Guide to Computer Engineering Certificate Programs


Updated June 3, 2024

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With or without a bachelor's degree, a computer engineering certificate can give you the power to unlock careers in the growingly competitive field of information technology. 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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Even the tech industry isn't immune to layoffs. Standing out — either to protect yourself or help you get hired quicker — is in your best interest. Computer engineering certifications can help people with existing computer science degrees to stay competitive, while a computer engineering certificate can teach you computer architecture and system design concepts to get you in the job market faster.

Even with the job losses, IT remains an in-demand industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment for computer hardware engineers to increase by 5%, a rate faster than the average occupation is projected to increase by.

Discover the best computer engineering certificates, including common admission requirements, coursework, and possible career paths.

Popular Online Certificate Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Why Get a Computer Engineering Certificate?

Computer engineering now ranks as one of the most popular college majors. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), In the 2020-2021 school year, engineering technology ranked as a top associate program, with 34,164 degrees awarded.

For many professionals, a computer engineering certificate can provide a pathway into a field that usually requires a bachelor's degree in computer engineering or a similar major like computer science. The BLS estimates that about 82,660 people work as computer hardware engineers as of May 2023.

Earning a computer engineering certificate allows non-computer engineering majors to switch careers in under a year. Most computer engineers work in research and development, while others find employment in semiconductor manufacturing, computer systems design, or computer manufacturing.

Computer engineers often share similar traits, including strong problem-solving, communication, and analytical skills. The career offers numerous benefits, even considering the tech climate.

  • Potential High Earnings: Even entry-level computer engineering careers pay well. The BLS reports that the lowest 10% of computer engineers make less than $81,630 as of May 2023, while the top 10% earn more than $212,770.
  • Fast and Cost-Effective Educational Route: A computer engineering certificate allows you to get practical training and knowledge faster and cheaper than a college degree.
  • Stackable Education: You can enroll in a computer engineering certificate after earning a bachelor's in another field, or use the certificate to build on your education. For instance, a certificate can provide the college credits needed to enter an associate degree. And associate credits can go toward a bachelor's program.

What to Expect From Computer Engineering Certificate Programs

Colleges and universities offer certificates in computer engineering that provide professional development to people at all stages in their careers. Students complete 12-15 credits over about one year. Credits often transfer toward an associate or bachelor's degree. Graduating with a certificate in engineering can also suffice for entry-level careers.

The certificate courses focus on computer architecture, networking, cybersecurity, and software and systems. Programs also cover topics like object-oriented programming and machine learning.

A certificate usually costs less to earn than a degree. Accredited schools allow students to use federal financial aid to pay for certificates. The cost for a certificate depends on the school, with private institutions usually costing more than public ones. Entry-level certificates accept students with no college experience.

Certificate Types

Schools offer either entry-level certificates in computer engineering, or graduate certificates which require a bachelor's degree to get admitted. Entry-level certificates offer an opportunity for career switchers or people with little to no college experience to train in computer engineering. Graduate certificates allow degree-holders to specialize in computer engineering, even if they majored in another field.

Computer engineering certificates may offer concentrations in artificial intelligence, computer security, or networking.

Admissions Process

Admission requirements for computer engineering programs differ with each type of certificate. Entry-level certificates admit applicants who demonstrate a proficiency in topics such as software design and computer hardware. Master's certificates require that you hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, often with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

All certificates require that applicants complete an online application and fee. The application usually includes a resume and personal statement. If programs require prerequisites, often you need to submit college transcripts. Possible prerequisites may include discrete mathematics, data structures and algorithms, programming, and computer systems and engineering.

International candidates often take an English language proficiency exam.

Popular Computer Engineering Certificate Courses

Computer engineering merges computer science and electrical engineering to form a broad field. The courses offered in one computer engineering certificate may differ from those in another program. That said, you can expect to take common courses.

  • Computer Architecture

    This course teaches learners about modern computing technology architectures by examining how hardware and software are interconnected. Learners often study digital logic design, register transfer systems, pipeline processing, storage, and virtual memory. The lessons aim to enable students to develop computer systems.
  • Computer Network Security

    Students in this course learn to secure network data. They study potential risks, including Trojans, worms, ransomware, phishing, viruses, and malware, and learn how to create defenses against them.
  • Hardware/Software Design of Embedded Systems

    Learners examine the technology and design of embedded systems concealed inside of cars, smartphones, laptops, and other devices that we use every day. The course often covers the ethics of embedded computing. Topics explored may include actuators, sensors, actuators, and hardware-software partitioning.
  • Machine Learning

    Machine learning is a subdiscipline of artificial intelligence that trains computers to use data to create prediction algorithms. Students learn about how to apply supervised learning to regression issues, how to choose algorithms, and the differences between logistic regression and linear regression.

How Much Do Certificates in Computer Engineering Cost?

Tuition cost ranges widely, with students paying between $97-$1,137/credit to earn a computer engineering certificate. Because each college sets the price of tuition, you can expect to find different rates.

Private colleges and universities tend to charge higher tuition, while public colleges usually offer lower rates. Computer engineering certificates may be eligible for federal financial aid, if the college holds institutional accreditation.

