You can boost your resume with hardware engineering skills.
Hardware engineers design and develop computer systems and their physical components that we rely on every day for communication, work, and entertainment. They possess a specialized set of skills that require a high level of education, often with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in computer science or electrical engineering.
What do hardware engineers do?
Hardware engineers research, design, and develop physical hardware like processors and circuit boards for computers, smartphones, gaming consoles, and more. They create prototypes to test ideas, analyze data, and make necessary changes before final production.
Hardware and software engineers work closely together on complete system design. When software updates with new requirements, modifying or updating existing hardware components for functionality and efficiency falls on the lap of a hardware engineer.
Why does hardware development matter?
Hardware development is essential for our devices and technology to exist. Hardware developers design, prototype, test, and deliver a final version of a product.
Technology is improving day by day, and hardware innovation almost always precedes software innovation.
For example, computers needed to be created before the invention of the World Wide Web. Consider the telecommunications industry, where early cell phones weighed 2 kg (4.4 lbs). Thanks to hardware and electronics engineers, the mobile device in your pocket (or that you’re reading this from), weighs on average ~0.18 kg (0.4 lbs).
Aside from the familiar electronics we use daily, a hardware engineer’s job includes creating the components that interact with any sophisticated computer program. A career path as a hardware engineer can be designing aerospace products, automotive components, power grids, or kitchen appliances.
9 Technical Skills Hardware Engineers Need to Know
A career as a hardware engineer requires an extensive knowledge of complex computer and electronic subjects. If you’re looking to pursue a hardware engineer job, a background in information technology, systems engineering, or computer programming provides the backbone of a solid skill set.
Most hardware engineers have a degree in a related field, and many pursue certification related to their hardware specialty. Notable certifications include CompTIA A+, Cisco training and certifications, and ABET accreditation.
1. Computer Architecture Knowledge
Computer systems are made of internal parts like microprocessors and memory systems, as well as input and output devices like keyboards and monitors. Computer architecture is basically the blueprint and organization of how these components operate together.
Knowing what’s inside and how it works assists in designing, testing, and producing better hardware.
2. Circuit Design
An electronic circuit includes a conducting path, a voltage source, and a load. Hardware engineers have extensive knowledge of how to build analog and digital circuits. They use Printed Circuit Board or PCB design to chemically print the schematics onto a plastic board before adding electronic components like diodes.
3. Low-Level Programming Languages
Hardware engineers aren’t known for being savvy programmers. They don’t need to know software languages like Java, but they need to know how to use low-level computer programming languages.
Languages like Assembly, C, and even Python are essential for controlling hardware systems and developing different drivers to interface with operating systems like Unix, Linux, Android, Microsoft, and macOS.
Computer-aided design is how hardware engineers digitally create 3D models and 2D drawings of the products they intend to build. One of the most popular softwares for this skill is AutoCAD. CAD is used to visualize concepts and present to project managers and clients.
5. FPGA Design
Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) are integrated circuits that are programmed after they are manufactured. Hardware engineers use configurable logic blocks (CLBs) to program different configurations on FPGAs depending on the hardware.
6. Signal Integrity
When creating a PCB layout, a hardware engineer must measure the electric signal quality to ensure that it is not degraded as it transfers. A good signal across the board is necessary for high-speed function. Being familiar with transmission line theory, electromagnetic interference (EMI), and signal conditioning helps maintain signal integrity throughout product development.
7. Simulation Tools
Hardware designs are prototyped and tested before large-scale manufacturing. SPICE, a circuit simulator used to predict circuit behavior, and MATLAB, simulator software that replicates hard-to-produce conditions (like in space) help to evaluate and test hardware designs.
Using simulation tools is important for troubleshooting, as this allows for diagnosing and fixing problems in development before launching a product.
8. Power Management
Power Management allows the user to control the power mode of their device without having it affect performance.
In order to provide this feature and be energy-efficient, hardware engineers must have knowledge of power supply design, battery management, and optimization techniques.
9. Embedded Systems
An embedded system is when hardware and software work together to perform an intended task.
Knowledge and the ability to create an embedded system are essential for a hardware engineer. You must be able to use diverse technical languages so that hardware and software can communicate.
Soft Skills To Stand Out
While there is an extensive list of technical skills and certifications for hardware engineers, it is equally important to possess certain soft skills in order to excel in a hardware engineer career.
Soft skills you can brush up on before your next interview include:
Critical thinking skills
What is the difference between software and hardware engineers?
The difference between hardware and software engineers is that hardware engineers create physical components such as motherboards, whereas software engineers are creating applications and programs for the hardware devices.
What skills can you use if you are coming from a software engineering background? The skills you can use from a software engineering background include the knowledge of computer operations, technical problem-solving skills, and general knowledge of computers and their users.
A software engineer knows what innovations of physical components can be developed to improve people’s software experiences.
In addition, a transitional career from software development to hardware is in systems programming. A software engineer can take their knowledge of programming languages and algorithms and apply it to hardware interfaces.
Resume Checklist for Hardware Engineers
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for computer hardware engineers is projected to grow 5% until 2031, with 5300 openings each year.
If you’ve got the skills and are ready to find a full-time job in hardware engineering, make sure to give your resume a double-check for these key features:
Education in electrical or computer engineering
Any certifications you hold
Your previous job experience in the field or a similar field
If you don’t have many years of experience, include a portfolio of projects
Highlight your best technical skills, including your experience with embedded systems, debugging and troubleshooting, FPGA firmware design, and PCB design
List the programming language that you write in
List the simulation tools that you use
Hiring managers gravitate towards innovation and analysis soft skills
Looking for hardware engineers? Try our MVPs.
The demand for computer hardware engineers continues to grow. Do you need a team member to design processors or other physical hardware components? MVP Match has a network of highly skilled freelance engineers that can take your next hardware product from research and design to market. Hire top MVP talent to join your company today!
MVP Match connects talent to teams. Do you have the skills in this article? Apply to join MVP Match to be matched with a company looking for your expertise!
Read Next: European Venture Capitalists Funding Hardware Startups