Skills Required to Become an Embedded Systems Engineer

A typical day for an embedded systems engineer involves quite a lot! You need to combine your hardware and software skills in the right measure to provide innovation-driven technological solutions. Besides being adept at coding, an affinity for solving complex human problems with intelligent machines goes a long way in becoming a successful embedded system design engineer. Since tech companies are driven by innovation, the demand for embedded systems engineers is quite high.

If you would like to kick start your embedded systems career in one of the top tech companies, you need to prepare extremely well. Check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! Also, read Most Popular Back-end Development Languages to Get a Job at FAANG and Embedded Systems Engineer Interview Process for specific insights and guidance on embedded systems tech interviews.

Having trained over 6,000 software engineers and engineering managers, we know what it takes to crack the toughest tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have been landing lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $933,000!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.

Want to nail your next tech interview? Sign up for our FREE Webinar.

So, what does it take to become an embedded systems engineer? Read on to find out:

  • What is embedded systems engineering?
  • What does an embedded systems engineer do?
  • Levels of embedded systems engineers at FAANG companies
  • Qualifications required for embedded systems engineer jobs
  • What skills does an embedded systems engineer need to have?
  • What is the average salary of an embedded systems engineer?
  • What is an embedded systems engineer’s career path?
  • How to crack an embedded systems engineer interview?

What Is Embedded Systems Engineering?

Embedded systems engineering is the process of pioneering, designing, developing, and maintaining intelligent machines using software engineering. Embedded systems engineering involves a steady combination of hardware and software engineering to integrate software engineering with non-computer devices to create embedded systems. 

Thanks to the Internet of Things revolution, these systems are especially popular in consumer electronics, medical science, aviation, manufacturing science, and automotive technology. Designing a typical embedded system requires a strong foundation of programming tools, operating systems, and microprocessors. 

Embedded software engineering is done by highly skilled embedded software engineers, who write very specific codes tailored to the needs of the hardware and the project goals.

What Does an Embedded Systems Engineer Do?

The role of an embedded software engineer at a FAANG company requires you to be at the helm of innovating, developing, and building problem-solving technologies that make the world a better place. Also, embedded systems engineers are expected to be versatile and possess certain leadership qualities that prepare them for taking on challenges in this role. The typical roles and responsibilities of an embedded software engineer are:

  • To engineer and build products that contribute to the company’s products and services ecosystem.
  • To help develop new technology tools that solve human problems and can be integrated into daily life easily. 
  • To design and develop superfast data center networks.
  • Designing, developing, testing, deploying, maintaining, and improving system software.
  • Managing your project priorities and deliverables.
  • Developing and maintaining performance measurement tools used by the company for debugging, analyzing, and testing embedded products.
  • Working on computer architecture, lower-level computer systems, embedded system products, and kernel development.
  • Analyzing and enhancing the efficiency, scalability, and stability of system resources.
  • Supporting software quality analysis and optimizing I/O performance.
  • Providing post-production support to clients.
  • Interfacing with the hardware design and development team for seamless integration and execution of the project.

Pro tip: When preparing for the role of an embedded systems engineer, work around the moonshot approach. A moonshot approach is driven by the desire to break new ground in the tech industry. It is based on the concept of 10× thinking and inspired by former President John F. Kennedy's successful mission to land a man on the moon.

Levels of Embedded Systems Engineers at FAANG Companies

The salary for embedded systems engineers also depends on the level of engineer you are at the company. Typically, there are three levels: 

  1. Entry-level embedded systems engineers: Embedded systems engineers who are just starting out in the field. You may need little or no work experience in embedded systems for this level.
  2. Junior embedded systems engineers: Engineers with some experience working with embedded systems.
  3. Senior embedded systems engineers: Engineers with considerable experience working with embedded systems.

Types of Embedded Systems Engineers

Following are the different types of embedded systems engineers: 

  • Micro-controller firmware engineer
  • Embedded operating system engineer
  • Embedded networking engineer
  • Embedded applications engineer
  • Embedded technology expert

Qualifications Required for Embedded Systems Engineering Jobs

The following are some of the standard qualifications that recruiters at FAANG and other Tier-1 tech companies seek when hiring embedded systems engineers:

  • A bachelor's degree in computer science or computer engineering, a related technical field, or equivalent practical experience
  • Knowledge of hardware and software architecture and debugging
  • Experience in working with consumer electronics or embedded systems design
  • Experience in writing software in C or C++
  • Experience in working with embedded environments, schematics, trace, and board-level debugging

What Skills Does an Embedded Systems Engineer Need to Have?

