration
  • Animation
  • Procedure Inputs
  • Pixel Graphics
  • Defining Operators
  • Hierarchy

What does a Computer Scientist do?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines a computer scientist as “a research scientist who invents and designs innovative approaches to computer and computational technology while finding original uses for existing technology.” In addition, computer scientists also examine and unravel answers to complex problems involving computational algorithms and equations for science, medicine, business and other relevant industries.

computer scientist

Computer scientists excel in developing algorithms rather than programs. Although they are proficient in writing and deciphering programming languages, computer scientists focus more on the theoretical aspects of computer systems in contrast to what computer engineers study, i.e. computer hardware operations. Specific areas of research pursued by computer scientists include data structure development, database theory, numerical analysis, computer vision and programming language theory.

Computer scientists work in numerous fields where computer algorithms and software programs are necessary to facilitate daily operations. The goal of computer scientists employed in fields as diverse as robotics, shale mining, bioinformatics or government security is to create and validate mathematical models for determining computer-based system properties involving processors, human-computer interaction, computer-computer interaction and finding ways to improve the performance of any computer system.

Education Requirements for Computer Scientists

The minimum degree requirement for a computer scientist is a Bachelor of Science, although most pursue higher degrees such as Master’s and Ph.Ds. Obtaining a four year, B.S. in computer science takes four years, while earning an M.S. takes six to seven years. Computer science doctorate degrees may require students devote another two or three years of research and work experience following completion of their master’s degree before obtaining a Ph.D.

Computer scientists typically excel at mathematics, abstract thinking and have exceptional problem-solving skills. Math courses comprising a computer science degree program include trigonometry, linear algebra, differential equations, abstract algebra, numerical methods, graph theory and combinatorics. Additional elective classes involve computation structures, programming methodology, principles of quantitative analysis, dynamics of nonlinear systems and programming compilers and languages. Depending on whether a student wants to work as a computer science professional or remain in academia and teach computer science at a university will influence the direction of course electives the student chooses to take.