Certificate programs specifically in circuit design are available, and can be found as fully online programs. They can take 1-2 semesters to complete. Applicants to these programs may be required to have previous circuitry, physics, algebra and pre-calculus knowledge.
At the associate degree level, circuit design and layouts may be studied through programs in computer-aided design or electrical engineering technology. These 2-year programs are usually available as on-campus programs due to the hands-on training and lab requirements. Applicants must typically have completed high school or earned an equivalent credential.
Bachelor's degree programs in electronics engineering technology may also include coursework related to circuit design. These 4-year programs prepare students for careers helping to design and test electronic devices and are open to high school graduates. Degree-completion options are also available for those who have previously earned an associate-level electrical engineering technology degree. These tracks take roughly two years to complete. Applicants may need to meet a minimum GPA requirement and may need an academic background in pre-calculus.
Certificate in Circuit Design
These programs are typically designed for individuals interested in entry-level jobs designing and creating the layouts for circuits. Programs can offer courses in analog and integrated circuits, microelectronics and the design of data converters. Additionally, students can study topics like:
- Signal processing
- Continuous-time filters
- Conversion to digital from analog
- Protection against short-circuits
- Wireless communications
Associate Degrees that Cover Circuit Design
Electrical engineering technology departments or computer-aided design programs might offer concentration options in integrated circuit design. These programs can teach students to work on fuel cells, electrical systems and logic controllers from the initial design phases to the post-installation maintenance stage. Classes in logic design, data transmission and the theory of magnetic fields can prepare graduates for fieldwork, such as servicing existing machines. Careers in this field are commonly very hands-on, so training programs can require large amounts of laboratory hours.
Students can begin to learn how circuit design and electrical engineering decisions impact energy use, circuit functionality and the construction of entire electrical instruments. These programs may also include topics like:
- Technical writing
- Boolean algebra
- Direct current (D.C.)
- Alternating current (A.C.)
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Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
Analog-to-digital conversion, digital systems and linear circuitry can all be taught in these programs. In preparation for careers in motion control, medical electronics, radar technology and automation, students may learn about calculus, optics, energy conversion and physics. With respect to circuit design specifically, the curriculum can include:
- Signal analysis
- Power systems
- Electrical measurements
- Distributive systems
- Circuit simulation
In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a high level of electrical and electronics engineering technicians in the electrical component manufacturing industry and the architectural and engineering services industry (www.bls.gov). Associate degree program graduates may be qualified to work as:
- Instrument technicians
- Engineering assistants
- Electronics sales representatives
- Biomedical technicians
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The 2014-2024 BLS job forecast for electrical and electronics engineering technicians shows a 2% decline for this time period. Employment opportunities for electrical and electronics engineers were expected to see little to no change for the same time period. While consumers were projected to continue buying electronics, production competition from other countries was anticipated to hinder American job growth in this field.
The BLS also showed that the 178,580 electrical engineers earned a median annual wage - as of May 2015 - of $93,010. The 139,080 electrical and electronics engineering technicians working as of May 2015 earned a median annual wage of $61,130.
Opportunities for continuing education occur in Master of Engineering or a Master of Science programs, as well as doctoral-level training in electrical engineering. Ph.D. programs in engineering management are also available. Given the nature of the field, some programs allow students to opt for a final project in lieu of the completion of a thesis. Eligible applicants for these programs have typically earned a bachelor's degree in a field related to computer science, mathematics or engineering.
Graduates may be eligible for certification as electronics technicians or broadcast technologists. The certification exam for electronics technicians is run through the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians. Passing this multiple-choice exam with a minimum score of 75% allows professionals to remain credentialed for four years. Questions cover transistors, mathematics, A.C. circuitry and D.C. circuitry.
Broadcast technologists desiring certification can go through the Society of Broadcast Engineers to take a test for a 5-year credential as a Certified Broadcast Technician. The exam covers regulations from the Federal Communications Commission in addition to electronics fundamentals and basic safety. Applicants for recertification must have been employed in the broadcast field for at least three out of the past five years in order to remain eligible.
Students interested in circuit design can earn a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in fields like circuit design, electronics or electrical engineering technology and computer-aided design to prepare for careers as electrical and electronics technicians or engineers. Graduates can also seek professional certification or choose to pursue graduate-level degrees in the field.