Online Computer Engineering
Degrees Explained

Getting an online degree in computer engineering is an excellent first step on the path to a rewarding career. Without leaving the comfort of your home, you can become an expert at designing computer-based hardware solutions, from smartphones to robots.

Some online computer engineering degrees are 100 percent online, while others combine online coursework with some in-person practical training. To see what will work best for you, all you have to do is compare the curriculum and syllabus with your schedule.

This guide covers the benefits of getting a computer engineering degree online, some of the best schools available for these online programs, and the most common curricula for computer engineering degrees.

Online Computer Engineering Degrees: An Overview

There are several degree levels for online computer engineering. You can get an online associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree. There are a few schools that allow PhD students to take some of their coursework online, but it isn’t very common in the United States.

Whichever degree level you’re thinking about pursuing, you’re probably wondering whether an online degree in computer engineering is a smart investment. In this article, we’ll look at tuition costs and payment options, and then we’ll explore the job outlook and salary prospects for those who graduate with one of these degrees.

But first, to help inform your decision, let’s take a closer look at the job market for computer engineers in the United States.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a two percent rise in job growth for computer hardware engineers between 2019 and 2029.
  • The two percent surge in job growth is two percent less than the projected growth across all occupations in the United States.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median computer hardware engineer earns $119,560 per year, with the top 10 percent earning more than $192,110 and the bottom 10 percent earning less than $70,100.
  • The median salary for all engineers is $96,310. This means that, on average, computer hardware engineers earn significantly more than other types of engineers.

What Is an Online Computer Engineering Degree?

An online computer engineering degree is any program that offers an extensive remote curriculum for prospective computer engineers. It allows students to learn from the comfort of their homes, during vacations, and in some cases, outside their country of residence.

Online schools that offer computer engineering degrees are not like traditional universities and colleges. Instead of learning in a physical classroom, students learn in a virtual classroom through video conferencing technology. Class materials are mostly in the form of online resources, and exams take place online.

At the end of the program, students receive an academic degree that is the equivalent of a degree from an in-person school. These online degrees have gained traction in recent years because they offer more flexibility than traditional degrees.

Online Computer Engineering Degree Curriculum

The curriculum for an online computer engineering degree is typically the same as a regular curriculum. However, if it is a fully online degree, you may not get any hands-on practice until you start an internship.

No two curricula are the same, but almost all of them include the following subjects.

Robotics Engineering

At the undergraduate level, you can expect to take an introductory course in robotics engineering. You might not take a deep dive, but you will learn the fundamentals of building robots to mimic human activity. You’ll get practice building machines for a range of industries, from food manufacturing to mining.

You can also switch disciplines if you have good grades. Students can get a Master of Science in Robotics Engineering after getting their Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering.

Applied Algorithms for Engineering

All Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Engineering offer courses on algorithms for engineering. You will learn the theoretical and practical applications of algorithms while working on your projects as a computer engineer.

You will also learn how algorithms are applied throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC), from planning through maintenance.

Computer Science and Software Engineering

Even if you are a computer engineering major, you will be expected to take a few courses in computer science. You will learn about the practical and theoretical applications of computers in today’s world. These courses primarily focus on computer software.

Software engineering is a core part of every computer engineering curriculum. It involves applying engineering methods in software development.

Online Computer Engineering Degree Types

As with traditional degrees, you can get different levels of computer engineering programs online. The most common options are associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees.

Computer Engineering Online Associate Degree

Many community colleges offer online Associate Degrees in Computer Engineering. The credit requirement for this degree is typically 60 credit hours. Some schools provide combined degrees. For example, you can get an Associate Degree in Information Technology and Computer Engineering.

With an online associate degree, you can secure an entry-level position as a network engineer, software engineer, or hardware engineer. You will get almost all the same jobs as someone with a bachelor’s degree. However, your salary will be in the entry-level range.

Two of the best online Associate Degrees in Computer Engineering are those offered by Grantham University and Moorpark College.

Computer Engineering Online Bachelor’s Degree

For a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering, you will need to spend four years studying. Those who already have associate degrees and transfer credits will only need two years to finish up their bachelor’s degree at an online university. The credit requirement is about 120 credit hours, but it could be a little higher depending on the school.

With an online bachelor’s degree, you will have more prospects in the job market compared to someone with an associate degree or no degree at all. For example, you can get a job as a computer engineer, database developer, hardware systems designer, among others.

The University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, and Florida International University are some of the top providers of online Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Engineering.

Computer Engineering Online Master’s Degree

An online Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering is even more common than an associate or bachelor’s degree. It allows you to specialize in certain areas of computer science to advance your career.

The credit requirement for an online Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering is about 30 credit hours, and you can complete the program in 12 to 24 months. After you graduate, you can work as a design engineer, computer network architect, web developer, and more. People with master’s degrees tend to earn a little more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

How to Get Into an Online Computer Engineering
Degree Program

To get into any online computer engineering program, you need a high school diploma and a solid track record in STEM subjects. Most schools accept a GED as well. The application and admissions process is likely to vary depending on the degree level, the type of school, and your previous educational background.

1

Community College Admissions

Getting into most community colleges in the United States is easy as long as you have the required documents. Most schools will ask for your high school transcript and you will be expected to have taken classes in math, chemistry, physics, and other core subjects. Your cumulative grade point average (GPA) from high school should not be less than 3.0.

If the school has open admissions, you’re virtually guaranteed to get in. However, some community colleges are more competitive than others, so make sure you check the admissions rate and the requirements of the college you want to attend.

2

University Admissions

Online universities are typically more difficult to enter than community colleges, but they may not be as difficult as in-person colleges. While the admissions requirements vary from university to university, you should at least have a high school diploma or GED and a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Some schools require a cumulative GPA as high as 4.0.

You will still need to pass core subjects like physics, chemistry, English, math, and so on. The more outstanding your transcript is, the more likely you are to gain admission into an online computer engineering program.

3

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate students need more than a high school diploma and a good cumulative GPA. Your GPA in subjects relevant to the graduate program also has to be impressive. Most universities ask for a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score that isn’t more than five years old. This exam is required for a majority of graduate schools.

Examples of undergraduate courses you need for a Master’s in Computer Engineering include Fundamental Analysis of Algorithms and Theory of Programming Languages. You should be able to get into a master’s program with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Information Technology.

Online Computer Engineering Degree Cost

The cost of attendance for online schools is typically lower than for in-person schools. Some schools that offer both online and in-person degrees may require less tuition for the online program. Even if it doesn’t, you will still save money on things like accommodation, transportation, and other expenses attached to traditional schooling.

The good news is that multiple payment options are almost always available. Below is a breakdown of the two most popular ways to defray the cost of an online program.

Scholarships

It’s not news that several governmental and non-governmental organizations support STEM disciplines. For example, some scholarships sponsor your entire education while some pay for half. Some others may simply give you the money to use at your discretion.

If you have an exceptional educational track record, you can apply for scholarships like the ASNT Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship and the Betty Stevens-Frecknall Scholarship. You can also get scholarships through the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation and the Banatao Family Filipino American Education Fund.

Student Loans

Without an excellent transcript, you’re more likely to get a student loan than a scholarship. Loan providers cover the cost of attendance while you study, and you will be required to pay back the loan in installments after you graduate. Keep in mind that these loans usually attract interest that accumulates with time.

The most popular option is federal financial aid. However, the best private student loan providers like Earnest, Ascent, and College Ave may be willing to fund your education if you have permanent residency in the United States.

Online College Accreditation

The online college you choose has to be accredited. Accreditation ensures that your education will hold weight in the job market. Schools are usually nationally or regionally accredited. In the case of computer engineering, the school’s engineering department should be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

National Accreditation

Three different bodies cover national accreditation in the United States. These are the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

A school is nationally accredited when it meets all the required standards of education. The degrees awarded by these schools are recognized nationally. However, these credits might not easily transfer from one institution to another. Therefore, this type of accreditation is ideal for schools that offer self-contained vocational and technical training.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the most common option in the United States for postsecondary schools. The credits for regionally accredited schools can easily be transferred across regions. All Ivy League schools, for example, are regionally accredited.

The six regional accreditation bodies are the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Computer Engineering
Job Prospects

According to the BLS, the projected job growth for computer hardware engineers between 2019 and 2029 is two percent, which is two percent below the national average. The number of jobs in 2019 was 71,100, and by 2029 this number is projected to increase to 72,200.

LinkedIn currently lists over 150,000 openings for jobs related to computer engineering. Companies are recruiting computer engineering degree holders as software engineers, computer scientists, machine learning engineers, data engineers, and other professions.

Being able to occupy different tech positions is one of the best parts of having a computer engineering degree. Moreover, the salaries that computer hardware engineers earn place them among the highest earners in the tech industry.

Computer Engineer Salary: $119,560
Computer Engineer Job Growth: 2%

Computer Engineering Degree Jobs

Having a degree in computer engineering doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work as a computer hardware engineer. There are plenty of other jobs for which this type of degree might qualify you. For example, with a master’s degree, you can aspire for a managerial role.

