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Career Path: How to Become an Embedded Engineer

You have chosen your career and now are ready to go down the path of becoming an Embedded Engineer. As technology advances, manufacturers are placing software into the electronics of vehicles, appliances, toys and other products to enhance the user's experience. These embedded systems can be utilized to control something as simple as lighting or as complex as guided missiles. Embedded Engineers can be found working in sectors such as aviation, automotive, consumer electronics and medical science.

Getting Through the Door

To land an entry-level job as an embedded...more

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Career Path: How to Become an Embedded Engineer

You have chosen your career and now are ready to go down the path of becoming an Embedded Engineer. As technology advances, manufacturers are placing software into the electronics of vehicles, appliances, toys and other products to enhance the user's experience. These embedded systems can be utilized to control something as simple as lighting or as complex as guided missiles. Embedded Engineers can be found working in sectors such as aviation, automotive, consumer electronics and medical science.

Getting Through the Door

To land an entry-level job as an embedded engineer, you will need to have amassed some key skills. Learning the C programming language and its concepts is fundamental. It is recommended by experts in the field to start practicing on a small microcontroller kit. Being familiar with different architectures of embedded systems, as well as microprocessors, interrupts and memory organization is important. You also need to know about interfacing peripherals, version control, compilers, text editors for writing code and assemblers to convert code, debuggers, libraries and simulators.

Other technical skills that can give you an advantage include knowledge of IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) such as Eclipse and Keil along with the programming language Matlab. Some minimum requirements that you will need to qualify as an entry- or junior-level embedded engineer include:

  • Knowledge of embedded software development
  • Familiarity with embedded hardware systems and electronics schematics
  • Can design and implement embedded software using languages like C and C++
  • Experience with modeling, simulation and debugging
  • Works well with others in a team environment
  • Good communication and problem-solving skills
  • Motivated and willing to learn

Degrees and Experience

To land that first job as an embedded engineer, employers look for you to have at least a bachelor's in software engineering, computer engineering, electronics engineering or computer science. Companies may also seek interns who are earning their undergrad or graduate degrees to learn and develop needed skills while on the job. Experience with operating systems such as Windows and Linux is helpful in this field. Embedded engineers should also be aware of microprocessor architectures and digital logic.

Working as a Junior-Level Engineer

As a junior-level engineer, you are tasked with designing, developing and modifying the embedded software. You will be experienced with real-time operating systems (RTOS), as well as using debuggers. A junior-level engineer will do reverse engineering and analysis of software. You will implement scalable and sustainable embedded code for a company's new and existing systems. You can also apply command and control interfaces between embedded systems along with analyzing test data for improvements to existing controls and designs.

Moving Up the Ranks

You have now obtained more experience as an embedded engineer and are ready to move up in your career. Being able to communicate and collaborate with others is very important when it comes to completing projects successfully. You will be working around a team of very experienced developers and asking for help is a wonderful way to gain valuable insight. You must also ratchet up your troubleshooting skills in order to identify complex problems and come up with solutions.

Advance Your Career: How to Become a Senior Embedded Engineer

Senior Embedded Engineers have a leadership role and will be responsible for the design, as well as the development of embedded applications. They are able to identify and implement software enhancements that increase efficiency. Presenting status on development efforts to management, as well as performing root cause analysis of software issues are also part of their role.

Study the Core Fields

To be an expert embedded engineer, you have to be skilled in your field. This involves being aware of the latest technologies in software development and testing tools. Gaining more experience with scripting languages, digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms and implementation is important. Senior embedded engineers are able to multitask and take ownership of the tasks at hand. Being adept in operating systems like VxWorks, Linux and Windows is a must. You can also boost your résumé by getting an advanced degree.

Invest in Yourself

You have proven your expertise in the field as an embedded engineer. You understand PLC programming, SoC platforms, unified modeling language (UML) methodologies and firmware development. You can provide technical support when and where needed. Having excellent analytical, conceptual, time management and communication skills is something you possess. A good understanding of agile software development is important. To gain an advantage, employers also like to see experience with communication protocols such as TCP/IP and Bluetooth, as well as with debugging using IDEs and network analyzers.

Don't Stop at Embedded Engineer

With a massive push to connect devices to the Internet for the creation of the IoT (Internet of Things), you can further accelerate your career by getting more adept with software development. Expand your knowledge by taking advantage of educational opportunities while on the job. There are organizations where you can gain valuable insight like the IEEE Computer Society and the IEE (Institute of Electrical Engineers). This can further accelerate your goals by helping you keep up with industry trends and building a strong network of skilled individuals that may offer access to potential employers.

Embedded Engineer Job Description

We’ve done the research for you. After evaluating numerous job descriptions, we’ve written our own representative job description for a mid-level embedded engineer with between two and five years of relevant experience.

As an embedded engineer, you will design, develop and modify the embedded software. You can write code for microcontrollers and microprocessors. You are also able to work independently, as well as efficiently in a team environment on critical projects to get them done. Our embedded engineers are self-motivated and display leadership qualities. We welcome diversity and encourage healthy debate and discussion.

