The Average Salary of a Hardware Design Engineer: Exploring Pay Factors and Career Advancement Opportunities

What is a Hardware Design Engineer?

Hardware Design Engineer working on a circuit board

Hardware Design Engineers are specialized engineers responsible for designing and developing electronic systems and hardware components for various industries, including aerospace, telecommunications, medical equipment, and consumer electronics. They are responsible for designing and developing printed circuit boards, microprocessors, semiconductors, and other electronic components that are needed for the functioning of various electronic devices. Hardware design engineers have a significant role in the electronics and semiconductor manufacturing industry since their designs directly affect the performance and functionality of electronic products.

The role of Hardware Design Engineer requires advanced technical skills and knowledge. They need to be up-to-date with the latest technology and industry trends. They also need to have in-depth knowledge of programming languages, coding, and electrical engineering. These engineers work alongside software developers, project managers, and other professionals, collaborating to create products that meet the needs of the end-users and conform to industry standards and regulations.

Hardware Design Engineers develop the schematics of the electronic components and then create a prototype of the hardware that is used in the final product. They also test the hardware to ensure that it meets the performance requirements and specifications. Hardware engineers are responsible for designing and developing circuits, microprocessors, and other components, researching materials to achieve optimal design, and often work within strict timelines to meet project delivery deadlines.

The job of a Hardware Design Engineer is diverse, and they may be responsible for working on a new product from concept to manufacture or developing parts of an existing product to improve performance. It is essential for Hardware Design Engineers to have excellent analytical and critical thinking skills since they get involved in solving complex problems and troubleshooting any technical issues with electronic devices.

The salary of a Hardware Design Engineer varies depending on experience, location, and industry. In the United States, the median salary for a Hardware Design Engineer is around $92,000 per year, with the highest-paid engineers earning more than $150,000 per year. The salary of a Hardware Design Engineer increases with experience and level of education. Having a post-secondary degree in electrical engineering, computer science or computer engineering will increase the earning potential of an engineer in this field.

In conclusion, Hardware Design Engineers are key players in the electronics manufacturing industry, and their work is critical in the development of electronic devices used in various industries. They require advanced technical skills and knowledge of the latest technology and industry trends. The job is diverse, and they may be responsible for developing parts of an existing product or working on a new product from concept to manufacture. The salary of a Hardware Design Engineer is excellent, and there are ample opportunities for growth and development within the industry.

Factors Affecting a Hardware Design Engineer’s Salary

Hardware Design Engineer Salary

Hardware design engineers are responsible for the research, design, and development of electronic hardware products, such as computer components, smartphones, and microprocessors. These engineers are highly skilled professionals who possess extensive knowledge of electronics, software, and hardware components, and their work plays a critical role in the success of high-tech corporations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for a hardware design engineer in the United States was $114,600 in May 2020. However, this pay rate varies depending on several factors.

Education and Experience

Education and Experience

The hardware design engineering field is one that requires a high level of education and experience. Most employers look for candidates who possess at least a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, computer engineering, or a related field. Additionally, candidates should have experience in designing and developing electronic hardware and software applications. Senior engineers with extensive experience may qualify for managerial positions that offer higher pay rates, such as engineering project manager or director of engineering.

In general, the more advanced the degree and experience, the higher the salary offered. According to the BLS, hardware design engineers with a master’s or doctoral degree earned a median salary of $126,660 and $139,490, respectively, in 2020. On the other hand, hardware design engineers with less than five years of experience earned a median salary of $81,760 in the same period. Therefore, education and experience are essential factors that impact the salary of a hardware design engineer.

Industry and Company

Industry and Company

An engineer’s salary can vary significantly depending on the industry and company they work for. According to PayScale, hardware design engineers who work in the aerospace and defense industries earn a median salary of $102,000 annually. Meanwhile, those who work in the technology and software development industries earn significantly higher median salaries of $121,000 and $120,000 per year, respectively.

Additionally, the size and reputation of the company also have an impact on the salary offered. Large tech companies, such as Apple, Google, and Amazon, are known to pay their engineers significantly higher salaries than small startups. The level of competition for positions in the industry also impacts salary rates. For example, engineers who work for startups usually earn less because startups have constrained budgets in contrast to large enterprises.



The location of a hardware design engineer’s job is another factor that can impact their salary. In general, high-tech companies located in major tech hubs on the West Coast, such as San Francisco or Seattle, offer higher salaries due to the high cost of living. Hardware design engineers who work in Silicon Valley reportedly earn some of the highest salaries in the industry. According to PayScale, the median salary for hardware design engineers in San Jose, California, is $135,000 per year.

