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Computer Engineering job prospects?

KamelAkbarKamelAkbar Registered User Posts: 500 Member
edited October 2011 in Engineering Majors
I did a brief search for computer engineering jobs and found that a lot of companies are looking for programmers and will take computer engineers too. So, are computer engineers able to get jobs in their field -- designing hardware and low level programming? Stay away?
Post edited by KamelAkbar on
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Replies to: Computer Engineering job prospects?

  • aegrisomniaaegrisomnia Registered User Posts: 1,026 Senior Member
    Please consult the BLS OOH; see Engineers, Computer Hardware. Slow job growth; 4%. Cited reason: outsourcing. That's 2800 jobs per decade, or 280 jobs per year. If you are confident that you're among the 280 best computer engineers graduating every year, you have a chance of getting a job.
  • Burgsoccer09Burgsoccer09 Registered User Posts: 324 Member
    ^^Totally off base and ignorant. You have to consider everyone that retires per year as well, those need to be replaced.
  • KamelAkbarKamelAkbar Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    Please consult the BLS OOH; see Engineers, Computer Hardware. Slow job growth; 4%. Cited reason: outsourcing. That's 2800 jobs per decade, or 280 jobs per year. If you are confident that you're among the 280 best computer engineers graduating every year, you have a chance of getting a job.

    I have and it's definitely not reliable - it's from 2008 and probably based on data from earlier than 2008 and before the recession was evident. It lists civil engineering as the one with the second highest job growth and chem engineers with negative job growth.

    The 280 jobs per year statement is quite inaccurate because A) people retire, B) people get promoted to management positions, C) people change careers, D) people switch jobs or jobs move, creating new openings without increasing employment and E) the previously mentioned fact that that the BLS OOH is most certainly outdated.

    I believe you that it's a particularly vulnerable field to outsourcing though. Anyone have any input on the current state of the field?
  • yagottabelieveyagottabelieve Registered User Posts: 549 Member
    Actually, people are putting off retirement because of the economy. You can expect competition from people who are still in the field, as well as people who are entering the field, as long as the economy is weak.

    There are jobs that are being (or have been) outsourced; jobs that people from outside the US are brought in to do; jobs that get phased out due to a lack of demand. Not all jobs are like that, but be advised that getting and keeping a job may not be as easy as it was during the dotcom and housing boom years.
  • KamelAkbarKamelAkbar Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    yagottabelieve: Are people really being brought in to do comp engineering jobs? With the job prospects the way they are, would employers really be paying and taking the risks to sponsor immigrants for H-1Bs?

    I realize that grads are competing with experienced engineers. My argument was that the 280 positions per year can absolutely not be accurate. I'm not saying competition for the jobs isn't fierce, and I'm not claiming to know what the state of the employment prospects are. I am after all the one who is asking the question, but I just wanted to address aegrisomnia's statement.
  • BooleanBoolean Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    Just based on people that work in my lab, most of them seem to have multiple job offers to choose from before they graduate. They're mostly MS/PhD students though.
  • JamesMadisonJamesMadison - Posts: 619 Member
    Computer Engineers can also work as software engineers, and there are plenty of jobs in that area.
  • kkuo12887kkuo12887 Registered User Posts: 117 Junior Member
    You can do better than that in the Army. As a 1LT you can volunteer for 1 year ADOS tour at NGB-HQ as a Signal Officer (25A). The position requires that you have a Functional Area specialty or you have a CS/EE/IT BS degree. If you are another branch like me (Infantry), all it requires is a 4 week resident course (Signal Captain's Career Course - RC ). 1LT pay is approximately $5500-6000 per month after tax in the NoVA area. 1LT is also an automatic promotion after 18 months as a 2LT. The work-life balance is incredibly awesome. The position comes with a Top Secret clearance that is good for 5 years. The TS clearance is the real jackpot of the position. Finding employment at a defense contractor afterwards is cake if you have a valid and current TS clearance. If you don't find a job that pays over $100,000/year with a TS clearance and a CS/EE BS or MS, you messed up or are retarded.

    You could be the best CS/EE in the world but if you cannot get a TS clearance, then it means nothing.

    When it is all said and done, sponsoring an employee for a TS clearance ends up costing about $1-2 million. The only way to get someone in on a lucrative government contract outside of the traditional ways of allocated funding is to bring in someone with a pre-existing/current TS clearance. Your largest applicant pool for that would come from the branches of the military.

    In a way, you don't have to be a superstar and you won't be competing with the Einsteins in your class for employment. Also these jobs that require TS clearances cannot be outsourced.
  • DreburdenDreburden Registered User Posts: 297 Junior Member
    Very interesting kkuo...I have read a few other posts on this forum about TS clearance for government contract work. It is not something that is discussed very often, but I will definitely check it out in the future (still a student.) Thanks
  • aegrisomniaaegrisomnia Registered User Posts: 1,026 Senior Member
    Wow, I didn't mean to ruffle feathers. To address a few of the claims...

    1. The retirement thing is a good point, and so is switching fields. Let's say that, on average, people work for 20 years in computer engineering before permanently leaving (for software/other jobs or to retire). That means 5% of the total job pool must also be filled every year, or about 3,800. Add to the new jobs and you're looking at, ballpark, 4,000 to 4,500 openings per year. If you think the 20 year estimate is too low, 40 years would mean 2.5%, so 1,900, so between 2,000 and 2,500. Since this is an order of magnitude difference, I accept this as a valid criticism.

