Computer Engineer Salary and Career Outlook

Updated September 21, 2023

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Interested in a computer engineering career? This guide explores computer engineer salaries, job projections, and top states for computer engineers. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Computer systems have evolved significantly over the past several decades. This is thanks to computer engineers who design, test, and improve these systems. This skilled career can lead to high-paying jobs with some of the best-known companies in the world, including Apple, Amazon, and Google.

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a slower-than-average growth rate of 5% for computer engineers, these professionals earned a healthy median annual salary of $128,170 as of 2021. Moreover, with computers used in so many types of technology, demand for computer engineers will likely continue into the future.

This page takes an in-depth look at computer engineer salary and job prospects.

What Does a Computer Engineer Do?

Computer engineers design, implement, and test computer systems. They also improve computer systems' efficiency and reliability.

A computer engineer might combine electrical engineering with computer science to create technology. This technologies may become part of vehicles, security systems, or other electronic devices. These professionals must understand programming languages and have exceptional problem-solving skills.

Computer engineers work closely with software developers, computer programmers, and other related professionals. Although computer engineers often work in technology, they may also find jobs in manufacturing, research, and government positions.

Learn more about the life and responsibilities of a computer engineer by visiting the following links:

How Much Can You Earn as a Computer Engineer?

Computer engineers often made salaries over $120,000 as of 2021. However, salaries vary depending on factors like experience: Computer engineers with more years of experience often earn higher salaries than entry-level workers.

Advanced computer engineering degree-holders can land high-paying roles in computer and information systems management, earning a median salary of $159,010 as of 2021.

High-paying roles in computer and information systems management can earn a median salary of $159,010 as of 2021.

Degree specializations also contribute to differences in pay. For example, a networking specialization qualifies graduates for network administrator careers with a 2021 median salary of $80,600.

Advanced computer engineering degree-holders can land high-paying roles in computer and information systems management, earning a median salary of $159,010 as of 2021.

Location also influences industry salaries. For example, the BLS lists Washington, California, and Massachusetts as the states with the highest wages for computer hardware engineers. Meanwhile, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Nevada offer some of the lowest average salaries.


Median Annual Salary of Computer Engineers, 2021

Source: BLS

Computer Engineer Salary by Experience

Generally, more experienced professionals earn higher salaries. As computer engineers accrue experience and advanced degrees or certifications, they can command higher salaries.

The following table lists the average annual computer engineer salary outlook based on experience.

Average Computer Engineering Salary by Experience
Years of Experience Average Annual Salary
Entry-Level (<1 year) $76,000
Early Career (1-4 years) $82,250
Mid Career (5-9 years) $95,000
Late Career (10-19 years) $102,000

Source: Payscale, September 2022

Computer Engineer Salary by Education

Recent computer engineering graduates pursue entry-level careers, gaining on-the-job experience as their career advances. An associate degree in computer science or a coding bootcamp can lead to apprenticeship or junior-level opportunities. However, most skilled positions require at least a bachelor's degree. These jobs tend to offer higher wages.

A master of science in computer engineering can also significantly boost a graduate's ability to advance their career and earn a higher salary. Gaining several years of experience with a company can also lead to advancement.

Additionally, computer engineering certificates build crucial computer networking and architecture skills to make prospective employees more competitive. These certificates are often more affordable than a graduate degree.

While there is overlap between computer science and computer engineering, computer science focuses on data processes, while computer engineering combines computer science with electrical processes.

The table below lists the average hourly and annual wages for degree-holders at different education levels. Note that these figures represent all degree-holders across computer science, not solely computer engineers.

Average Salaries by Education
Education Level Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Associate in Computer Science $16.20 $65,000
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering $29.00 $92,000
Master of Science in Computer Engineering $41.00 $103,000
Doctorate of Computer Science $47.50 $131,000

Source: Payscale, September 2022

Which Education Path Is Right for You?

Computer Engineer Salary by Location

Like many careers, computer science salaries tend to rise in urban areas where the cost of living is higher. States with thriving business sectors — like Washington, California, and Massachusetts — top the list of states with the highest average computer engineer salary.

The World Population Review notes these states also have some of the highest costs of living in the country: Where the national average cost of living scores 100, California's is 142.2, Massachusetts's is 135, and Washington's is 111.6. A higher cost of living leads to higher housing costs and living expenses, which can negate the benefits of a sizable salary.