However, the cost of living must also be taken into consideration. Even though tech salaries are high in Silicon Valley, the cost of living is also very high. As such, hardware design engineers who work in less expensive areas of the United States may earn a lower salary, but their disposable income may be higher due to the low cost of living.



Hardware design engineering is a challenging and rewarding career that offers many opportunities for growth and advancement. As with most professions, education and experience are two key factors that affect a hardware design engineer’s salary. The industry and company they work for, along with the location of their job, also play important roles in determining their salary. By taking these factors into consideration, hardware design engineers can determine a fair salary range to aim for and work towards achieving their career goals in the high-tech industry.

Average Salary of a Hardware Design Engineer in the US

Hardware Design Engineer Salary

Hardware design engineers are amongst the most in-demand professionals in the computer hardware industry. They specialize in creating, testing, and refining computer systems, electronic components, devices, and peripherals. These professionals play a crucial role in the development of technology products that improve our everyday lives. Given the importance of their role, hardware design engineers in the US can expect to earn an attractive salary.

The average salary of a hardware design engineer in the US is around $100,000 per year. This figure varies depending on a variety of factors, including location, years of experience, and the employer. In general, the more years of experience one has, the higher the salary. However, this is not always the case, as other factors such as skillset and certifications may also come into play.

Location is another key factor influencing hardware design engineer salaries in the US. For instance, those living in major tech hubs such as San Francisco, Seattle, and New York can expect to earn more than those living in smaller cities or rural areas. The cost of living in these major cities is also much higher, meaning that salaries have to be adjusted accordingly.

The Impact of Company Size and Industry on Hardware Design Engineer Salaries

Hardware Design Engineer Salary

Company size and industry are two other factors that have a significant influence on hardware design engineer salaries. Generally, engineers working for larger companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon can expect higher salaries than those working for smaller startups or research labs. This is because larger companies tend to have bigger budgets and can afford to pay higher salaries to attract the best talent.

The industry is also an important consideration for hardware design engineers. Those working in the medical device or aerospace industries, for example, can expect to earn higher salaries compared to those working in the gaming or consumer electronics industries. This is because the former industries require more complex, specialized hardware designs, which translates into higher salaries.

In terms of career advancement, hardware design engineers can expect to receive salary bumps as they progress through their career. For instance, a mid-level engineer with 5-10 years of experience can expect to earn around $120,000 per year, while a senior engineer with 10+ years of experience can earn upwards of $150,000 per year. Some companies may also offer additional perks such as stock options, bonuses, and profit-sharing to their employees.

Education and Certification Requirements for a Career in Hardware Design Engineering

Hardware Design Engineer Salary

To become a successful hardware design engineer, a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, computer engineering, or a related field is generally required. A master’s degree can also open up more advanced career opportunities and higher salaries. A strong foundation in mathematics, physics, and computer science is essential to becoming a hardware design engineer.

Hardware design engineers can also enhance their careers and potentially earn higher salaries by obtaining various certifications. For instance, the Certified Hardware Design Engineer (CHDE) certification is offered by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and is geared towards professionals looking to demonstrate their expertise in hardware design and development. Other certifications such as the Certified Hardware Security Professional (CHSP) and the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) can also be crucial for hardware design engineers working in fields such as aerospace, medical devices, and telecommunications.

In conclusion, hardware design engineering is a lucrative and challenging career that offers opportunities for career advancement and attractive salaries. Factors such as location, company size, industry, and certifications all play a role in determining a hardware design engineer’s salary. Interested individuals should pursue relevant education and certifications to maximize their career potential and earn a competitive salary.

How to Increase Your Salary as a Hardware Design Engineer

salary increases as a hardware design engineer

Hardware design engineering is one of the most lucrative fields in the engineering industry. With advancements in technology, the demand for professionals in this field is on the rise. As a hardware design engineer, there are several ways to increase your salary and grow your career. In this article, we will explore the top four ways to boost your salary as a hardware design engineer.

1. Acquire More Qualifications

hardware design engineer with more qualifications

One of the most effective ways to increase your salary potential is by acquiring more qualifications. As a hardware design engineer, you can get certified in areas such as FPGA design, digital circuit design, and VLSI design. These certifications will not only increase your knowledge and skills but also improve your chances of landing better-paying jobs. Many companies prefer to hire employees with extra qualifications, making you a more valuable asset in the job market.