    2. I don't think it's so genuine to say that the BLS data is outdated, so we can't use it to say anything about employment. For instance, unless you have some reason to believe the computer engineering market has done substantially better than predicted, thanks to the
    recession, it seems that estimates based on the BLS can still be useful for optimistic, bound-from-above discussions.

    3. More fundamentally, I think that while it's valid to point out that the current version of the OOH is showing its age, responding (as the OP has in another thread) by throwing authoritative studies out the window is less than productive. If you are really interested in doing deep reasearch into this, the BLS publishes lots of data more frequently than the OOH... articles, databases, spreadsheets, etc. You have to look a bit more and the data isn't as conveniently presented, but it's there. Common sense should tell you that a few people's testimony on CC (assuming this is given in good faith, which you have no way of demonstrating) isn't necessarily very accurate, either.
  • brutallyhonestbrutallyhonest Registered User Posts: 95 Junior Member
    You could be the best CS/EE in the world but if you cannot get a TS clearance, then it means nothing.
    That's total bs. Rest of kkuo12887's post may be true, but declaring that getting a TS clearance is the be-all and end-all for the software field is pure bs. There are millions of software professionals in the country who do not have or need a secret clearance.
  • MokononMokonon Registered User Posts: 273 Junior Member
    Of course, it's BS. And btw, I know plenty of people who hold TS clearances who make under 100K.

    Also, the number of scientists and engineers in the cleared world who have served in the military is pretty small compared to the ones who haven't. Most get their clearances through their employer.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that working at a huge defense contractor isn't all its cracked up to be. The engineering world is full of refugees from the Lockheeds and the Raytheons and most don't have a lot of good things to say about working at those places. I would much rather work for less money at a small start up than collect at paycheck at Lockheed.
  • kkuo12887kkuo12887 Registered User Posts: 117 Junior Member
    That's total bs. Rest of kkuo12887's post may be true, but declaring that getting a TS clearance is the be-all and end-all for the software field is pure bs. There are millions of software professionals in the country who do not have or need a secret clearance.

    You are completely misunderstanding my point. Re-read it. The point is that you may be the brightest EE/CS in your entire class but if you can't get a TS clearance, a defense contractor cannot use you. It's not a matter of productivity, it's a matter of security.

    It's simply a way of minimizing your competition and finding a niche. In other words, if you're not the brightest EE/CS out there and you're just average, it's a way to achieve the same or better compensation that someone working for Microsoft or Google would. That's all. The TS clearance is certainly not the end-all be-all of the software engineering field.
    Of course, it's BS. And btw, I know plenty of people who hold TS clearances who make under 100K.
    Yes. Many people hold TS clearances. If you need to work in a TOC, you will need a TS clearance. That includes the janitor that works there. Does he make more than the average janitor? Yes. Does he make 100k, probably not.

    Now how many people with TS clearances and a solid technical background make under 100k?
    Also, the number of scientists and engineers in the cleared world who have served in the military is pretty small compared to the ones who haven't. Most get their clearances through their employer.
    You don't really understand the funding allocation process for TS clearances right? In order for your employer to sponsor an employee for a TS clearance they have to have a government contract. In that contract, it specifies the funding allocation for OPM clearing someone through this clearance process. It's a set number. The only way to increase productivity is to bring on people who already have existing clearances. The entire process costs $1-2 million. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that even hiring someone with an existing TS clearance and offering a generous premium in compensation is still cheaper than sponsoring someone through the TS clearance process.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that working at a huge defense contractor isn't all its cracked up to be. The engineering world is full of refugees from the Lockheeds and the Raytheons and most don't have a lot of good things to say about working at those places.
    Two words: corporate culture.
    Take the Army for example. When you examine the demographics of those who make O-6 Colonel or higher, you see that an overwhelming majority of those were originally branched infantry. They very well may have re-branched to some combat support or combat service support career field after their initial basic branch infantry despite the fact that for every 1 infantryman there are approximately 9 support personnel. Organizational culture matters. I suppose when working for a defense contractor and all else equal, those who served or are currently serving in uniform tend to do better.
  • MokononMokonon Registered User Posts: 273 Junior Member
    You don't know what you're talking about. The cleaning staff don't necessarily need clearances. If uncleared persons were cleaning secure areas, they would be under close supervision by cleared personnel. No, a TS clearance and a technical background does not mean you will automatically make six figures.

    I suspect that the majority of people with clearances are military people. But that's not what this conversation is about. We are talking about technical workers (e.g. engineers, scientists) with clearances, and only a minority of them have served in the military.

    I would take kkuo's comments with more than a grain of salt. 1 to 2 million dollars to sponsor a single TS clearance? Haha. You don't honestly think government contracts are THAT lucrative, do you? There would be no way that any defense contractor would sponsor any employee's clearance if it cost that much. At least wait until you graduate from college and start making the big bucks at your favorite defense contractor before you start giving people advice.
  • MokononMokonon Registered User Posts: 273 Junior Member
    Does an active clearance make it easier to find employment at a government contractor? Yes... but it's not necessarily a slam dunk, either. Does it guarantee a high salary? No.., but you may earn slightly more than you would without it. You may get a signing bonus, for example. I've also seen companies that gave employees referral bonuses if they referred an engineer who held an active clearance and that person got hired.
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