The future of hardware engineers and tips on how to change careers from the IT industry.


  • Industry Information

The IT industry includes four fields: hardware, software, internet, and information processing services. Hardware engineers design the electronic circuits used in the hardware of electronic devices such as PCs and smartphones.

The IT industry is developing day by day, and in addition to personal computers, a wide variety of products are being converted to IT, including home appliances such as televisions, microwave ovens, and refrigerators, automobiles, and medical equipment. Since it can be predicted that this field will continue to grow in the future, some people may be considering a career change from the same IT industry.

In this issue, we will explain the future of the hardware industry and introduce the skills you should acquire as a hardware engineer, career paths, and tips for changing careers. If you are interested in learning more about the future prospects or considering a career change from other IT engineers, please refer to this article.

What is the hardware industry for hardware engineers?


The machines and equipment devices that you see are hardware. It is used in devices around computers, such as processing and storage devices, electronic circuit boards, and displays, and has a central role in supporting the operation of computers. In recent years, with the development of Iot, home appliances also fall into the category of hardware, and hardware products have become increasingly diversified.

Globally, companies such as Apple and Microsoft are classified in the hardware industry, and companies such as Hitachi, Ltd. and SONY are highly recognized in Japan. A wide variety of IT engineers are working in the hardware industry. Hardware engineers, who are in charge of designing electronic circuits and electronic devices for computers, are typical examples.

Since major companies are well known, the scale of employment is characterized by a large number of employees. If you broaden your horizons to include manufacturing subsidiaries, the industry is an easy place to look for a new job.

Hardware Industry Market Size

According to the "Domestic IT Services Market Forecast" published by IDC Japan K.K., an IT specialist research firm in 2023, the domestic IT services market was 6.773 trillion yen in 2022, and is expected to continue its upward trend after 2023, reaching 7.177 trillion yen by 2027.

In 2022, the domestic IT services market was affected by a delay in the recovery of spending on semiconductors and parts shortages, but it gradually improved in the second half of the year, with an increase in projects related to the digital business of companies, including modernization to find new value by optimizing systems to meet modern needs such as renewing existing systems and shifting to cloud computing. The market grew by 3.3% year-on-year, with positive growth due to an expansion in scope, including an increase in projects related to the

The IT services market in 2023 was a year in which there were concerns about the impact of restrained IT services investment due to the uncertain outlook of global inflation and economic recession. However, from 2024 onward, the negative impact on the hardware-related services market caused by product procurement delays due to semiconductor and component shortages will gradually dissipate, and growth will be supported by demand for system renewal and new system construction from Japanese companies that are shifting to digital business, according to IDC Japan Co. IDC Japan Inc.

The market is expected to continue to expand in 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 2.9% from 2022 to 2027.

Future Prospects for Hardware Engineers


The market for the hardware industry is expected to continue to grow, and so the future of hardware engineers is also expected to be promising. According to the "2021 White Paper on Information and Communications" by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, nearly 90% of households own a smartphone, and about 70% of households own a PC.

Today, tablets are used in elementary schools for education, and opportunities to utilize hardware are also increasing. As the number of people who own such devices increases, the opportunities for hardware engineers to play an active role will also increase.

In the future, it is unlikely that personal computers and smartphones will disappear; rather, it is thought that the development of more user-friendly, high-performance products will continue. It is unlikely that the advent of AI will take away their jobs.

Why Hardware Engineers Have a Future


From here, we will explain why hardware engineers have a promising future.

The market size of the hardware industry is large to begin with.

One of the reasons why there is a future for hardware engineers is the size of the market. The market size of the hardware industry is large even when viewed from a global perspective. Looking at the top market capitalization as of March 18, 2024, according to Nikkei, Microsoft and Apple are ranked first and second, respectively.

Let's look at the top market capitalization in Japan as of March 18, 2024, also according to Nikkei Inc. SONY and Hitachi, located in the hardware industry, are ranked 5th and 11th, respectively, indicating the size of the market. With so many hardware companies in the ranking, one can say that there is little concern about the future.

