Certificate in Computer Engineering
| Holland Webb
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A computer engineering certificate can lead to professional positions or higher education opportunities in the lucrative, fast-paced information technology (IT) industry. Prospective computer engineers can gain the skills and knowledge they need without investing in a full degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the technology field will add 667,600 new jobs from 2020-2030. Currently, professionals working in this field earn a median wage of $91,250. In addition to high-paying job opportunities, computer engineers enjoy meaningful work in industries like communications, transportation, healthcare, or national security.
This page introduces prospective students to computer engineering certificates. We also cover how this credential compares to a degree or bootcamp in the field.
What to Expect From a Computer Engineering Certificate Program
A certificate in computer engineering prepares students for career advancement or higher education in the field. Learners pursuing the certificate usually take 12-18 credits in one year of study. At most schools, students can take these classes online or in person.
Courses cover wireless network protocols, computer organization and design, and advanced logic design. Other topics include hardware security and advanced computer architecture. The exact curriculum depends upon the school and the concentration.
A certificate in computer engineering prepares students for career advancement or higher education in the field.
Students can use the certificate as a low-cost alternative to a degree in computer engineering. Credits earned as part of a certificate program at a regionally accredited school may transfer into a bachelor's or master's degree.
The cost of a certificate varies based on several factors. For example, private, out-of-state, and for-profit schools typically charge higher tuition rates than public, in-state, or nonprofit institutions. Students attending accredited schools can often take advantage of federal financial aid packages.
To apply for an undergraduate certificate in computer engineering, prospective students should hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. All applicants need to send in an application form and transcripts from any previously attended colleges, if applicable.
Students hoping to enroll in a graduate certificate program must hold a bachelor's degree, usually with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Some schools expect applicants to demonstrate some background in the field either through previous coursework or professional experience.
Different Certificate Types
Not all computer engineering certificates are the same. These programs are offered at different levels with distinct concentration offerings.
Colleges offer both entry-level and graduate certificates in computer engineering. Entry-level programs cater to professionals starting to explore the profession. Graduate certificates require a bachelor's degree and usually some academic or professional background in computer engineering.
Schools provide various concentrations as part of the certificate's curriculum. These concentrations can include computer systems, networks, digital hardware, systems programming, or robotics and control. Some institutions offer certificates online, while others extend in-person or hybrid learning opportunities to students. Online programs can include synchronous or asynchronous course structures.
When exploring educational options in computer engineering, prospective students should keep in mind the difference between certificates and certifications. Schools award certificates for completing academic courses. Companies, professional associations, and nonprofit organizations issue certifications in computer engineering to validate knowledge of a specific product or skill.
For a broad introduction to the field, students should consider a certificate. To learn specific technical skills, they should pursue a certification.
Popular Computer Engineering Certificate Courses
Computer engineering courses at one school may not overlap with the courses required at another institution. Some programs offer a series of core courses along with electives. Others provide a complete package of required courses.
The list below explores some of the classes a student may encounter in a typical computer engineering certificate program:
- Computer Architecture: Learners explore how to construct modern high-performance systems and processors. This course covers topics such as superscalar, pipelining, caches, multithreading, out-of-order execution, virtual memory, and multiprocessors. Students understand the issues that affect the nexus architecture and operating systems.
- Computer Security: Students learn the fundamentals of cybersecurity, including cryptography, wireless networking, and security management. In this course, learners also gain hands-on experience with cybersecurity tools. They also learn to develop and implement comprehensive security strategies, protocols, and plans.
- Machine Learning: Machine learning or AI is key to developing intelligent systems and analyzing scientific data. AI enables technologies such as Siri and self-driving cars. In this course, students learn the science of data, including the theoretical, algorithmic, and practical aspects of machine learning.
- Internet Engineering: Students in this course learn the fundamentals of internet and web technologies, including architecture, applications, and protocols. Topics in this course include the history of the internet, networking basics, web programming, internet security, web servers, and routing and transporting protocols.
How Much Do Computer Engineering Certificates Cost?
Tuition for a computer engineering certificate can range from $350-$998 per credit. However, costs vary depending on several factors, including program level (undergraduate vs. graduate), university type (public vs. private), and student residency (in state vs. out of state).
A graduate certificate typically costs more than an undergraduate certificate. Private schools generally charge more than public schools. Nonprofit schools usually cost less than comparable for-profit institutions.
Although the expenses can add up quickly, most certificates cost less than either an associate degree or a computer engineering bootcamp.
In-state discounts can lower the price of higher education for state residents. Online learners can sometimes benefit from discounted tuition rates. Besides tuition, students should budget for books, fees, and living expenses while in school.
Although the expenses can add up quickly, most certificates cost less than either an associate degree or a computer engineering bootcamp. Since a certificate may require just 15-18 credits, it costs less than a degree at the same school. In addition, students may access federal, state, or private financial aid for a certificate program.
Why Get a Certificate in Computer Engineering?