Certificates tend to cost less than associate degrees, which require a longer commitment and more credits. Online computer engineering certificates may cost less since colleges often charge a flat rate for students regardless of their residency status.

Certifications in Computer Engineering vs. Certificate Programs

Colleges award certificates after you complete a formal education, while computer engineering certifications are credentials awarded by professional organizations after you pass an exam. The differences between the two programs go beyond where you complete your certificate or certification. The cost, student outcomes, and length of programs also differ.

Difference Between Certificates and Certifications
Key Factor Computer Engineering Certificates Computer Engineering Certifications
Awarded By Degree-granting colleges and universities, including four-year and two-year schools Professional organizations such as the IEEE Computer Society
Cost Certificates require fewer credits than an associate degree, but a longer timeline than certifications which can make them more expensive Because certifications only take a matter of months, they can be cheaper than certificates
Exam Requirements Quizzes and assessments are normal, but not exams Applicants need to pay for and pass a computerized exam to receive certification.
Skills Acquired A fundamental understanding of computer engineering, including developing hardware and software systems. Good for professional development and upskilling for computer professionals
Time to Completion Up to one year Months

How to Choose the Right Certificate Program

One method to choose the right certificate program is to consider your past education and professional goals. You can also factor in additional considerations to pick the certificate that best suits your needs.

  • Admission Requirements: Verify if you meet the admission requirements for a program, which typically include a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Accreditation: Colleges and programs undergo an independent evaluation process to get accredited. Independent agencies assess schools to make sure they uphold academic standards. Institutions need accreditation to disperse federal financial aid. Programs that hold accreditation from professional organizations, such as ABET, meet industry standards.
  • Buildable Degrees: A college with associate and bachelor's programs may allow you to transfer credits toward a higher degree.
  • Cost/ Financial Aid: Even if a college costs more, the financial aid package you receive could make your certificate more affordable.
  • Location: If you cannot easily get to the campus, opt for an online program that allows you to take classes from anywhere.
  • Program Length: If you want your certificate fast, consider an accelerated program.

Should You Get Your Certificate in Computer Engineering Online?

Millions of undergraduates study online. In fall 2021, NCES reported 4.4 million undergraduate students took online courses exclusively, and 9.4 million took at least one online course. Distance learning makes sense, especially for learners enrolled in computer engineering certificates which require digital assignments.

Studying online can also prepare you for a remote job. The computer and information technology industries top other sectors in remote work, according to a FlexJobs report.

Should You Get Computer Engineering Certifications?

You should view certifications as a supplement to your computer engineering certificate or degree. Computer engineering professionals frequently pursue credentials for professional development after earning a formal education. Obtaining a computer engineering certification can differentiate you or help you gain recognition from your employer in a specific field. These are some of the most popular.

Possible Careers for Computer Engineers

What job you get in IT depends on your previous education. Employers pay based on your experience and background. While some network and computer systems administration make a median annual salary of $95,360 as of May 2023, the lowest 10% earned less than $58,580.

Computer Engineering Careers
Computer Engineering Career Paths Median Annual Wage, May 2023 Minimum Education Required
Computer Hardware Engineers $138,080 Bachelor's Degree
Full Stack Developer $75,057 (March 2024) Varies
Network Technician $95,360 Postsecondary certificate, associate degree, or bachelor's degree
Software Engineer $132,270 Bachelor's degree, or even a master's degree
Software Testers $63,620 (September 2023) No formal degree
Source: BLS and Payscale

Expand your education in computer science:

Associate Degrees in Computer Science

Associate Degrees in Computer Science

Associate degree programs in computer science can start you on a path toward a new career.

Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Programming

Bachelor's Degrees in Computer Programming

Explore computer programming bachelor's degrees.

Master's Degrees in Computer Engineering

Master's Degrees in Computer Engineering

Advance your career with a master's in computer engineering.

Doctoral Degrees in Software Engineering

Doctoral Degrees in Software Engineering

A Ph.D. in software engineering can position you to lead the field and shape the workforce for tomorrow.

FAQ About Computer Engineering Certificates

How long does it take to become a computer engineer?

Junior and other entry-level roles in computer engineering often require a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate programs in computer engineering take a minimum of four years for full-time students. Senior computer engineers hold at least a master's degree, which takes about 2-3 years. Additional certifications take more time.

Where can I work with a certificate in computer engineering?

The tech industry often rewards people who can demonstrate their knowledge and skill, even if they do not possess a college degree. A computer engineering certificate can get you started in customer support, network support, quality assurance testers, or junior roles in computer programming and software development.

Are computer engineering certifications the same as certificates?

No. Certificates come from schools, while certifications come from professional associations. Computer engineering certifications provide a distinction to professionals who complete requirements and exams. Certificates provide a formal education and college credits.

Are certificates in computer engineering worth it?

It depends on your intentions. If you want to get a senior role in computer engineering, a certificate won't suffice without a lot of experience. However, many people carve out career paths in computer engineering by climbing from computer support or junior developer roles.

Page last reviewed on April 30, 2024

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