Circuit designers work to create circuit boards used in electronic devices of all sorts. These positions require advanced education as well as proficiency in technology and technology tools. The employment outlook for all electronics engineers, including circuit designers, points to declining growth for the 2018-2028 decade.
Circuit designers have the responsibility of designing electronic circuits that make up electrical systems. Other responsibilities circuit designers have include designing different types of circuits and boards and creating signal processing filters. The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor of science in engineering, some employers require a master's of electrical engineering. Since circuit designs change frequently, this career requires a great amount of continuing education to keep up with technology updates.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in electrical or electronics engineering; master's degree in engineering sometimes required|
|Other Requirements||Previous experience|
|Projected Job Outlook (2018-2028)||-1% for electronics engineers, except computer*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$102,700 for electronics engineers, except computer*|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)*
Circuit Designer Job Description
While other types of engineers design electronic products, circuit designers work on a smaller scale and design the circuits that serve as the foundation for these products. They may modify existing designs or create new designs. Because circuit technology is constantly changing, new and updated circuits are continuously needed.
Circuit Designer Duties
Circuit designers are given certain specifications regarding a product or project. These specifications are used as a guideline for designing circuits and circuit boards. Designers are sometimes given conceptual designs that they can turn into real-life, working circuits. Other responsibilities may include designing different types of circuits and boards, such as amplifiers and multi-chip modules (MCM). Additionally, circuit designers create signal processing filters, which extract information from electrical currents and voltages. Circuit designers must work to meet deadlines, achieve quality goals and stay within budgets.
During the design process, circuit designers perform laboratory tests using equipment such as a Network Analyzer, Spectrum Analyzer or Power Meter. They also simulate circuits using software, such as SpectreRF and Sonnet. They provide direction to layout technicians regarding circuit implementation through the use of Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software. Circuit designers are responsible for the entire design process, from conception to the finished unit.
Circuit Designer Requirements
Most employers require a Bachelor of Science in Electrical or Electronics Engineering as their minimum education requirement. Others require or prefer a Master of Science in Electrical or Electronics Engineering. Some electrical engineering programs allow students to choose an area of emphasis, which may include circuit design. Undergraduate students enrolled in electrical engineering programs may take courses in calculus, physics, computer programming, electric circuits, signal processing, electronics and engineering design. Seniors may be required to complete a capstone project in which they work with a team and create a design based on client specifications. Students in master's degree programs may take courses in power system analysis, computer networking, probability, fiber optics, engineering management and wireless networks.
A few years of previous experience in design engineering or a related area is also a very common employment requirement. Circuit designers should be comfortable working on a computer and using software programs, such as Microsoft Office. They should also have strong communication skills and be comfortable working as part of a team since they must work closely with engineers, technicians and layout designers. Tight deadlines are common in this line of work, and a strong sense of responsibility and motivation are essential. Skills more specific to circuit design can also be very helpful when seeking employment. This can include familiarity with testing procedures and equipment, knowledge of simulation software and design review presentation skills.
Job Outlook and Salary Info
In May 2018, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $162,200 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $162,200 or less per year. The BLS also stated that electronics engineers were expected to see a one percent decrease in employment from 2018-2028.
Circuit designers need to hold a bachelor's degree in an engineering field, and some jobs or employers may require a master's degree. These professionals also need to be proficient in design software and usually require work experience. The median annual salary for all electronics engineers is about $103,000.