Career Definition for a Microelectronics Engineer
Microelectronics is a subdivision of electronics that focuses on the design of small electronic parts like semiconductors, circuit boards, and microchips that are used in the design of new biomedical, electronic, aerospace, and information technologies devices and systems. Microelectronic engineers construct prototypes of new designs, perform specialized tests, and record and interpret data on the performance of new models.
|Education||Bachelor's degree required|
|License||Professional Engineering license available|
|Job Skills||New material knowledge, technical writing, interpretation skills|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$102,180 for electronics engineers|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||4% for electronics engineers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Most microelectronics engineers obtain a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering. However, like most engineering fields, microelectronics combines skills and knowledge from several engineering fields, so many engineers find it easy to switch from one related field to another. It is not uncommon to see microelectronics engineers overlap knowledge from fields like mechanical engineering or materials engineering.
Engineers in any field go through a rigorous licensing process that involves successful completion of an exam, at least four years of apprenticeship, and completion of two engineering tests before they can qualify for a Professional Engineering license (PE).
Microelectronics engineers develop plans and construct prototypes of electronic circuit chips, circuit boards, and semiconductors. They apply knowledge of mechanical systems, new materials, and electronics to construct prototypes of new designs. They require specialized knowledge in technical writing skills and material science in order to prepare semiconductor reports and interpretation skills to read, prepare, and compile progress reports.
Career and Economic Outlook
The projected growth for electrical and electronics engineers, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was expected to increase by 4% from 2016-2026. This is due in part to a declining manufacturing sector. The median annual income for non-computer engineers working in the field of electronics was approximately $102,180, according to BLS data from May 2017. The highest levels of employment for electrical engineers can be found in California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and Virginia.
Alternate Career Options
Here are a few other options in engineering careers:
Electrical Engineering Technician
An electrical engineering technician takes an active role in the development of projects designed by electrical engineers and computer hardware engineers. They set up and test a prototype and working electronics components, such as navigation systems; they also report on the electronics' performance, and make suggestions for change as needed. People employed in this job usually have an associate's degree in electrical engineering technology. Industry certification in electrical power testing is available. According to the BLS, the number of jobs for electrical and electronics engineering technicians is expected to grow by 2% from 2016-2026. These professionals earned median pay of $63,660 in 2017; the BLS also reports that the states where the greatest number of electrical and electronics engineering technicians worked were California, Texas, Virginia, New York and Florida.
Computer Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware engineers develop the parts that make computers work through activities like research, development, testing, and modification. They push technological advancement in computer components like routers, circuit boards, and processors, and they ensure that newly researched parts work well with existing parts and software. Jobs typically require an ABET-accredited bachelor's degree in computer engineering. According to the BLS, jobs for computer hardware engineers are expected to increase by 5% from 2016-2026. The BLS reports that the median pay for this job was $115,120 in 2017; the states where employment was highest in this career were California, Maryland, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Florida.