Demand for hardware incorporating AI is expanding

Demand for hardware incorporating AI is also expanding. An example is drones.

Drones are used for entertainment purposes, such as taking videos and photos, but in recent years they are also being used for business purposes.

However, when equipped with AI, the acquired images can be analyzed immediately, and the drone can quickly learn about its surroundings, enabling it to process more information instantly. Furthermore, since it can understand its surroundings based on the data content, it can navigate autonomously.

As a result, in the case of natural disaster relief, it can navigate autonomously even in high places or along steep paths that are inaccessible to humans, and it can quickly check the deterioration and damage of buildings. It can be used as an important tool in a wide range of operations, including construction and agriculture.

In addition, 3D printers and VR with embedded AI are also expected to be used in a variety of other businesses. The need for hardware engineers should also increase as technological development continues to advance and demand is projected to grow.

The Iot market is also expanding every year.

The Iot market, which combines the Internet and hardware, is also expanding. Some people will find that their lives are becoming more comfortable and convenient as the home appliances they have been using are linked to the Internet. For example, the following systems are applicable

  • Lighting can be adjusted automatically
  • You can manage your air conditioning from outside the house
  • Control the water heater and heat your bath with your smartphone
  • Connect your TV to the Internet 

The above are just a few examples. As the Iot market expands, the demand for hardware engineers will also increase.

Skills to acquire as a hardware engineer


What skills do you need to become a hardware engineer, a position that is expected to be in demand in the future? To make a career change and be successful, consider acquiring the skills listed below.

Knowledge of electronic circuits and semiconductors

Hardware engineers design electronic circuits and semiconductors used in computers, smartphones, televisions, and other devices. Therefore, it is necessary to acquire the skills to design them.

However, it is difficult to acquire enough skills to design them without studying electrical engineering at a technical school or university. Even if you do not have the skills to design, your chances of receiving a job offer increase if you have the knowledge, so it is a good idea to acquire knowledge of electronic circuits and semiconductors.

Knowledge of software

Software is the general term for programs that operate hardware. Software is indispensable for hardware to work.

When we receive a request, we explain the design of electronic hardware to the client. In order to explain the hardware in a way that is easy to understand, knowledge of not only the hardware but also the software is necessary.

Communication skills

As an engineer, some people may have the image of quietly doing development-related work. However, as mentioned above, there are cases in which you will explain the hardware you have designed to customers.

Since some customers have no knowledge of the software, communication skills are necessary to convey the information in an easy-to-understand manner. In addition, there are many cases where work is carried out in cooperation with other engineers.

Careful communication is necessary because there is a risk of failure or redoing the work if cooperation does not go well. Therefore, it is recommended that you also acquire communication skills.

Hardware Engineer Career Path


There are multiple careers available for hardware engineers. It is possible to move into management or a specialty area. We will describe some of the career paths for each.

Examples of Hardware Engineer Career Paths

  • Software Engineer
  • Project Manager
  • Product Manager
  • Bridge SE

Software Engineer

This job is a different role and area of responsibility from the Hardware Engineer, but it also allows you to utilize your knowledge of hardware. Areas of responsibility include

  • Requirement analysis
  • Software design
  • Coding
  • Testing
  • Debugging
  • Maintenance

These tasks are essential for computer systems to work as expected.

Project Manager

A project manager is a leader role who is not engaged in specific design or implementation, but is in charge of project management and progress. Unlike general engineers, they are the ones who organize the entire team, so they need to have not only extensive knowledge of the business, but also management and communication skills. They are mainly responsible for the following tasks

  • Budget management
  • Schedule management
  • Personnel management

Product manager

The product manager is the person responsible for overseeing the entire manufacturing cycle. They are often confused with project managers, but require broader knowledge and consulting skills. The main tasks are as follows

  • Market analysis
  • New product planning and development
  • Testing
  • Release
  • Maintenance, etc.