2. Gain Experience

hardware design engineer with experience

Another excellent way to increase your salary as a hardware design engineer is to gain more experience. Employers often pay higher salaries to experienced engineers who can solve complex problems and have a deeper understanding of the hardware design process. You can gain experience by taking on challenging projects or working on different types of hardware design projects. Additionally, you can seek mentorship from experienced hardware design engineers or participate in industry events to learn from other professionals in the field.

3. Negotiate Your Salary

salary negotiation

Negotiation is a crucial skill for hardware design engineers looking to increase their salary. You should be prepared to ask for a higher salary when starting a new job or at your annual performance review. Research the average salary for hardware design engineers in your area and use this information to negotiate a higher salary. Make sure to highlight your qualifications, skills, and experience when making your case for a salary increase. Additionally, be prepared to provide evidence of your contributions to the company in terms of increased productivity, improved quality, and cost savings.

4. Stay Up-to-Date with Industry Trends

hardware design engineer keeping up with trends

The hardware engineering industry is constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies is vital for career growth and salary increases. Attend industry conferences, read trade publications, and join professional organizations to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field. You can also take courses and workshops to learn new skills and broaden your knowledge base. By staying informed about new technologies and trends, you can position yourself as an expert and increase your value to potential employers.

In conclusion, there are several ways to increase your salary as a hardware design engineer. By acquiring more qualifications, gaining experience, negotiating your salary, and staying up-to-date with industry trends, you can boost your salary potential and grow your career in the hardware engineering industry. Remember to take charge of your career and continuously strive to learn new skills and improve your value as an engineer.

Future Outlook for Hardware Design Engineer Salaries

Future Outlook for Engineering Salary

Hardware design engineers are responsible for designing, testing, and developing electronic equipment and devices. Their jobs combine both creative design and technical expertise to produce cutting-edge technology. The demand for hardware design engineers is expected to remain strong as technology continues to advance in the 21st century. In this article, we will discuss the future outlook for hardware design engineer salaries.

1. Technological Advancements Will Increase Demand

Technology Advancements

Technological advancements do not show any signs of slowing down, and this is great news for hardware design engineers. With companies competing to design and develop the latest technology, demand for experienced hardware design engineers is expected to increase. As new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G networks become more prevalent, hardware design employment opportunities will blossom. As such, the number of hardware design engineers needed in the workforce will continue to grow.

2. The Average Salaries of Hardware Design Engineers Will Increase

Salary Increase

As demand for hardware design engineers increases, so will the average salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the median annual salary for computer hardware engineers is $117,220. As many industries such as computer and electronic product manufacturing, and research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences fields, pay top dollar for this skill set, there is a potential for experienced engineers to earn a salary above the national median. This upward trend in an engineer’s income is likely to continue as the demand for talented hardware design engineers grows.

3. Industry Investment in Research and Development Will Increase

Research and Development

Research and development (R&D) projects relating to new technology need the knowledge and skills of hardware design engineers. Companies, therefore, invest in research and development to remain competitive in their respective markets. With greater investment in these R&D projects, there is an increase in demand for hardware design engineers. Consequently, this increase in demand will result in increased salaries of hardware design engineers.

4. Remote Work is Encouraging Diversity in Hiring

Remote Work Diversity in Hiring

The COVID-19 Pandemic not only changed the workplace landscape but also aided in creating a more diverse workforce. One of the industries that have been positively impacted is the hardware design industry. Companies can now hire hardware design engineers from all over the world and work collaboratively online. As such, companies are encouraged to hire a more diverse workforce. The experienced engineers will also get to work on high-level projects without moving from where they are. The result is a richer skill set in a remote workforce, which can command higher salaries as talent is recognized and duly compensated.

5. Gender and Race Pay Gap May Disappear in the Future

Gender and Race Pay Gap

A study conducted by the American Association of University Women found that female engineers earn an average of just 82% of what their male peers do in the United States. Minorities, on the other hand, also grapple with a gender and race pay gap. However, because remote work eliminates the need for relocation and broadens the hiring pool, making it more diverse, companies may begin to pattern their compensation packages without biased factors. This change is highly likely to decrease the gender and race pay gap in the future.


Engineering Design

Hardware design engineering is an in-demand profession catalyzed by technological advancements. As the world develops, hardware design engineers must update their skills to remain relevant to the sector. With remote work, gender and pay gap may fade as companies move towards a richer diversity in a remote workforce. The future outlook for hardware design engineer salaries is positive. The increase in demand for hardware design engineers’ skills, as well as investments in research and development on technologies such as artificial intelligence and 5G networks, will drive growth in this field. Consequently, the increasing salaries of hardware design engineers can be expected to keep pace with the demand for their skills.

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