Engineering is already a very technical field in itself, and computer engineering is even more so. Like almost every other branch of engineering available in universities today, computer engineering prepares you for a very specific set of jobs within the computer niche. Although other fields – even ones outside engineering – can be explored, it’s jobs related to computer hardware that are easiest to get for computer engineering graduates.
What Can Computer Engineers Do?
Because computer engineers are trained primarily with the hardware aspect of computers – computer scientists would be their counterparts on the software side – a career in the technical, research or development fields is most likely. Jobs elsewhere, such as in the corporate field, are possible but difficult and complicated to get, especially for new grads.
The most lucrative jobs often lie in the manufacturing industry, especially in the research and development departments of tech companies. Computer engineers in such positions are paid very well to improve existing products and create new ones from scratch. Wages go even higher once an engineer has an invention or innovation under his or her name, especially ones with high marketability.
Jobs in the service sector are also available – and very accessible – to new graduates of computer engineering courses. Aside from plying skills in computer maintenance, grads can also turn to technical support positions with practically any company that deals with computers or electronics. Considering the sheer prevalence and ubiquity of computers and electronic devices today, there’s a great number of jobs out there even for fresh grads.
Computer Engineer Earnings Outlook
Graduates of computer engineering courses have skills in a very technical and specialized field, which is why competition isn’t as great as in other areas. Jobs can thus be had, even locally and under the present less-than-ideal economic situation.
Most available and easiest to get are positions with business process outsource (BPO) or call center companies. Computer engineers, however, can get higher positions (and more pay) than the usual customer service representatives. Instead of the latter’s PhP12,000 to PhP15,000 average starting pay, even fresh graduates can expect wages starting at around PhP18,000 to PhP25,000 as technical support on more complicated calls. On top of that, technical support agents at most companies take less calls than other agents on average.
For those who want a more hands-on career, jobs can also be found with any one of the numerous computer companies that have offices in the Philippines. That could range from the very visible ones like Asus and Dell to less mainstream options like Oracle and Sun Microsystems. Their visibility (or lack thereof), however, is rarely an indicator for income; engineers at Oracle and Sun report higher than average salaries as well.
Work abroad would only be available to computer engineers who either graduated with honors or have some other stellar qualification (i.e. an invention or award-winning research) that would merit a second look from employers. Employers abroad, especially in North America, also tend to look for original, out-of-the-box thinking on top of good grades from school.
Those who are able to break into the North American job market, however, will be well paid for their efforts. Forbes magazine named computer engineering as one of the most lucrative college degrees in 2008, with the average American computer engineer making between $85k and $90k a year. In some areas like tech-loving California, the average computer engineer’s annual salary clocked in at a six-digit figure.