Other states with more rural communities need computer engineers, and pay well for them. For example, data from the BLS shows the average salary for computer engineers in Alabama, Wisconsin, and Utah tops $100,000. All three states also have lower-than-average costs of living.

It is crucial to consider computer engineer salary versus demand and cost of living when choosing the best area to start your career. The BLS data in the tables below shows the top-paying states and metropolitan regions for computer engineers in 2021. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Computer Engineers
Metropolitan Area Number of Computer Engineers Employed Average Annual Wage
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California 3,880 $185,210
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California 7,550 $183,320
San Diego-Carlsbad, California 3,870 $161,580
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California 70 $154,610
Fort Collins, Colorado 1,360 $146,950

Source: BLS, 2021

Top-Paying States for Computer Engineers
State Average Annual Wage Employment
California $169,970 19,910
Washington $166,980 1,830
Virginia $139,180 3,590
Oregon $ 136,150 7,780
Nevada $135,880 n/a

Source: BLS, 2021

Computer Engineers' Job Outlook and Career Prospects

The demand for computer engineers continues to grow, albeit more slowly than other computer-related occupations. The BLS projects 5% growth for this career from 2021-2031, as fast as the average growth BLS projects for all occupations. Companies need computer engineers to create and improve computer hardware, a trend that shows no sign of ceasing.

The BLS projects faster growth for jobs related to computer engineering, including software engineers and web developers: 25% growth and 23% growth, respectively, in these careers from 2021-2031. Thus, degree-seekers prioritizing future job security can specialize in one of these similar, faster-growing disciplines instead.

Location also has a significant impact on available jobs. For example, densely populated regions like the San Francisco Bay Area or the Washington, D.C. metro area offer high computer engineer employment rates. In contrast, states with more rural regions, like Alaska and Louisiana, provide fewer opportunities for these professionals.

Change in Projected Employment for Computer Engineers:

+5% from 2021 to 2031

Source: BLS

Best Locations for Computer Engineers

Because most computer engineering jobs are in the tech industry, these positions often cluster in urban areas near companies' headquarters. California employs 19,910 computer engineers, the highest-employing state for these professionals. Several Californian metropolitan areas lead the pack in employment and wages.

The sections below examine states, areas, and cities with the most potential for computer engineers.

Top States

Computer engineer salaries and job opportunities vary significantly across the country. Generally, states with large metropolitan areas, like California and Texas, employ the most computer engineers and offer some of the highest salaries. These states also tend to have higher projected employment increases for computer engineers.

However, other states with large rural areas, like Georgia and Tennessee, also exhibit healthy job growth projections from 2020-2030, according to Projections Central.

Generally, states with large metropolitan areas employ the most computer engineers and offer some of the highest salaries.

Though states like Florida and Texas offer wages lower than the national median salary, for computer engineers, their costs of living are also lower relative to the national index.

Florida employs a little over 3,000 computer engineers who earn an average wage of $114,720. The cost of living index is 100.3, compared to the national average of 100.

Texas employs 5,070 computer engineers who earn an average wage of $115,640. This state's cost of living index is 92.1.

The tables below analyze top-employing states and states with high projected growth for computer engineer employment. This data may help computer science degree-seekers find states with high-paying opportunities.

Top-Employing States for Computer Engineers
Top-Employing States Number of Computer Engineers Employed Average Annual Wage
California 19,910 $169,970
Oregon 7,780 $136,150
Colorado 5,270 $135,540
Texas 5,070 $115,640
Virginia 3,590 $139,180

Source: BLS, 2021

States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Computer Engineers
State Percent Projected Change, 2020-30 Average Annual Openings
Greatest Projected Percentage Increase
Washington 35.3 280
Colorado 32.1 540
Tennessee 27 40
Kentucky 18.5 30
South Dakota 25 0
Most Projected Average Annual Openings
California 15.1 1,710
Colorado 32.1 540
Texas 13.9 380
Florida 18.2 370
Washington 35.3 280

Source: Projections Central, 2020-2030

Top Cities

Cities and metropolitan areas lead the nation's technology industry. Well-known tech companies like PayPal and Google call these areas home. California employs the largest number of computer engineers nationally, thanks to its many metropolitan areas and its business incentives that attract companies to the state.

