Also known as hardware designers or engineers this job involves designing and developing the components which make up computers and technical items. This includes a wide variety of components from microchips, circuit boards and processing units to displays, keyboards and data cables. With the need for new hardware systems and technologies constantly evolving a career in hardware development offers many opportunities in a variety of different industries.
The work of a hardware developer is highly technical and usually requires a university degree. There are many different courses offered that will give you the skills required to become a hardware developer such as computer engineering, computer systems engineering and electronics engineering. Some universities offer a sandwich course where you can study one year while working in industry in order to gain practical experience under the supervision of an experienced developer.
Most university courses require at least five GCSEs graded A*-C including ones in maths and science. It may also be an advantage to hold GCSEs in design and IT in order to have as much experience as possible in the area. After this you should study A levels, including ones in IT, maths or a similar subject, which should total at least 280 UCAS points. It may also be possible to gain acceptance with equivalent qualifications such as a B-TEC but you should check with individual institutions before applying.
As a course in computer engineering or hardware development can be quite intensive it will help to gain as much experience as possible. You will probably already have an interest in the way technical components work and may have taught yourself some of the skills needed. It may also be worth asking any local companies if you can ‘shadow’ someone who works in hardware development in order to gain practical experience.
Career pathways after graduation
While the amount of companies that specialise in hardware development has declined in Britain there are still a number of companies that need people with this expertise. Some larger companies offer graduate schemes where you will be employed straight after graduation. These schemes take in graduates and offer extra training under the supervision of more experienced professionals while paying them a salary and helping with their development within the company.