Computer Electronics Engineering Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in computer electronics engineering? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and computer electronics engineering training programs.
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Studying Computer Electronics Engineering: Degrees at a Glance

Computer electronics engineering fuses engineering principles with applied computer and digital electronics. Computer electronics engineers research materials, develop electronic control systems and operate computers and other digital devices. Employers seek candidates who can solve engineering problems through strong analytical and critical thinking skills.

Colleges and universities offer mathematics and science-based programs that emphasize modern engineering practices, computer programming and digital electronics. The associate's degree program can prepare you for a career in technical support within multiple industries. The bachelor's degree program offers the knowledge necessary to pursue engineering or management occupations. Selecting an ABET-accredited program plays a significant role in receiving employment offers and can have an effect on your ability to achieve licensing.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected little or slow job growth for a few careers; electrical and electronic engineering technician jobs would grow 2% and electrical and electronics engineer opportunities 6% over the 2010-2020 decade.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in entry-level technician or support opportunities People who want to pursue a career in electronics or computer hardware engineering or management
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Computer support specialist ($48,000)*
- Electrical and electronic engineering technician ($57,000)*
- Electrical or electronics engineer ($61,000)**
- Computer hardware engineer ($99,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits
- Capstone project (if applicable)
- Roughly 120 credits
- Capstone project (if applicable)
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Limited

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (August 2012 figures).

Associate's in Computer Electronics Engineering

The associate's degree program offers basic education in the fundamentals of engineering practices, digital and analog electronics, circuitry and computer programming. You will learn to interpret engineering drawings, perform maintenance and troubleshoot digital systems. Some programs offer electro-mechanical, information technology support or instrumentation control concentrations. The associate's program takes a science and mathematics approach; you should possess a strong foundation in computers and mathematics prior to enrollment.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Positions available to holders of an associate's degree paid relatively competitive salaries; electrical and electronics engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of about $57,000*
  • The practical approach to coursework provides a hands-on education you can apply when you enter the workforce
  • Many programs transfer to a bachelor's degree program

Cons

  • Slow job growth will affect several careers in the field, even at the bachelor's degree level
  • Programs that are not accredited by ABET can lead to difficulties in achieving certification or licensing
  • Pursuing certification will lengthen the time you train and require a lifelong commitment to continuing education

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Common Courses and Requirements

Associate's computer electronics engineering programs combine basic knowledge of electronic, electrical and computer technology. Some programs require substantial work in a laboratory; hands-on training in circuitry and digital electronics requires a practical approach. Schools design programs to offer roughly 60 credits of coursework in technology essentials and elective course. A capstone project may round out your education and require that you apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a collaborative or individual project. Following are some common courses offered by the program:

  • Networking systems
  • Electronic circuits
  • Electronic switching systems
  • Technical support essentials
  • AC/DC circuit fundamentals
  • Engineering ethics
  • Computer programming

Online Degree Options

The online associate's program offers many of the courses provided by campus-based colleges. You should possess basic computer skills, including copying files, installing programs and using productivity software prior to enrollment; you may take developmental courses during your first semester. Schools design programs to meet the needs of working professionals or people seeking advancement; accelerated online programs are common. Keep in mind that selecting an online program accredited by ABET can influence your employment; some industry organizations require ABET-accredited degrees to achieve certification.

Stand Out with This Degree

Selecting the appropriate industry and seeking certification can influence employment prospects. The BLS projected high demand for electrical and electronic engineering technicians in the computer systems design services industry. Following are a few steps you can take to influence your marketability:

  • Seek an internship in the computer design services industry. Internships provide practical experience, which many employers may prefer.
  • Pursue computer support or networking certifications. The CompTIA A+ or Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing & Switching certifications validate your skills in preventative maintenance and the installation of computers and network technologies.

Bachelor's in Computer Electronics Engineering

The bachelor's degree program requires a strong foundation in mathematics and physics. Many universities design a combination of practice and conceptual coursework. You will learn to apply the theories of computer electronics engineering in a large number of laboratory courses. Programs offer training in the use of computer modeling software and design techniques to develop electronic pulse circuits, electronic devices and programmable logic controllers. In addition, you will approach computer systems and industrial supervision from a management perspective.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Computer hardware engineers earned competitive salaries
  • Employers are looking for candidates with higher education for management career tracks
  • The program provides the education required to pursue careers in engineering across multiple industries

Cons

  • Computer hardware engineers can expect only 9% job growth over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Associate's degree holders earned salaries comparable to positions available with a bachelor's degree
  • Online programs are limited and can take an extended period to complete
  • Some positions may require a graduate degree

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 job growth projections).

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program combines technical knowledge with management skills. Programs provide the foundation required to pursue engineering opportunities or start a career path toward administration and project management. You will learn industrial organization and electronics engineering concepts through roughly 120 credits in core and elective coursework. Some programs offer a minor in mathematics, business or computer science. Some common courses include digital computer logic, computer-aided design, industrial functions and organization, programming in C, computer design and prototyping, integrated circuit engineering and power electronics.

Online Degree Options

There are very few online degree options computer electronics engineering; schools may offer electronics technology or electrical engineering options. Some schools provide an electronics technology option that delivers courses in microprocessor systems, computer network or communication systems. Keep in mind that an online program may require a transferable associate's degree in a related discipline. In addition, some electrical engineering programs take 6 or more years to complete.

Stand Out with This Degree

Accreditation plays an important role in selecting the appropriate program and obtaining employment. The BLS reported that candidates who graduate from an ABET-accredited program enjoy the best job prospects for computer hardware engineering opportunities. If you plan to pursue a career in computer hardware engineering, consider taking courses in computer software to boost your job prospects. Obtaining licensing can also influence employment decisions if you work with companies that service government contracts. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying administers the Fundamentals of Engineering examination, which is the first step to qualifying for the Professional Engineer's license.

Other Degrees to Consider

The BLS revealed slower than average job growth for multiple occupations in the electronics engineering industry. If you enjoy working with computers, consider pursuing a bachelor's degree in software engineering. Software developers could expect 30% job growth over the 2010-2020 decade. Systems software developers earned a mean annual salary of about $100,000, while applications software developers earned around $92,000. Software developers and engineers work closely with computer hardware engineers to improve systems or develop new ones.

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