In 2023, industries and businesses constantly search for new ways to develop and improve. Millions of devices use specific technologies and systems to improve speed, functionality, efficiency and user interaction. These systems are named embedded systems and are developed rapidly to meet the demand for devices that contain microprocessors, sensors and other hardware components. Experts in embedded systems, like embedded systems engineers, are shaping how our technology interacts with us.
Embedded systems engineers contribute to designing, developing, implementing and troubleshooting embedded systems to enable technological advances. From the growth of wireless connectivity to the enhanced functionality of consumer electronics, embedded system engineers have participated in most tech advancements.
But how do embedded systems engineers help technology advance? What do embedded systems engineers do? This guide will answer these questions and explore what embedded systems are and their roles and responsibilities to give you an understanding of what embedded system engineers do. We will also explore what qualifications, experience and skills embedded systems engineers need and their career progression opportunities.
Getting to Know Embedded Systems
Since the development of the Apollo Guidance Computer in the 1960s, which was designed to provide essential calculations from its collected data, embedded systems have become included in numerous everyday devices. These systems are incredibly popular, with the market predicted to reach 250 billion dollars by 2032.
From microwaves and heat systems to traffic lights and card readers, this technology contributes to our technological future.
Embedded systems are computer systems comprised of specific software and hardware designed for a purpose within a more extensive system. Typically, they constitute a combination of hardware like sensors, microprocessors, actuators, memory and communication interfaces. However, this can differ depending on the role these programable operating systems are designed for.
Data collection, algorithm formulation, temperature control and traffic control are only a small number of purposes of embedded systems.
Types of Embedded Systems
Real-time embedded systems: These systems are usually designed to deliver outputs within a specific time frame rather than providing data after events. Healthcare is an industry that heavily relies on real-time embedded systems to monitor current patient activity.
Mobile embedded systems: In 2023, most of our favourite devices are mobile embedded systems (mobiles, portable game consoles, laptops). These systems are all small and easily portable devices.
Standalone embedded systems: Like mobile embedded systems, standalone systems are not reliant on a larger system. While mobile embedded systems are small and portable, standalone systems like microwaves and washing machines.
Network embedded systems: These systems can only operate through web server communication. This could include wired or wireless connections. ATMs, home security systems and POS systems are all examples of this type of embedded system.
Examples of embedded systems
Microwaves: Embedded systems act as command devices that receive and interpret instructions from the microwave keypad. These systems then control cooking time, temperature, power levels and other aspects through the embedded system’s sensors.
Gaming consoles: Embedded systems are responsible for managing and controlling many components. For gaming, embedded systems contain GPUs for graphics processing, RAM chips for game storage, CPUs for game interactions and logic and many more hardware components.
Air conditioning: Embedded systems use microprocessors or microcontrollers to control the air conditioning system. This enables data to be received from air conditioning control systems (remotes). This data is processed, and the embedded system uses this information and other data from the temperature sensors to formulate control algorithms. This programming allows the system to alter the operation of fans and compressors to provide the correct temperature.
The Basics of Embedded Systems Engineering
An embedded systems engineer designs, develops, and installs embedded systems that are integrated into different products and devices. They implement embedded systems' hardware and software components to ensure they amalgamate correctly to perform specific functions. These positions require a particular skill set to develop the required firmware.
Though other jobs like embedded software engineering are similar in their overarching aims, embedded systems engineers are specialists in the lifestyle of the systems they work on. System engineers must be able to see the bigger picture of the embedded system, from development for a specific purpose to manufacturing and integration. They aim to translate the client's requirements into a system requirement specification, meaning they must communicate well with other teams in embedded systems.
Embedded Systems Engineer Responsibilities
So, what do embedded systems engineers do? Jobs and responsibilities of embedded systems engineers vary depending on seniority and sector. Typically, an embedded system engineer’s responsibilities would include:
- Researching the equipment and software necessary for designing, developing and implementing systems
- Designing embedded systems while taking into account the purpose of that embedded system
- Create design goals, monitor issues and work to deadlines
- Developing an efficient embedded system that improves a current design advances new technology
- Developing the software and hardware to support the embedded systems in its purpose
- Testing embedded systems to ensure they are reliable and perform the desired function
- Analysing the efficiency of system resources
- Debugging, testing and troubleshooting systems to ensure they function in the intended way
- Providing post-product support when embedded systems are complete
- Supporting team members with technical issues regarding the embedded systems or the implementation period
How to Become an Embedded Systems Engineer
Becoming an embedded systems engineer requires high skill and sector specialism. Working with embedded systems, code, hardware, and specialist programs requires a solid educational background and relevant skillset. But what are the exact qualifications, experience and skills you need to pursue this career?