The main job is to oversee all aspects of the manufacturing cycle based on the company's business strategy. Technical knowledge and understanding of business strategy are also required.

Bridge SE

A bridge SE is an intermediary position between the engineering team, the client, and other stakeholders, and acts as an intermediary in communication and collaboration. They communicate the client's requirements to the engineering team, and to the client, they use their technical knowledge to properly explain the engineering team's work.

Language skills are required, as many cases deal with overseas companies. An understanding of different cultures is also necessary.


If you are changing jobs from other IT industries to become a hardware engineer, keep the following points in mind. Some characteristics are unique to the hardware industry, so please refer to them to ensure a successful career change.

Understand the differences in programming languages used.

In the software industry, programming languages such as PHP and Ruby are used. However, the hardware industry's main language is C. Because the programming languages used are different, there are cases where you will need to learn a new programming language if you are changing jobs from another IT industry.

If you change jobs without knowing the language, you will stumble and it will be difficult to contribute to the company. In some cases, you may not be hired because you have not learned the language in the first place. Learn a new language or make sure that there are areas in which you can play an active role in your new job.

Understand the difference between design products.

Software is a program that makes a computer run, such as an operating system or application software. Hardware, on the other hand, is the physical components that make up a device such as a computer. Memory, hard disks, and CPUs are examples.

Software and hardware are designed differently, and the appeal of hardware development is that you can see the finished product with your own eyes. However, in software development, the finished product is invisible. If you are leaving the software industry, you may feel uncomfortable at first because of the big difference in the design products.

Understanding the Differences in Errors

There are differences in errors between software and hardware. Software errors include bugs and compatibility issues, while hardware errors are physical problems such as damage or malfunction. Depending on the nature of the error, they can lead to major accidents.

Get certified as a hardware engineer.

If you are changing careers to become a hardware engineer, you may be wondering if you should obtain a certification. However, there is no necessary certification. However, if you have a certification related to hardware engineering, you can prove that you have a certain level of knowledge and skills, which may give you an advantage in the hiring process. For example, the following certifications will prove that you have the knowledge.

  • QC (quality control) certification
  • Semiconductor Engineer Certification Examination
  • Digital Technology Certification Examination
  • CAD user engineer examination

The Semiconductor Engineer Certificate provides the knowledge required in practice by those who research, develop, manufacture and sell semiconductor devices.

There are three levels of the Semiconductor Engineer Certificate: Electronics Level 1, Electronics Level 2, and Electronics Level 3. Electronics Level 3 is a certification for young engineers that recognizes that they are personnel with basic knowledge. Electronics Level 2 certifies that the candidate has specialized knowledge and is intended for mid-level engineers and young engineers with experience.

Electronics Level 1 is a certification for personnel in leadership positions and is granted to those who have passed all three subjects of Level 2. Please understand the contents of each qualification, and if you find a qualification that may be advantageous in employment, challenge it.

Use a career change website

If you use a career change website, you may be able to receive support for changing careers.

"United World" provides support from dedicated career advisors, who can discuss your job search problems, give advice on skill development, and discuss your career plan. We have jobs in a variety of industries, from startups to small and medium-sized companies in rural areas, large companies and foreign companies, and we can also introduce you to the hardware industry.

Please feel free to contact us for a consultation so that we can introduce you to positions that match your needs.

Summary: Aim for a career change to become a hardware engineer with a promising future.


Hardware engineering is a promising career. If you are considering a career change to hardware engineering, not only do you need knowledge of electronic circuits and semiconductors, but communication skills are also essential. You should also understand the differences between the programming language you are currently using and consider obtaining a certification to show that you are someone who can contribute more to the company.

United World also handles jobs for hardware engineers. You can find a company that fits your needs from a variety of companies, and our career advisors are available to support you. Please consult with United World to ensure a career change you will not regret.

Talk to United World about 
career change.

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