PCB designers work for electronic component and semiconductor manufacturers by designing circuit boards for electronic products. These jobs usually require a degree, and employment opportunities in this field are expected to decrease slightly.
A printed circuit board (PCB) designer uses computer programs to design circuit boards, which are used in computers, electronics, cell phones and other electronics. Job requirements vary by employer, but PCB design is often taught as part of electronic drafting or engineering programs, which are offered at the undergraduate levels.
|Required Education||Varies; associate's or bachelor's degree might be required|
|Projected Job Growth*||-2% between 2014 and 2024 (for all electrical and electronics engineering technicians)|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$61,870 (for all electrical and electronics engineering technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description of a Printed Circuit Board Designer
PCB designers often work for electronic component or semiconductor manufacturers. They design the circuit boards that are often green in color and used in electronic products. They must integrate circuits and computer microchips into the design of their boards, for use in products such as cell phones, appliances and computers.
PCB designers use industry-standard computer software programs to aid and implement the design process. During the design process, a PCB designer needs to understand where to place components, conductors and hole mounts, as well as manufacture specifications, circuit routing, schematics and design testing. Many of these design processes are in accordance with standards developed by the IPC Designers Council, which develops standards for manufacturers and, in some cases, partners with educators to assist with PCB design courses (www.ipc.org).
Job Outlook for PCB Design
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in PCB design, which can be included in the job duties of electrical and electronics engineering technicians, is expected to decrease 2% during 2014-2024. This group of technical professionals made an average annual wage of $61,870 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Education Requirements of a Printed Circuit Board Designer
PCB design is commonly taught as part of other electronic or computer-related design curriculum. Employer requirements vary; some may accept proven knowledge of PCB design alone, while others seek a formal education from either a 2- or 4-year degree program. With that in mind, listed below are typical programs that teach PCB design.
Associate of Science Electronic Drafting and Design
These are 2-year degree programs, which offer computer drafting and design related curriculum, including PCB design courses. PCB design courses focus on the design process, technology behind the design and PCB fabrication. Other common courses in these programs touch upon:
- Descriptive geometry
- Mechanical drafting
- Computer design modeling
- Electronic structuring
Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering Technology
Many of these 4-year degree programs teach PCB design courses as part of the core curriculum, while in some cases students can only choose to learn this skill as an elective. PCB courses relate to lessons in computer design and may touch upon physical design of the boards. Common courses in these programs cover:
- Electronic circuits and devices
- Laboratory courses
- Electronic fabrication
- Network design and analysis
Printed circuit board designers could be required to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree, but some positions might not require any formal training. Regardless of their education level, individuals in these positions must be proficient in design software. The average annual salary for these jobs is about $62,000.