The qualifications required to become an embedded systems engineer vary depending on job level and industry. The standard qualification that companies desire is a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science, embedded systems or another related discipline. A master's degree in a relevant subject or graduating from a specialist school may appeal more to employers if it’s coupled with relevant experience.
While some employers will accept equivalent experience rather than a specified degree, it’s becoming more common to require both degrees and experience. Some university institutions will offer a placement year to enable you to gain practical embedded systems engineering experience, such as interning with a business.
This will provide you with the practical and theoretical aspects of studying. Degree apprenticeships also provide the ability to achieve the required qualifications and experience that an embedded systems engineer needs.
Required Technical Experience
Along with the qualifications and general experience required for this position, most embedded systems engineer jobs expect you to have tried your hand at or specialised in specific tech and systems relevant to the job. The level of expertise in each skill differs depending on the seniority of the position.
Generally, the experience required for an embedded systems engineer includes:
- Experience or knowledge of the development and life cycles of embedded systems
- Experience in programming/ writing software in C, C++, or both
- A strong understanding of operating systems and experience in embedded operating systems (Linux)
- Knowledge and understanding of software and hardware architecture
- Experience in troubleshooting and debugging systems
- Familiarity with software configuration and management tools
- A solid understanding of internet-based appliances and technologies
Employers of embedded systems engineers expect specific qualifications and experience. However, while having the relevant qualifications and experience is incredibly important for the role, possessing related soft skills like adaptability and the ability to work in a team is necessary to complete the practical aspects of a career in embedded systems.
The essential soft skills of embedded system engineers include:
- Adaptability skills
- Troubleshooting and problem-solving skills
- Ability to work to deadlines and follow designs or briefs
- Strong communication skills
- Excellent written and verbal skills
- Ability to work across other teams in embedded systems
- Able to work in a fast-paced environment
- Strong research and documentation skills
- A passion for all things technology and technological development
- A drive to learn and develop
- Ability to find a balance between perfection and progress
What Does an Embedded Engineer’s Career Path Look Like?
As embedded systems are currently found in many devices, technologies and industries, embedded systems engineers are in high demand across sectors. This will only continue with the desire for technology to become more intelligent and more interactive with us. Because of this, the need for these skilled individuals currently surpasses the number of embedded systems engineers, which means that these professionals are incredibly valuable.
Specialising in embedded systems engineering can enable you to advance to more senior positions or work in different sectors. Usually, there are three levels of jobs for embedded systems engineers, progressing in seniority. These include entry-level, junior-level and senior-level positions.
What sectors can embedded systems engineers work in?
Embedded systems engineer jobs are found in numerous fields due to increased industries using micro-processors in their technologies. The constant development of these areas translates to more embedded systems.
You can work in one of the most varied industry bases if you are a qualified embedded systems engineer. The sheer volume of devices containing embedded systems to reduce errors, optimise systems and interpret real-time data means qualified system engineers can access more than one sector.
The most popular industries for embedded systems engineer jobs are:
- Medical science
- Consumer electronics
Final Thoughts on Embedded Systems Engineers
The role of Embedded Systems Engineers stands at the forefront of technological innovation in 2023. As industries rapidly evolve and devices become more sophisticated, the demand for experts in embedded systems continues to soar. From the early days of the Apollo Guidance Computer to the present, where embedded systems permeate everyday devices, these engineers have played a pivotal role in shaping our technological landscape.
As technology advances, so does the career path for Embedded Systems Engineers. The demand for these professionals exceeds the current supply, making them highly valuable in the job market. Career progression opportunities range from entry-level positions to more senior roles, allowing individuals to specialise in different sectors or advance within their chosen industry.
Embedded Systems Engineers will continue to play a pivotal role in future technological advancements. Their expertise in developing and implementing embedded systems ensures that devices, appliances, and systems operate seamlessly, contributing to the ongoing evolution of technology. As industries continue to embrace embedded technologies, these engineers will remain indispensable, playing a key role in driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the embedded systems space.
Specialists in Embedded Systems Recruitment
At Amoria Bond, we aim to progress lives everywhere. We are committed to elevating our client's businesses and the lives of our candidates. Our expert consultants are committed to securing roles for embedded systems professionals. We are helping to support future technology development and encouraging the next generation of engineering talent through cutting-edge recruitment consultancy services globally.
Contact our specialist team today to explore our current embedded systems engineer vacancies and begin your career journey.