Computer engineering certificates allow graduates with a degree in another field to pursue technology jobs. Those with relevant experience may enhance their knowledge of the field, positioning themselves for career advancement.
Lucrative positions in technology are growing. According to the BLS, computer and technology workers earned a median annual salary of $91,250 as of 2020, compared to $41,250 for all workers. The BLS also projects that employment in the technology field will grow 13% from 2020-2030, much faster than other occupations.
Because a certificate takes less time and money than a degree, certificate-holders can pursue a degree or pivot to a new job quickly. A certificate in computer engineering can prepare a student for one of the following careers:
Should You Get a Certificate or an Associate Degree?
Both associate degrees and certificates take less time than bachelor's degrees, but completion times vary.
An associate degree requires about 60 credits, or two years of study. Curricula usually include general education courses, preparing students for a bachelor's in computer engineering. In comparison, a computer engineering certificate usually requires 12-18 credits, or 1-2 semesters. This program may focus on a single subject and can require a bachelor's degree for admission.
Consider these differences between a computer engineering certificate and an associate degree:
Comparing Certificate and Associate Programs
|Computer Engineering Certificate||Computer Engineering Associate Degree|
|Cost||Because this program entails fewer credits than an associate degree, it may cost less.||This program may cost four times what a certificate would cost at the same institution.|
|Focus||Emphasizes career-ready programming skills, usually computer languages||Prepares students to enter a bachelor's program or pursue jobs in systems administration and development|
|Admissions Requirements||Graduate certificates require a bachelor's degree||An associate degree usually requires a high school diploma or GED certificate|
|Length||Usually requires 15-18 credits or 1-2 semesters of study||Requires at least 60 credits or two years of study|
Computer Engineering Certificates Versus Bootcamps
Traditionally, a degree is the most common path to a career. However, in tech fields, there are not enough qualified workers to fill available roles. Bootcamps and short-term certificates can help fill the workforce gap.
Quick and intensive coding bootcamp programs offer career-focused education for qualifying applicants. Certificates provide a short, focused academic experience in computer engineering. Both options can help new professionals start their computer engineering careers. However, the two program types have key differences:
Comparing Certificate Programs and Bootcamps
|Computer Engineering Certificate||Computer Engineering Bootcamp|
|Accreditation||Certificates from accredited institutions must meet current industry standards.||Bootcamps do not hold accreditation.|
|Schedule||Follows a traditional academic calendar||Operates on an intensive timetable|
|Cost||Tuition rates can range from $350-$988 per credit. Public colleges and universities typically charge the least, while private schools charge the most.||According to a 2019 RTI Press study, bootcamp prices range from $7,500-$13,950.|
|Financing Options||Qualifies for federal and state aid||Rarely qualifies for federal or state aid|
|Admission Requirements||Graduate certificates require a bachelor's degree for admission.||May have no entry requirements|
Selecting the Right Computer Engineering Certificate Program
Prospective students should consider many factors when selecting a computer engineering certificate. Major factors include curriculum, cost, and career development resources. Other considerations include:
- Accreditation: Students should earn a certificate from a regionally accredited school. Regional accreditation helps ensure course transfers, financial aid options, and educational quality.
- Additional Degrees: Does the school offer an associate or bachelor's program that students could transfer this certificate into?
- School Focus: Does the school have state-of-the-art hardware and software? Is it investing in qualified faculty members? The best institutions will demonstrate commitment to high-quality technology education.
- Alumni Network: A robust alumni network can be a critical resource in helping students connect to professional organizations and job opportunities after graduation.
- Location: A school's location can directly impact a student's experience. Some things to consider are whether the college or university is located in a small town or major tech hub. Larger cities typically provide more job or internship opportunities.
Should You Get Your Certificate in Computer Engineering Online?
Online program offerings in fast-growing tech are increasingly available. Computer engineering is particularly well suited to the online learning experience, because this technology-focused program requires heavy computer use. Still, online programs present their own distinct benefits and challenges.
Prospective distance learners should consider questions such as:
- Do I possess the self discipline to study online?
- How easily can I communicate with teachers, administrators, and peers?
- Do I have the time management skills to do online education?
- Does this program provide career services to online students?
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Frequently Asked Questions
A certificate in computer engineering generally takes 15-18 credits to complete. By studying full time, students may complete their certificate in one semester. Part-time learners may need a full year.
Yes, qualified applicants can pursue computer engineering jobs without a degree. However, applicants need knowledge, skill, and experience in the field. Additionally, some employers may prefer to hire those with a degree in the field.
A certificate in computer engineering prepares students with the design and analysis skills to excel in computer networking, architecture, and systems management jobs. Careers may include computer programmer, software developer, and computer support specialist.
Like other computer-related fields, computer engineering requires knowledge of advanced mathematics such as calculus, logical proofs, and data structures. Computer engineering professionals may also need to complete training to stay on top of industry trends.
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