What Does a Computer Designer Do? (And How to Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 22, 2022 | Published May 8, 2022

Updated July 22, 2022

Published May 8, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're enthusiastic about computers and how they operate, a career as a computer designer may appeal to you. You may play a critical role in designing, developing and testing computer systems, software and hardware to meet the needs of clients or customers or your organization. Understanding this job and its typical requirements and responsibilities can assist you in determining whether it aligns with your professional interests and goals. In this article, we discuss the answer to "What does a computer designer do?" and provide a series of steps you can undertake to pursue this career.

What is a computer designer?

A computer designer handles the design and construction of computer systems and components. Certain designers may focus exclusively on one or more areas, such as software development, hardware engineering or programming. They may work for computer manufacturers, designing computer models, operating systems and programs to meet specific customer requirements. Certain computer designers work for businesses that provide these services to clients, and as a result, they develop customized systems that correspond to the clients' business objectives. Companies may refer to these specialists using various job titles, including:

  • Computer software engineer

  • Computer systems designer or engineer

  • Computer engineer

  • Software engineer

  • Hardware engineer

What does a computer designer do?

Before knowing the answer to the question, "What does a computer designer do?", it is essential to understand that the responsibilities of a computer designer vary according to their position. Organizations can define these professionals using a variety of job titles. Typical responsibilities include:

  • Consultation with clients or stakeholders to know their objectives and specifications

  • Developing computer programs to meet the requirements of stakeholders

  • Creating software by utilizing a variety of programming languages

  • Running demo tests to ensure computers or systems operate effectively

  • Creating user training manuals

  • Providing technical assistance and diagnosing issues when necessary

  • Conducting research and remaining informed about industry trends and changes

  • Using technological innovation knowledge to create new products or improve existing ones

How to become a computer designer

Often, becoming a computer designer requires that you meet specific qualifications. If you're considering a career as a computer designer, the following steps can help you get started:

1. Earn your bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree in a relevant field is the minimum educational requirement for this profession. These degree programs may last up to four years. Consider pursuing a degree in computer science, information technology or computer engineering. These programs' coursework equips you with the technical knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in this field.

Computer science and computer engineering programs cover topics associated with the development and integration of computer hardware and software. Computer science is a broad discipline that teaches various aspects of computing, such as programming, data analysis and computer architecture. A computer engineering degree program frequently provides more practical experience in designing and developing electronics and other computer system components. Computer designers can specialize in various areas of design, so when choosing a degree program, note your interests and abilities.

Related: 14 Computer Science Salaries and Jobs (With Common Duties)

2. Gain relevant experience

Throughout your degree program, you can pursue internships to gain experience in this field. An internship enables you to put what you've learned in class into practice, frequently under the direction and supervision of experienced professionals. Acquainting yourself with these organizations' day-to-day operations and tasks can help prepare you for work in this field. Internships are available throughout the school year and summer, with varying application requirements and program durations. Use online job boards or your school's career services center to locate these opportunities.

Related: Important Benefits of Gaining Experience From an Internship

Apart from allowing you to practice and improve your technical skills, internships enable you to develop contacts within the industry. If you perform well during your internship and impress your supervisor, they may consider you for future full-time job opportunities. Maintain relationships with those you meet during your internships, as they may connect you with future job opportunities or provide valuable career advice. Your internship can assist you in determining your interest in this career or work environment.

Related: What Is Relevant Experience? Definition and Examples

3. Pursue certifications in your field of expertise

Certain employers prefer employees who possess relevant professional certifications, and you can conduct job searches to determine what credentials are in demand in your field. There are certifications available for specific programming languages, software, hardware and specific skills. Acquiring these certifications shows your expertise as a computer designer and demonstrates that your skills and knowledge remain current with industry trends and standards. Conduct job searches or consult with professional contacts to determine which certifications may benefit your career.

You can pursue certification at any period in your career, and they may require you to update your certifications regularly, depending on the requirements of your certifications. Due to the rapid pace of technological advancement, it is essential to maintain an awareness of the tools and skills necessary in your industry to identify beneficial training and certification opportunities. Several relevant certifications for computer designers include:

  • CompTIA A+

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

  • CompTIA Server+

  • Cisco Certified Technician (CCT)

  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)

4. Consider getting an advanced degree

Earning a master's degree can help you advance your career or increase your earning potential. You can enrol in master's programs after completing your undergraduate studies or after gaining several years of professional experience in your field. Computer science, computer engineering or software engineering are all relevant disciplines, depending on your interests, skills and desired roles.

The coursework in these programs teaches you more advanced research, theory and application skills and knowledge. You can research job openings in this field to ascertain employers' typical educational requirements or preferences, or you can seek advice and insight from members of your professional network. A master's degree program typically lasts about two years and is available online or in person. The requirements vary by school but may include:

  • Possessing a bachelor's degree from an accredited program in a relevant field

  • Providing a transcript and adhering to specific grade point average requirements

Related: Master's vs Bachelor's Degree: What's the Difference?

What is the work environment like for computer designers?

Typically, computer designers work in offices, where they spend most of their time at a computer and desk. Apart from working in an office alongside their colleagues, they may also find remote work opportunities. They may find work with computer manufacturers or consulting firms that design and implement computer systems on a contract basis.

Organizations employ computer designers full-time, meaning they work at least 40 hours per week. They may require them to work extended hours, including nights and weekends when working with clients or on projects, to meet relevant deadlines or resolve issues prior to delivery. They may occasionally require providing technical support or troubleshooting services, which means they may work on-call to assist users.

Related: 18 People Skills for a Productive Work Environment

Essential skills for a computer designer

A career as a computer designer requires a wide variety of technical skills, which these professionals acquire through formal education and training and on-the-job experience. They may find it beneficial to pursue continuing education opportunities to ensure their skills remain relevant as the technology industry advances. Technical skills such as software and hardware development and testing procedures, programming languages, mathematics and electrical engineering are all examples of relevant technical skills. These professionals may also develop various soft skills as part of their job. These abilities reflect how they handle their responsibilities.

The following are some valuable soft skills for computer designers:

Problem-solving skills

These professionals may use their problem-solving abilities to identify and resolve issues prior to product launches or client deliveries during the design and development process. This ability entails evaluating each situation and potential solutions to determine which one best meets their needs. Computer designers frequently test their systems, software or hardware multiple times during this process to ensure they function as intended and meet the expectations of their stakeholders. Depending on their role, they may also use this skill to provide technical support to clients following delivery.

Related: Problem-solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Creativity skills

When designing and developing computer components, computer designers frequently require creative abilities. Designers can use their creativity to examine situations from various angles to generate new or innovative ideas. They may reflect on previous work and look for ways to improve or modify it to meet the specific needs of their stakeholders. Creativity promotes experimentation, allowing computer designers to test and optimize new methods and techniques during the design and development process.

Communication skills

Computer designers frequently collaborate with other computer and information technology professionals to develop hardware, software and computer systems. These professionals' effective verbal and written communication skills enable them to convey information to colleagues, stakeholders and clients. A critical component of this ability is the ability to adapt their language or style to their audience's needs. For instance, organizations may require computer designers to communicate complex or technical information to clients who lack a computer science or engineering background.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Research skills

Throughout their careers, computer designers employ research skills for various purposes. They may research to determine the best design, development and testing methods during projects. Computer designers can assess their options and determine which ones best meet their needs by utilizing trusted or reliable resources and data. Because of the rapid pace of change in their industry, they also rely on their research skills to stay informed of new advancements or innovations that can help them improve their skills and knowledge and ultimately help them create better software, hardware or systems.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles