How to Become an Embedded Software Engineer


Career Path Guide

To become an embedded software engineer, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for it:


• You are passionate about working on groundbreaking technology

• You love to solve difficult technical problems

• You have an education in computer engineering or a related field

• You have excellent coding skill in C

• You are able to read electronics schematics and troubleshoot problems


Those who become embedded software engineers typically have a strong technical background in software engineering and have basic skills in electronics. They also have good analytical, problem solving, and communication skills, are able to work collaboratively in a team environment, and are capable of coming up to speed with a new team quickly.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an embedded software engineer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Educational Requirements

To become an embedded software engineer, you will likely need at least an undergraduate degree in one of the following fields:


• Computer Science

• Software Engineering

• Computer Engineers

• Electronics Engineering


Some employers may prefer to hire candidates with a graduate degree in one of the above fields, or graduates that have specialized in Embedded Systems Design or Engineering. Some employers employ embedded software engineers with no university education, if they have many years of experience in the field and a resume that demonstrates the necessary skills and qualities.


Those that are employed without an appropriate degree typically have to work as an apprentice or a paid intern until they demonstrate that they have acquired the necessary competence. 





General Job Description

Embedded software engineers are responsible for designing, developing and implementing the software that is built into wireless phones, MP3 players, vehicles, appliances and other products.



Typical Duties of the Job

• Design, develop, debug, evaluate, modify and optimize embedded software

• Analyze the requirements for an embedded system and determine which requirements have a software component

• Write software functions that are translated from software requirements

• May write or code software functions by directly entering the software instructions

• May use automated software engineering tools that generate software

• Ensure the embedded software will accomplish its designed goals by conferring with engineers from other disciplines, such as electrical

• May provide technical guidance to the team to ensure schedules and objectives are met

• Stays abreast of technical knowledge and transfer to fellow team members



Who Employs Them?

Embedded software engineers are employed on a part-time, full-time or contractual basis by a variety of small, medium sized and large organizations, including:


• Companies that devise embedded software for inclusion in their products

• Companies that devise embedded software for inclusion in other products

• Telecommunications companies

• Electronics companies

• Software companies

• Hardware companies

• Production equipment companies

• Automation and control solutions companies

• Software marketing and distribution companies

• Communications Service Providers (CSP’s)

• Network policy control companies

• Engineering companies that produce technology products, such as Aerospace Engineering companies

• Consulting companies that provide software related services

• Colleges and universities





Work Environment for Embedded Software Engineers

Hours: Most embedded software engineers work normal weekday business hours. They may have to work overtime, including evenings and weekends, in order to complete projects and meet deadlines. Some embedded software engineers may also work part-time hours.


Setting: Most embedded software engineers spend the majority of their day in an office environment stationed at a computer terminal or attending meetings. They may be required to travel in order to attend and give briefings and obtain user requirements. They typically work closely with other software and hardware professionals, such as Architects, Technical Leads, and QA Engineers.



Skills Needed to Be Successful

To be effective in a career as an embedded software engineer, you need to posses a certain set of technical skills. These hard skills will help you make the most of your career by allowing you to perform your job duties with competence, and effectively handle unforeseen challenges in your work.


Many of these skills are also in high demand with organizations that employ embedded software engineers; you will see many of these skills, or variations of them, listed on job postings.


• Excellent coding skill in hardware-related C programming

• Experience doing low-level optimization in C assembly

• Experience with Git or other source code management system

• Experience with embedded Linux kernel configuration and device driver development

• Skilled in specialized techniques for embedded programming, such as debouncing switches

• Able to read electronics schematics and troubleshoot problems

• Able to use an oscilloscope, multimeter, soldering iron and other basic electronics equipment

• Skilled in Java and Android development 

• Able to use Perl or Python for scripting, for example when modifying simple text files

• Have a solid understanding of the software development and project management life cycle



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has 'embedded software engineer' postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Average Salary Level

The income level of embedded software engineers can vary depending on their level of education, their level of experience, the size and type of their employer, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many other factors.


Embedded Software Engineer Salary - Canada: According to the 2014 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing), Albertans working in the Software Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $83,282 per year. The mean wage for this group is $40.69 per hour. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (June 30, 2019).


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary level of American workers in the Computer Software Engineers, Applications occupational group is $87,900 per year.



Similar Occupational Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to embedded software engineer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Applications Programmer

Computer Programmer

Electronics Engineer

Hardware Engineer

Software Designer




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an embedded software engineer.


Occupations in Alberta:Software Engineer.” (March 27, 2014). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 13, 2019.

Computer and Information Technology:Software Developers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 13, 2019.

Careers:How to Become an Embedded Geek.” Jack G. Ganssle (n.d.). Oregon State University website. Retrieved November 13, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Embedded Software Engineer

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming an embedded software engineer can be found on the following pages:


Computer Engineering Scholarships

Computer Science Scholarships

Software Engineering Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study in Our System

Studying one of the university majors listed below will serve as an excellent educational foundation for this career. 


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