The approaches and core skills required to become an embedded systems engineer are:

  • Programming: Embedded systems engineers must be proficient in at least one programming or scripting language such as C and C++. Coding knowledge is essential for embedded systems engineers to debug codes, integrate database changes, and automate and deploy processes. Assembly Language is the most common requirement for this position. LabView works with National Instruments data acquisition units. Based on the job and team, and position you are interviewing for, it will help to be familiar with other languages such as ADA, Rust, Lua, Python, Verilog, and VHDL.
  • Microprocessor Ecosystems: As an embedded systems engineer, you need to be well-versed with Arduino, Atmel AVR, Raspberry Pi, ESP8266 NodeMcu, and PIC10Fxx.
  • Memory Management: A strong foundation of the different types of memory, including RAM, ROM, and Flash, and developing software in cases where memory is a premium requirement.
  • Circuit Design: Familiarizing yourself with PCBs, debugging, signal analysis, assembly, and testing of integrated circuits and their components is key. You must be familiar with PCB design and analysis design software such as Allegro and Sigrity.
  • CAD Design: Ensure you have the basic hardware design skills with CAD software such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks.
  • Measurement Tools: You should have experience using digital multimeters, DAQs, and oscilloscopes to analyze and troubleshoot systems.
  • Internet of Things: Knowledge of IoT devices and frameworks such as Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Watson, and AWS is a plus.
  • Data Processing and Analysis: Ability to process and analyze data using Excel, Python, and Matlab is also essential.
  • Technical Writing: You will spend a lot of time writing technical documentation. It will be a plus if you can write research grants as well.
  • Networking and Security: You must also possess a working knowledge of networking concepts to ensure the security of the production environment at all stages of the product cycle.

According to experts, here are some more skills most FAANG companies look for in an embedded systems engineer are:

  • Designing and implementing hardware-software interfaces
  • Debugging of i2c, SPI, Ethernet, PCI-e, and other peripherals
  • Designing and implementing kernel/userspace frameworks and interfaces
  • Working with offload engines in video, networking, crypto, and machine learning
  • Modern video formats, ML algorithms, codecs, and related frameworks
  • Strong foundation in data structures, algorithms, and software design
  • Processors and GPU programming
  • Performance analysis tools and optimization experience
  • Embedded systems development, device drivers, RTOS concepts, and hardware-software integration
  • Foundation in ARM or x86 assembly, Linux kernel, system BIOS, and device drivers
  • Embedded systems design with preemptive and multitasking real-time OS, IP protocols, hardware subsystems, and OS coding techniques
  • Defect tracking tools, software configuration management tools, and peer review
  • Reading datasheets and schematics for components
  • Knowledge of hardware, such as electronic boards, is required.

Embedded Systems Engineer Soft Skills

Here are some soft skills that embedded systems engineers or senior embedded systems engineers should work on to crack the behavioral interview rounds with ease:

  • A curious and analytical approach to problem-solving
  • Passion for technology and innovation
  • Exceptionally creative problem-solving skills
  • Ability to balance between practicality and perfection
  • Ability to work within and across teams
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Willingness to learn and improve

What Is the Average Salary of an Embedded Systems Engineer?

According to Levels.fyi, the compensation package of an embedded systems engineer is quite attractive. The average base salary for an embedded systems engineer is $124,000 per year.

The average bonus offered is $6,000 per annum. It usually varies for engineers even in the same salary band. The average stock grant/profit-sharing offered to embedded systems engineers is $17,000

The total average compensation of an embedded systems engineer in the United States is $147,000 per year.

Want to learn how to negotiate a higher salary package? Experts and ex-recruiters from FAANG+ companies at Interview Kickstart will teach you how to leverage your skills to up your negotiating power. Sign up for Interview Kickstart’s FREE webinar to learn more!

‍What Is an Embedded Systems Engineer’s Career Path?

The embedded system engineering career path depends on the projects you have been a part of and your work experience. The role of an embedded systems engineer has evolved over the years and is still transforming. Embedded systems engineers often come from various backgrounds and may have started their embedded systems role at different points in their careers.

In a FAANG+ company, the embedded systems engineer career progression can look something like this: 

Embedded Systems Engineer I Embedded Systems Engineer II → Senior Embedded Systems Engineer → Staff Embedded Systems Engineer → Senior Staff Embedded Systems Engineer → Principal Embedded Systems Engineer

How to Crack an Embedded Systems Engineer Interview?

A typical embedded systems engineer interview at FAANG+ companies includes:

To crack an embedded systems engineer interview at any of the FAANG companies, you not only need to be good at solving domain-specific problems, but you must also nail core data structures and algorithms as well as behavioral questions.

Nail Your Embedded System Engineering Interview With Interview Kickstart

If you need help with your embedded systems engineer interview prep, join Interview Kickstart’s Embedded Systems Engineering Interview Course — the first-of-its-kind, domain-specific tech interview prep program designed specifically for embedded systems engineers. 

The comprehensive curriculum covers everything from algorithms to core embedded system concepts to prepare you for the most challenging interviews. You can also practice mock interviews with experts and hiring managers from FAANG companies. Their feedback will go a long way in honing your interviewing skills.

Register for our FREE webinar to learn more!

Interview Preparation

Attend our Free Webinar on How to Nail Your Next Technical Interview

About usWhy usInstructorsReviewsCostFAQContactBlogRegister for Webinar