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Working as a Computer or Software Engineer [NOC 2147 & 2173]

Job Description

Computer engineers [NOC 2147] design and create computers and related hardware components. You may also design and develop information and communication system networks.

As a computer engineer you perform the following duties:

  • Analyze users’ requirements for new products
  • Design computer and telecommunications hardware such as circuit boards and monitors
  • Design and develop information system network architecture
  • Develop and conduct tests to make sure the new designs and components function as expected
  • Oversee the manufacturing process
  • Establish and maintain relationships with suppliers and clients
  • May lead and co-ordinate teams of engineers, technologists, technicians

Software engineers [NOC 2173] design, develop and test software products for various uses.

As a software engineer you perform the following duties:

  • Analyze users’ requirements
  • Design and test software products or computer systems
  • Co-ordinate the development, installation, and operation of computer-based systems
  • Troubleshoot, upgrade and develop maintenance procedures for operating systems and applications
  • May lead and co-ordinate teams of information systems professionals

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for 2147 , WorkBC Career Profile for 2173Career Cruising (Profiles for Computer Hardware Engineer & Computer Software Engineer)

Industry Overview

Computer engineers: Job prospects are expected to be good. There are currently not enough new computer engineering graduates with the right mix of experience and skills to meet employment demand.

In British Columbia your job may not have a complete focus on hardware, but also work with processes, electrical engineering, and software implementation.

Employment trends depend on the industries that purchase hardware products. As such, your job opportunities may be affected by fluctuations in the economy or in specific sectors.

Computer engineering is a constantly changing field. It is important to update your skills throughout your career.

Software engineers: Job prospects are expected to be good.  Growth in the industry due to rapidly changing technologies, along with fewer graduates from software engineering programs, is causing a shortage of skilled professionals.

Prior work experience is valued by employers.  If you have co-op or internship experience, knowledge of the most current technology and the ability to work in a multi-disciplinary environment you will be in demand. Excellent communication skills also help your job prospects.

To meet the need for highly specialized skills, employers sometimes use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or ‘fast track’ channels in the immigration system to meet their needs.

The health care industry will increasingly need software engineers to design, and maintain safe and secure eHealth information systems.

Job Outlook in BC

Computer Engineers

job outlook in BC for computer engineers

Chart from WorkBC (NOC 2147)

Software Engineers

job outlook for software engineers

Chart from WorkBC (NOC 2173)

WorkBC provides job openings in BC regions from 2015-2025:

Region Expected # of
Job Openings
Average Annual Employment
Growth
Expected Increase
in Employment
Vancouver Island

  • Computer Engineers
  • Software Engineers
130
330
1.8%
2.5%
60
165
Lower Mainland / Southwest

  • Computer Engineers
  • Software Engineers
1,220
3,910
2.5%
2.7%
680
2,270
Thompson-Okanagan

  • Computer Engineers
  • Software Engineers
N/A
50
N/A
1.0%
N/A
15

You can learn more about working as a computer engineer or a computer software engineer in BC from:

Types of Employers

Computer engineers are employed throughout public and private sectors, such as:

  • computer and telecommunication hardware manufacturers
  • engineering, manufacturing and telecommunications firms
  • information technology consulting firms
  • government
  • education and research institutions
  • health care

Software engineers are employed by a variety of organizations including:

  • information technology consulting firms that provide software-related information technology services
  • information technology research and development firms
  • software product manufacturers
  • you may telecommute from a home office

You may also be self-employed.

Salary

In BC, the median annual salary for computer engineers is $85,572. The median annual salary for software engineers is $82,214. Earnings vary according to your level of education, experience and the type of company you work for.

If you are employed in a full-time job you may also receive benefits such as health and dental insurance, paid vacation and sick leave. Some companies also provide you with the use of a company car and annual profit-sharing or performance-based bonuses.

In its 2016 Report on Members’ Compensation and Benefits, Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia (formerly APEGBC) provided these salary figures:

Industry Mean Lower Quartile Median Upper
Quartile
High Technology $96,729 $74,000 $90,000 $120,000
High Tech Manufacturing $103,315 N/A $90,000 N/A
Product Development $102,274 $78,773 $95,150 $122,500
Research & Development $85,076 $64,500 $84,086 $97,115
Software Development $94,786 N/A $87,395 N/A
Systems Integration $93,438 N/A $95,500 N/A

Job Bank Canada provides hourly wages in BC Regions:

Computer Engineers (NOC 2147)

BC regions hourly wages for computer engineers

Software engineers (NOC 2173)

BC regions hourly wages for software engineers

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile, Career Cruising, Job Bank Canada, Wages ReportEngineers & Geoscientists British Columbia Report on Compensation and Benefits

Working Hours

You usually work an average of 5 days, Monday to Friday, totaling 40 hours per week. However, longer hours and overtime are often required to meet deadlines.

Skills, Education, and Experience

Skills

  • Curious
  • Aptitude for math and science
  • Logical and detail-oriented
  • Work well as part of a team
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills

Education and Experience

Computer engineers require:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or related field

You may also require:

  • Registration with the Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia (formerly APEGBC)
  • Past participation in an undergraduate co-op program
  • Master’s or doctoral degree in a related discipline
  • Network certification
  • Information Systems Professional (ISP) certification through the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals

 Software engineers require:

  • Bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science or related field

You may also require

  • Past participation in an undergraduate co-op program
  • Master’s or doctoral degree in a related discipline
  • Experience as a computer programmer
  • Information Systems Professional (ISP) certification through the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals

Source: WorkBC

Qualifications

There are no mandatory requirements for licensing or professional certification in order to work in entry level computer and software engineering positions.

However, you must be licensed by the Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia if you use the title “Engineer.” This allows you to approve engineering drawings and reports and to practise as a professional engineer (P.Eng.).

You are eligible for registration with Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia once you graduate from an accredited educational program, and after four years of supervised work experience in engineering. You must also pass a professional practice examination and complete the law and ethics seminar.

Internationally trained engineers:

You may qualify as a “Provisional Member” with the Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia. This designation provides member status to internationally trained engineering graduates if you have completed the academic, experience, professionalism, and residency requirements for registration as Professional Engineers.

For more information:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find different job titles.

For Computer Engineers, look for these related job titles (NOC 2147):

  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Fibre-optic Network Designer
  • Hardware Circuit Board Designer
  • Hardware Development Engineer
  • Network Test Engineer
  • Systems Designer – Hardware
  • Technical Architect – Hardware
  • Wireless Communications Network Engineer

For Software Engineers, look for these related job titles (NOC 2173):

  • Application Architect
  • Computer Software Engineer
  • Software Architect
  • Software Design Engineer
  • Software Testing Engineer
  • Systems Integration Engineer – Software
  • Technical Architect – Software
  • Telecommunications Software Engineer

Source: National Occupational Classification

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • BC Tech, Technology Guide (special issue of Business in Vancouver)
    Available at the Central Library, 380 EL3CBh
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “computer” or “software” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following guides:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for computer & engineering professionals in BC and Canada can provide you with information and assistance. Registration and fees may be required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue  for journals related to your profession.

Examples include:

  • Innovation / Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia
    Also available at VPL Central Library, 620.5 B86