Some of the most popular job titles for people with computer engineering degrees are listed below. The cited salary figures come from PayScale, and the estimated size of each job sector is based on BLS statistics.

Hardware Design Engineer

Hardware design engineers design, create, and test the hardware components of various machines. This includes, but is not limited to, CPUs, monitors, and LED display screens.

These hardware designers often work in research-oriented roles. You could work for private companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon, or you could get a job with the government.

Hardware Design Engineer Salary: $89,212
Number of Computer Systems Design Jobs: 2,199,310

Software Engineer

Software engineers are in charge of systematically applying computer engineering principles in the development of software. Computer engineers and software engineers often collaborate during application development.

You have many job options as a software engineer. For example, you can work as an independent consultant or you can build your own groundbreaking software. Tech companies in the United States employ software engineers all the time.

Software Engineer Salary: $87,293
Number of Software Engineering Jobs: 1,469,200

Robotics Engineer

Robotics engineers assist project development teams in creating automated systems. In addition, they ensure that all robotic systems are designed according to the given specifications.

They often work in electronic component manufacturing or research and development. Late-career robotics engineers tend to take on more supervisory roles within automation teams.

Robotics Engineer Salary: $84,465
Number of Jobs in Electronic Component Manufacturing: 368,610

Top Computer Engineering Degree Careers

Title Median Salary Entry-Level Salary Mid-Career Salary Late-Career Salary
Hardware Design Engineer $89,212 $71,356 $101,973 $110,000
Software Engineer $87,293 $76,788 $95,953 $115,075
Robotics Engineer $84,465 $75,057 $93,700 $107,500
Systems Engineer $80,445 $72,373 $88,495 $122,220
Video Game Designer $66,152 $55,963 $77,397 $98,639

Computer Engineering Certifications

After you’ve gotten your education and gained some experience in computer engineering, you can improve your professional reputation with certifications. These professional certifications increase your skills and knowledge as a computer engineer.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

This is a popular certification among people with degrees related to computer science who want to specialize in security technologies. It has a three-year validity stamp and it proves that you know how to search for vulnerabilities and security breaches lawfully.

The certification exam costs $1,199, but you will be required to pay about $100 to access preparation resources. You will also have to pay $80 for renewal every year.

Citrix Certified Professional

This certification is good for information technology and computer engineering experts from all over the world. It has a series specifically for engineers, which is called Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer. It proves that you have the knowledge to implement Citrix systems.

The cost for professionals is $300, while the cost for associate-level professionals is $200. Veterans can get the cost of the examination reimbursed.

Computer Engineering Professional Organizations

Learning should not be limited to the education you get from the school. You should do your part to stay ahead while you’re in school and even after graduating. One of the best ways to do this is by joining a professional organization for computer engineers. The top three are listed below.

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

The Association for Computing Machinery has been around since 1947, and it is one of the largest professional associations for scientific computing professionals in the world. The headquarters of this association is in New York and it has over 100,000 members.

This association provides students and different types of tech professionals with exclusive learning resources. In addition, there are online classes, webinars, and other digital resources. The annual membership fee is $49 for students and $99 for professionals.

IEEE Computer Society

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEET) has a single goal: the advancement of technology. As a result, all its members get access to resources that help them improve their professional standing in their industry.

It doesn’t just stop with learning resources. IEEE provides networking opportunities for job seekers and offers scholarships to eligible students who want to upskill. For those in the computer society at IEEE, the annual membership fee is $60.

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

IET isn’t just meant for computer engineers. It is meant for engineers across industries. While the headquarters is in London, it is an international organization with over 168,000 members in 150 countries.

It has room for student members and professional members alike. In addition, there are resources for undergraduate students who are considering graduate school. There is also a professional development program to ease members’ transition into the workforce. The membership fee ranges from $70 to $274, depending on your level.

Benefits of Earning an Online Computer Engineering Degree

One of the most obvious benefits of getting an online computer engineering degree is that you don’t need to attend in-person classes. This flexibility will allow you to commit to other engagements while you study.

Online learning options require time management and self-motivation, among other skills. So, when you successfully complete an online degree in computer engineering, you will be proving to yourself that you are driven to succeed regardless of your situation.

Finally, the degree itself opens up many opportunities. You don’t need to limit yourself to computer hardware engineering. You can become a software engineer, a robotics specialist, or even a video game programmer. These are all in-demand fields in the tech industry.

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