How To Become an Embedded System Engineer in 7 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2021

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.

Embedded systems are present within a variety of devices to help the technology remain functional and reliable. As an embedded system engineer, you can work on these systems to ensure they provide a high-quality performance. If you're interested in pursuing a career that involves technology and engineering, then becoming an embedded system engineer may be a good choice for you. In this article, we provide a list of steps that describe how to become an embedded system engineer.

How to become an embedded system engineer

Here are the steps showing how to become an embedded system engineer:

1. Complete a university degree

Employers typically require that embedded system engineers have a bachelor's degree in a field related to electrical and computer engineering from a program that's accredited by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE). While completing your degree, you can learn the techniques and processes that embedded system engineers use frequently, like programming languages and software or hardware development.

It's common for software students to pursue internships while in college to help them improve their understanding of the field. It's beneficial for you to pursue an internship with an organisation in the technology industry to enhance your skills and gain firsthand experience in system engineering. Use online resources to find a company that hires interns or speak to the administration at your university to discuss potential internship opportunities.

Related: The Best Times to Apply for an Internship (Plus Tips From a University Career Coach)

2. Consider a speciality

Embedded system engineers have the chance to decide on the speciality they would like to pursue. Many industries require embedded system engineers to work on their hardware systems, so you can decide on which field to pursue a career in based on your interests and career goals. You may take courses that relate to each speciality, complete an independent study project or complete an internship in a field that you have an interest in pursuing. Here are the different industries where embedded system engineers can work:

  • Technology

  • Construction

  • Finance

  • Transportation

  • Manufacturing

  • Telecommunications

3. Gain relevant experience

Upon completing your bachelor's degree, you can apply to entry-level embedded system engineer positions. At the beginning of your career, you may gain experience in different industries until you find one that is the right fit for you. During this time, you can grow your skills and learn the common duties of an embedded system engineer.

Their duties often include programming an embedded system, reviewing the infrastructure within different embedded systems, offering technical help to team members and finding solutions to system issues. Embedded system engineers often work on a team of software and hardware professionals, so you can gain experience collaborating with other professionals to complete projects like configuring hardware systems or updating embedded systems.

4. Become a member of HKIE

After gaining experience, you might consider pursuing membership with the HKIE. By doing so, you can expand your network and validate your qualifications. Here are the qualifications that the HKIE requires for incoming members:

  • Associate member: To become an associate member, HKIE requires that you're at least 23 years old and currently possess a degree from an accredited university in an engineering or technology discipline. They also require that you have a minimum of three years of experience as an embedded system engineer.

  • Member: The HKIE allows individuals above the age of 25 that have a degree from an accredited university to become a member. They also require that you complete the Institution's Professional Assessment to show your knowledge of embedded systems and engineering principles.

  • Fellow: A fellow is a senior member that is at least 35 years old and has a degree from an accredited university. They also require that fellows achieve a leadership position where they provided expert knowledge to their workplace.

5. Pursue certification

Though employers may not require embedded system engineers to have certifications but getting certified may increase your chances of earning a higher salary or achieving career advancement. Certification may also help you increase your knowledge of system engineering processes and embedded systems. In Hong Kong, embedded system engineers can consider earning the following certifications:

  • CompTIA A+ Certification: All software professionals in entry-level positions may earn this internationally recognised certification that provides a deeper knowledge of fundamental technology concepts.

  • CompTIA Security+: This internationally recognised certification helps embedded system engineers better understand cybersecurity measures for embedded systems, which lowers the chances of devices being hacked or breached.

6. Expand your network

A professional network is a group of connections that you have within an industry. As you advance in your career, it's important to expand your network to include a wide variety of technology professionals. Growing your network may help you learn about opportunities that you may not be familiar with, and you may find an experienced embedded system engineer that can act as your mentor.

Consider joining a professional system engineering society, like the Hong Kong sector of the Institute of Industrial and System Engineers. Upon joining a society, consider attending events where you may meet other professionals. You may also create a profile on a professional networking website to meet other professionals with similar backgrounds and goals.

Related: How to Network Effectively (And Why It's Important)

7. Stay up to date on recent advancements

It's common for the technology and software within embedded systems to change frequently, due to advancing technology and research. It's important to remain aware of recent changes so that you can update and repair existing systems and create new systems using the latest technology. You can communicate with contacts in your network or read technology or hardware publications about embedded systems.

What are the duties of an embedded system engineer?

The specific duties of an embedded system engineer may vary depending on their industry. For example, system engineers in health care may work on automated medical screening systems, while a system engineer in finance may work on the cash deposit processes of an ATM. Here are the common responsibilities and tasks that embedded system engineers complete while working:

  • Develop embedded systems: They design embedded systems that contain the most recent technology advancements and system innovations.

  • Analyse risks: They analyse risks within an embedded system and work to create security measures and protocols to protect the information within it.

  • Test embedded systems: Before releasing an embedded system to clients, they perform numerous tests to check functionality, speed and reliability.

  • Identify areas of improvement: They often identify areas of improvement within an embedded system to improve performance and functionality. They may ask for user feedback to help spot elements that may require a system upgrade.

  • Create documentation: Typically, they document each part of the system development phase so that they can refer back to the documentation in the future when creating embedded systems.

  • Perform coding: Embedded system engineers create and test different codes to help systems function properly.

Key skills of embedded system engineers

Here are the skills that help embedded system engineers perform their duties successfully:

Teamwork

Embedded system engineers commonly work on a team of professionals to develop and configure embedded systems. Teamwork skills may ensure that all team members understand the goals and requirements of projects. By doing so, you may deliver high-quality technical solutions and project deliverables.

Related: 6 Common Interview Questions About Teamwork (With Answers)

Planning

Embedded system engineers may develop plans that involve short-term and long-term goals for maintaining embedded systems since these systems often last for several years. They often create plans during system development to develop durable systems that remain functional for long periods. They may perform testing to ensure that their systems are functional and reliable, and they can use the results of the test to plan potential issues and fixes.

Problem-solving

Embedded system engineers use problem-solving skills to find issues and repair embedded systems quickly. Often, embedded systems are an essential part of a workplace, so it's important that system engineers diagnose the issue and fix the problem quickly so that professionals can begin using the system again. For example, if a computer-controlled construction tool stops working, then a construction company may pause their operations for a certain period. This makes it important for embedded system engineers to resolve the issue quickly so that the embedded system works properly again.

They also often resolve issues related to security within an embedded system. It's common for embedded systems to experience hacks or security breaches. When this occurs, embedded system engineers use problem-solving skills to secure the system and save the data within it.

Related: How To Problem Solve with Steps, Techniques and Skills

Coding

Embedded systems often contain several types of code, so it's important that embedded system engineers are familiar with coding practices. They may create new code to help embedded systems perform new functions, or they can update existing code so that the systems perform properly. Since embedded system engineers typically have an in-depth understanding of a variety of coding languages, they may explain complex codes to other professionals that may be unfamiliar with coding.

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