According to the BLS, regions outside California also offer attractive salaries for computer engineers, including the DMV area outside Washington, D.C. ($140,970), and Portland, Oregon ($136,800). Furthermore, these states have much lower cost of living indexes than California's 141.2: 101-124 for the DMV and 130.1 in Oregon.

The table below notes the metropolitan areas with the highest computer engineer employments, along with their average annual wages for reference.

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Computer Engineers
Metropolitan Area Number of Computer Engineers Employed Average Annual Wage
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California 7,550 $183,320
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA, Oregon-Washington 7,430 $136,800
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC, Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia 4,230 $140,970
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California 3,880 $185,210
San Diego-Carlsbad, California 3,870 $161,580

Source: BLS, 2021

Best Industries for Computer Engineers

The computer systems design industry boasts the highest employment numbers for computer engineers, as indicated in the BLS data below. Despite this higher total jobs in this field, other industries like software publishing and securities and financial investment pay higher average salaries.

Computer engineers can find work in diverse fields, including semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing and scientific research and development services. Some of the more lucrative industries like insurance carriers or securities and financial investment employ very few engineers, making these fields competitive.

The computer-related service industry offers excellent opportunities for entry-level professionals. However, computer engineers with a master's degree or advanced certifications may prefer applying their progressive skill sets to other relevant industries, like navigational manufacturing or computer equipment manufacturing.

Computer engineers should consider how their duties might shift in various industries. For instance, software publishing professionals might design, test, and improve computer hardware to accommodate the publisher's latest business software release. In contrast, a computer engineer working in manufacturing might design circuit boards for industrial machinery.

Top-Paying Industries for Computer Engineers
Top-Paying Industries Employment Average Annual Wage
Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities 100 $194,630
Information Services 330 $183,640
Scientific Research and Development Services 13,360 $172,460
Software Publishers 1,750 $167,580
Insurance Carriers 40 $167,020

Source: BLS, 2021

Employment by Industry for Computer Engineers
Industries with Highest Employment Employment Average Annual Wage
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 14,660 $128,440
Scientific Research and Development Services 13,360 $172,460
Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing 9,240 $134,800
Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing 4,930 $142,160
Federal Executive Branch 3,630 $117,990

Source: BLS, 2021

Upward Mobility for Computer Engineers

Graduate-level education, certifications, and job experience can lead to career advancement for computer engineers./p>

As these professionals gain new skills, they can move upward into supervisory, research, and data-focused positions, or move laterally (with potential pay increases) to roles as software engineers. Some examples include:

  • Data Scientist: Computer engineers may transition to data science roles by pursuing an advanced degree or specialization in data science. These high-paying roles require mathematical and computational skills to assist businesses with creating data-driven solutions.
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists: The BLS projects this career field will grow 21% between 2021 and 2031. Computer and information research scientists often hold a master's degree or doctorate in a computer engineering-related field.
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers: These professionals hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. Completing a master's of business administration (MBA) or other graduate degree and gaining several years of professional experience can boost a candidate's potential for advancement to this position.

Learn More About Computer Engineers

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What Is a Computer Engineer?

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How to Become a Computer Engineer

How to Become a Computer Engineer

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Day in the Life of a Computer Engineer

Day in the Life of a Computer Engineer

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Computer Engineering Degree Programs

Computer Engineering Degree Programs

Find a computer engineering degree program to suit your education level and career goals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Engineers

How much do starting computer engineers make?

According to Payscale data from August 2022, the average computer engineer salary for entry-level workers is around $76,000. Early-career wages after 1-4 years rise to an average $82,250, while the long-term professional's average salary is around $102,000.

What is the highest salary for a computer engineer?

The highest salary potential for computer engineers often occurs with experience. The BLS reports that as of May 2021, computer engineers earned a median annual salary approaching $128,170.

What are the highest paying companies for computer engineering?

The highest-paying companies for computer engineering are in the securities, commodity contracts, and financial investments industry. BLS data shows an average annual salary of $194,630 for computer engineers in this industry.

Is computer engineering in demand?

Although not growing as fast as other computer-related careers, the BLS projects a 5% job growth for computer engineers between 2021-2031. Computer systems design and manufacturing industries are among the top-employing industries seeking these professionals.

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