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Computer Engineer

Computer engineers design, implement, evaluate, modify, maintain, and test computer systems and related equipment.

Also Known As

Computer Hardware Engineer, Computer Specialist, Design Engineer, Engineer, Hardware Engineer, Information Technology Specialist, Professional Engineer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Computer and Telecommunications Hardware Engineers (2147.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Computer Engineers (Except Software Engineers) (C047) 
  • 2011 NOC: Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers) (2147) 
  • 2016 NOC: Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers) (2147) 
  • 2021 NOC: Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers) (21311) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Computer and Telecommunications Hardware Engineers

2006 NOC: 2147.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to design and develop system architecture and hardware specifications; and in analyzing user requirements

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to develop and conduct equipment performance evaluation programs and prototype bench tests of components

DIRECTIVE

Interest in supervising and inspecting the manufacturing, installation and implementation of computer and telecommunications hardware; may lead and co-ordinate teams of engineers, technologists, technicians and drafters

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Apr 06, 2022

Computer engineers specify, design, develop, and test computer hardware and the peripherals that support it. These include:

  • Central processing units (CPUs)
  • Graphics processing units (GPUs)
  • Computer memory / random access memory (RAM)
  • Support logic
  • Microprocessors
  • Custom integrated circuits
  • Field programmable gate arrays
  • Peripherals such as printers and disc drives

They may develop special purpose units for embedding computer technology in other consumer products, such as washing machine controls and automobile engines. This may require low- or high-level software design.

Computer engineers specify, design, develop, and test:

  • Computer networking hardware (such as network interface cards, routers, switches, and firewalls)
  • Large-scale computing systems (such as data centres)
  • High-performance computing systems (such as supercomputers)

They:

  • Analyze product and client needs
  • Develop design specifications such as performance expectations, suitable operating system environments, and materials
  • Assemble, adapt, interface, and test existing equipment for specific functions
  • Simulate and build prototypes (working models) including logic and digital circuit designs
  • Test and modify each prototype before it goes to production on a large scale

They also may:

  • Analyze user needs and suggest hardware
  • Analyze cost and get quotes from suppliers
  • Ensure compatibility with legacy operating systems and computing platforms
  • Plan and perform product validation and verification
  • Ensure compliance with regulations
  • Develop system specifications
  • Analyze operating problems and make changes
  • Determine system performance standards
  • Write product documents
  • Sell computer technology
  • Modify existing hardware and software to meet specific needs
  • Prepare proposals for software and hardware systems
  • File for patents associated with the technology they develop

Computer engineers must constantly update their knowledge and skills to keep up with rapid changes in their field. They often work as members of design teams that may include:

  • A project engineer, senior engineers, and software engineers
  • Technologists and technicians
  • Marketing and manufacturing specialists
Working Conditions
Updated Apr 06, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Computer engineers spend most of their time in an office or lab setting. They work with computers, test equipment, and document systems. They may work a lot of overtime and feel deadline pressure. They may need to climb, bend, and lift up to 20 kilograms.

Traits & Skills
Updated Apr 06, 2022

Computer engineers need:

  • Analytical skills
  • Speaking and writing skills
  • An inquiring and inventive mind
  • An eye for details
  • Patience and an organized approach to troubleshooting
  • Decision-making and problem-solving skills
  • Math and science skills
  • Teaching skills
  • Time-management skills

They should enjoy:

  • Being innovative
  • Working with others and on their own
  • Doing precision work

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)

2016 NOC: 2147

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 15 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 30, 2021 and Dec 06, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Assess, document and optimize the capacity and performance of information and communication system networks
Tasks: Research, evaluate and integrate network system and data communication hardware and software
Attention to detail
Personal Suitability: Accurate
Research, design, develop and integrate computer and telecommunications hardware
Assess, document and optimize the capacity and performance of information and communication system networks
Tasks: Research, design, develop and integrate computer and telecommunications hardware
Tasks: Research, design and develop information and communication system network architecture
Experience: 3 years to less than 5 years
Personal Suitability: Organized
Educational Requirements
Updated Apr 06, 2022
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

Computer engineers must have a 4-year degree in computer engineering or a related discipline such as electrical engineering. Some employers hire only those with a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Computer engineers most often need a doctoral degree for a career in teaching or research.



To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Apr 06, 2022
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Engineer

Professional engineers design, construct, evaluate, advise, monitor, and report on the performance of materials, equipment, systems, works, processes, and structures.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf] and Engineering and Geoscience Professions General Regulation [pdf], you must register as a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Engineer or engage in the practice of engineering.

You do not have to register if you work under the direct supervision of a professional engineer and do not call yourself a Professional Engineer or use the word “engineer” in your job title.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Engineer.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 06, 2022

Computer engineers work in almost any industry that involves computer use. These most often include:

  • Telecommunications and computer networks
  • Computer production
  • Consulting
  • Hardware research and development
  • Consumer electronics
  • Industrial instrumentation and process control
  • Government departments
  • Hospitals

Working for smaller organizations requires a broader range of skills. Duties with larger companies, on the other hand, may be more specialized.

With experience, computer engineers may start their own companies, move into marketing or other areas of engineering, or become supervisors or managers. Training or experience in business administration is an asset.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2147: Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers) occupational group, 77.0% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2147: Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers) occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Apr 06, 2022

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)

2016 NOC: 2147
Average Wage
$57.07
Per Hour
Average Salary
$113,073.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2147 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $28.85 $62.50 $43.63 $44.26
Overall $34.28 $65.17 $57.07 $62.50
Top $36.06 $79.33 $67.08 $72.67

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
Manufacturing
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
22%
22%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
13%
13%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
6%
6%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Computer and Information Technology
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Apr 06, 2022

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website: www.apega.ca

Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) of Alberta website: ab.cips.ca

Technology Alberta website: technologyalberta.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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