Computer hardware engineer
Computer & Systems Management

Computer hardware engineers work on the design, development and manufacture of computer hardware. They may specialise in areas such as communications, control systems, robotics, microprocessors or semi-conductor devices. They take into account efficiency, safety and environmental factors.

Work Activities

Computer hardware engineers research, design and develop the latest computer hardware technology.

They work on the computer itself, as well as related equipment such as disc drives, printers and monitors.

Some computer hardware engineers specialise in the research and design stages. They think carefully about the types and cost of materials that'll be used to make the hardware. Many hardware engineers deal with a specific area of the hardware rather than the whole system.

They may also work with marketing teams to identify trends and requirements for new or improved technology.

In other cases, the process may begin with a computer analyst providing a specification for a computer system to meet a particular need.

A team of designers may work on the initial design and produce detailed specifications. They translate the ideas into detailed drawings and circuit diagrams. Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) are used in this type of work.

A team of computer hardware engineers takes the design, then builds a prototype. They put together the hardware parts and build the necessary interfacing equipment.

They test the prototype to make sure it meets the specification requirements; they carry out any necessary changes to the design.

They might also write technical support materials and provide expert technical support for product users.

Computer hardware engineers are likely to work in teams, for example, alongside materials scientists, electronics engineers, systems analysts and software engineers.

Personal Qualities and Skills

  • Strong technical knowledge of computers and electronic systems.
  • To keep up to date with new technical developments.
  • A flair for turning system requirements into detailed designs.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail.
  • To be able to work to deadlines and budgets; you may also need to consider the cost and availability of parts.
  • To be able to work as part of multi-disciplinary teams.
  • To use your initiative.
  • Strong communication skills, particularly when explaining technical information to people from non-technical backgrounds.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of computer hardware engineers

Employers are computer manufacturers, electronics companies, retailers and distributors of computers, information technology consultants and software or systems houses.

Opportunities for computer hardware engineers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Some engineers choose to become self-employed or take contract work on a freelance basis.


Entry requirements for degrees vary so it is important to check with individual universities.

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