Four out of every 10 IT firms in the U.S. are actively hiring right now, and 110,000 new jobs were added to the IT industry last year, according to CompTIA. This is great news: Even if you are new to the field, with the proper training and persistence you will be the right fit for plenty of entry-level IT job opportunities.
Those 110,000 new jobs most likely fall within the spectrum of computer science and computer engineering. Computer science focuses on using information systems theory, architecture, algorithms, and programming languages to build software applications. Computer engineering is the fusion of computer science and electrical engineering. It has more of a computer hardware focus, and computer engineers design and build computing components like microprocessors, circuit boards, and routers that software systems run on.
These two expansive disciplines combine to make up the majority of job functions in the information technology field. In this post, we will talk about the variety of possible job functions and average salaries for the following IT categories:
- Computer Engineering and Hardware Design
- Software Engineering
- Web Design
Computer Engineering and Hardware Design Jobs
Hardware engineers research, design, and develop computer components and build network systems for software. Because the hardware needs to support the software’s specific performance objectives, hardware engineers may work closely with software engineers during development or at least collaborate on project requirements.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some entry-level computer hardware engineering positions require a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, electrical engineering, or computer science--and because hardware engineering requires a very different skill set than does software engineering, the coding bootcamps that can save you money on a CS degree by teaching you to program can’t replace a computer or electrical engineering degree because bootcamps don’t usually teach those hardware engineering skills.
So a bachelor’s degree in computer or electrical engineering is often a prerequisite--but that’s not where the training ends. Once they’ve transitioning into the workforce, hardware engineers will need to continue their professional development in order to stay on top of of the latest developments in the field.
Here are some job titles that fall under the category of computer engineering and hardware design.
Computer hardware engineers build components and networks to achieve specific performance objectives. They must research, design, build, and test hardware. Many are also tasked with overseeing or arranging the manufacturing process. From mobile phones to vehicles, every device with electrical components relies on hardware engineers to put it all together.
Computer Network Architects
Build communication networks including local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets. Networks could be just to connect business offices or could be cloud-based infrastructure used by thousands of customers. Architects are responsible for all hardware-related aspects of the network, as well as information security.
Design, plan, and assemble different types of robots. Engineers must determine exactly what a given robot will do and how to configure the machine. Robots could be for manufacturing purposes, healthcare applications, or anything in between.
Software Engineering Jobs
All of that hardware would be a useless pile of electrical components without software, which is why there are over 1 million people employed as software engineers in the U.S. And the types of software engineering jobs out there are as numerous as the platforms and devices they run on.
Within the field of software engineering, there are two main paths: Software engineering itself and software development. Software engineers are responsible for researching, designing, and planning the development of entire systems. Software developers are responsible only for programming parts of the system. The role of software engineer includes software development projects, but the reverse is not the case: Software developers are not required to do any software engineering.
To make things even more complex, within the category of software engineering itself, there are two main subsets of roles--applications developers and systems developers.
Applications developers build software for operating systems like iOS, Linux, Android, Windows. These developers focus on building applications directly for the end-user. Systems developers, on the other hand, build the operating systems and networks to power the applications. Because of the back-end nature of their development tasks, systems developers are likely to work closely with hardware engineers.
Here are some jobs that involve software engineering.
Responsible for configuring the server and database to deliver information and execute the actions of the application. Knowledge of server-side programming languages and environments like Node.js, Python, PHP, Ruby, and Java required.
Quality Assurance Engineer
A test engineer oversees every aspect of the software development process and performs both manual and automated testing of the product to catch bugs before the software is shipped.
A full-stack developer generally has years of experience and is proficient in both front-end and back-end development. They should be up-to-date on language updates like HTML5 and CSS3, and possess some more specialized programming skills like knowledge of Drupal, Laravel, Scala, SQL, machine learning, or blockchain development. Full-stack developers are often senior developers that oversee code reviews and DevOps.
These are just four job categories of software engineers, but it’s not an exhaustive list. Often, software developers will focus on just one area of software engineering like mobile application development or web development, and the possibilities are endless.
Web Designer Jobs
Web design is sometimes confused with front-end development because both roles are involved with bringing user experience to life. However, most web designers are not required to have programming skills. Web designers use tools like Photoshop and Sketch to build graphics that comprise the user interface for various mobile apps, web pages, content management systems, WordPress sites, and internal business applications. Designers are responsible for the font, styling, layout, and color schemes of the application, which are often demonstrated in mock-up user flows and wireframes. Along with front-end web development teams, web designers often share the responsibility of making sure applications display well across browsers and devices.
Here are some jobs in the domain of web design.
User Experience Designer
According to Adobe, the responsibilities of a UX designer include product research, creating user personas, designing the information architecture, creating wireframes, prototyping, and testing of products.
A visual designer works across teams and meets with clients to develop and enforce a style guide for products and build brand identity. These designers often present guides, layouts, and concepts to senior management and train new design staff.
This is a more entry-level design position that may require designing of logos, product packaging, print materials, and website content. Designers use colors, fonts, illustrations, and layouts to convey brand messaging.
Junior web designers (including graphic designers) are often organized under the UI/UX design team umbrella, so it’s not surprising that once they’ve built up design experience, many go on to be senior web designers in charge of the entire UI/UX design process.
Tech Hubs and Companies That Are Hiring
Some large tech companies (and non-tech companies!) employ hundreds of hardware engineers, software engineers, and designers of all kinds. We used Glassdoor data to find some of the top companies operating in tech centers around the country.
Silicon Valley, California
(comprised of the San Francisco Bay Area: Sunnyvale, San Jose, Mountain View, and Palo Alto)
New York Metro Area
– Booz Allen Hamilton
Ready to Work in IT?
Working in IT can provide both a stimulating work environment and comfortable compensation. In this article, we have only scratched the surface of the hundreds of different job types in the IT field. To pin down your specific interest, we encourage you to do more of your own research and experiment with IT classes and workshops.
Regardless of your educational or professional background, it’s never too late (or too early), to explore new interests and develop professional IT skills for your next job.
Interested in opportunities to pick up some software development skills? Check out the remote immersive classes offered at Fullstack Academy!