Computer Engineers (Except Software Engineers and Designers) - What They Do

Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers) research, plan, design, develop, modify, evaluate and integrate computer and telecommunications hardware and related equipment, and information and communication system networks including mainframe systems, local and wide area networks, fibre-optic networks, wireless communication networks, intranets, the Internet and other data communications systems. They are employed by computer and telecommunication hardware manufacturers, by engineering, manufacturing and telecommunications firms, in information technology consulting firms, by governmental, educational and research institutions and in information technology units throughout the private and public sectors.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Computer and telecommunications hardware engineers
  • Analyze user requirements, and design and develop system architecture and specifications
  • Research, design, develop and integrate computer and telecommunications hardware such as microprocessors, integrated circuit boards and semiconductor lasers
  • Develop and conduct design verification simulations and prototype bench tests of components
  • Supervise, inspect and provide design support during the manufacturing, installation and implementation of computer and telecommunications hardware
  • Establish and maintain relationships with suppliers and clients
  • May lead and co-ordinate teams of engineers, technologists, technicians and drafters in the design and development of computer and telecommunications hardware.
  • Computer engineers may specialize in a number of areas including analog and digital signal processing, fibre optics, integrated circuits, lasers, microprocessors, microwaves and radio astronomy.
  • Network system and data communication engineers
  • Research, design and develop information and communication system network architecture
  • Research, evaluate and integrate network system and data communication hardware and software
  • Assess, document and optimize the capacity and performance of information and communication system networks
  • May lead and co-ordinate teams of design professionals in the development and integration of information and communication system architecture, hardware and software.

Job titles

  • computer hardware engineer
  • fibre-optic network designer
  • hardware circuit board designer
  • network test engineer
  • systems designer - hardware
  • wireless communications network engineer
  • telecommunications hardware engineer
  • hardware development engineer
  • hardware technical architect
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Computer engineers require a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, electrical or electronics engineering, engineering physics or computer science.
  • A master's or doctoral degree in a related engineering discipline may be required.
  • Licensing by a provincial or territorial association of professional engineers is required to approve engineering drawings and reports and to practise as a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.).
  • Engineers are eligible for registration following graduation from an accredited educational program, three or four years of supervised work experience in engineering and passing a professional practice examination.

Essential Skills

Working with Technological Equipment and Machinery

  • Debugging and Reprogramming Technical Systems
  • Installing and Setting-Up Technical Infrastructure


  • Co-ordinating and Organizing
  • Supervising


  • Planning
  • Analyzing Information
  • Researching and Investigating


  • Liaising and Networking
  • Professional Communicating

Information Handling

  • Managing Information

Creative Expression

  • Designing