What We Need Your Help With

  • Designing, developing, testing and debugging and maintaining embedded software
  • Developing algorithms using object-oriented techniques
  • Ability to define software architectures for embedded devices
  • Perform root cause analysis of software errors and make corrections
  • Establish architectural principles and select design patterns
  • Generate design documents from requirements
  • Understand common communications protocols and basic electrical design principles
  • Mentor team members on the appropriate application
  • Troubleshoot issues using test equipment like digital multimeters (DMMs), logic analyzers and oscilloscopes
  • Allocate resources to complete projects and create detailed plans

What We Look For

  • 3+ years of embedded software development
  • 4+ years of professional programming
  • Experience with real-time operating system
  • Experience with requirements documentation and system engineering
  • Experience with development tools like IAR/Keil and Git version control system
  • Experience with unit and system testing
  • Experience testing in CANoe and CANalyzer simulation devices
  • Knowledge of UNIX/Linux environments and embedded Linux
  • Proficient in software design, analysis and programming C++ or C
  • B.S. in computer science, electrical engineering or computer electrical engineering

These Would Also Be Nice

  • Experience with board bring-up using Linux Kernel (GNU or Android OS)
  • Experience with IC firmware for cell, WiFi, Bluetooth and IoT protocols
  • Experience with device driver development
  • Experience with Matlab and Python
  • Familiarity with Restful APIs and ARM CPUs
  • Knowledge of WiFi hardware and software requirements

Senior Embedded Engineer Career Paths: Where To Go From Here

With the rise of embedded systems being put into devices and products, your expertise is needed. Companies like Google are coming up with intelligent transport systems that can increase the safety and comfort of drivers, there are autonomous vehicles implemented with technologies like LiDAR, and smart agriculture and healthcare systems are being studied. You have obtained 10 years of experience and are ready for a new challenge.

Senior Embedded Engineers may work as a Lead Software Engineer where their responsibilities include building and testing software programs, creating detailed software development plans, assigning tasks and coaching development staff. There's the position of Senior Software Architect who is tasked with ensuring architectural consistency and integrity and across the entire product development cycle. Senior embedded engineers can choose the role of an IT Director in which they are tasked with directing and managing IT operations, coming up with effective strategies and building relationships with vendors and clients. The position of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) will lead the efforts of the tech development in a company, conduct technical reviews, guide resource allocations and make strategic decisions, as well as conduct research and generate reports. You can also select the role of a Chief IT Architect, a Software Engineering/Development Director, VP of Engineering, a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and a Chief Operations Officer (COO).

The positions listed generally require a bachelor's degree with a master's being an employer's preferred choice, such as an MBA in some cases. Managerial and industry certifications along with years of expertise in the field are a must-have on this journey. You will also need to possess not only superb communication skills but be able to work independently, lead effectively and make important decisions for the company as a whole.

C++

C++ is an object-oriented language derived from C, and invented by Bjarne Stroustrup, while working at AT&T's Bell Labs. It is widely used for systems-level programming, and building applications on Windows and various Unix operating systems (Lin...

C

C is a widely used low-level, static-typed, compiled computer language known for its efficiency. Developed in the late sixties, C has become one of the most widely used languages of all time. It provides direct access to memory and due to its de...

PHP

PHP is a widely-used open-source scripting language that has seen wide use in web application development. PHP code must be processed by an interpreter like the Zend Engine. With a strong open-source community and large adoption world-wide, PHP ...

Java is a statically-typed, cross-platform language. It is concurrent, class-based, and object-oriented. It has minimal implementation dependencies and compiled Java code can run on all platforms that support Java without the need for recompilat...

.NET is a framework created by Microsoft that consists of common language runtime and its own class library. Its key benefits are managing code at execution in the form of memory management, thread management and remoting. It also has added safet...

Python is an object-oriented programming language notable for its clarity, power and flexibility. Python is an interpreted language, meaning that an interpreter reads and runs the code directly, rather than compiling down into static lower level c...

JavaScript is a scripting language, originally implemented in web browsers, but now widely used server-side via the Node.js platform. It supports a runtime system based on numerical, Boolean and string values, with built-in, first-class support f...

HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, is a markup language derived from SGML, used to describe web sites and applications to be run in a common web browser. Invented in 1993 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, HTML documents are broken up into HTML elements, w...

CSS

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) describes how HTML elements are displayed. Along with JavaScript and HTML, CSS is one of the cornerstones of front-end web development. CSS separates presentation and content, allowing styles to be defined and used t...

Top industries hiring Embedded Engineers

Electronics

The Electronics Industry has grown into a global industry with a value of billions of dollars. Most commonly when referring to the electronics industry it is understood the industry is consumer electronics which produces items used in everyday lif...

Aerospace

The aerospace industry involves designing and building machinery in the space industry, including parts, missiles and rockets. As of 2015, the aerospace industry was worth over $180.3 billion, with the majority of its net worth coming from comm...

Manufacturing

Manufacturing involves creating merchandise through various forms of labor or machinery, including processing and formulation. There are many different types of manufacturing, including agile, flexible, just-in-time and lean manufacturing. Othe...

Robotics

Robotics combines the fields of mechanical engineering, computer science and electrical engineering into one discipline. Engineers are responsible for the design, construction and operation of robots as well as the sensory feedback, information...

Energy

The energy industry is composed of companies that produce and distribute energy supplies. It includes businesses that drill and refine oil and gas, those that explore and develop oil and gas reserves and companies that provide power utilities. ...

eCommerce

The retail landscape has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Retail was once a brick-and-mortar industry, comprised of small, independently owned-and-operated businesses and large chain stores with multiple outposts throughout the c...

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