Microelectronic Engineering Degree

What is microelectronic engineering?

The field of microelectronics focuses on the compositions and creation of small electronic components. This includes building semiconductors, transistors, diodes, capacitors, and resistors along with all of the other components of a circuit board.

Most professionals working in this field are involved in the design and creation of microchips, which are found in everything from cars to the electronics we use on a daily basis such as phones and computers.

How to become a microelectronic engineer

If you’re interested in becoming a microelectronic engineer, there are certain qualifications that you will need to have. Most employers in this field require applicants to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering with a focus on microelectronics or electronic engineering. In this subject area, many universities offer cooperative programs which allow students to get involved in structured work experience for which they can receive academic credits. These programs are favorably looked upon by prospective employers.

If you want to seek out more advanced positions in the field, work in research and development, or teach at the university level, you will need to enroll in a graduate degree program in the field.

In addition, once you have earned the relevant educational qualifications, you should consider getting a Professional Engineer (PE) license. Having this license can greatly improve your chances of finding employment.

In general, the steps to becoming a microelectronic engineer are as follows:

Steps to becoming a microelectronic engineer:

1. Enroll in a cooperative bachelor’s degree program in   engineering with a concentration in microelectronics or electronics

2. Enroll in a graduate degree program in engineering with a concentration in microelectronics

3. Get relevant training and experience in the field of microelectronic engineering

4. Get your Professional Engineer (PE) license

Bachelor’s degree

At the undergraduate degree level, you will likely have to enroll in a general engineering program which offers the option of choosing a concentration in either microelectronic or electronics. At this stage, your foundation in engineering will be built and you will learn all of the basics of the field. If you join a cooperative program you will also be given the opportunity to take part in structured work experiences for college credit. These will allow you to apply what you learn in the classroom in a real work setting.

In a bachelor’s degree program, students will take part in classroom work, laboratory work, and field studies. Make sure that the undergraduate degree you enroll in is accredited by ABET.

Degree

Duration

Some of the courses offered

Bachelor’s degree in engineering with a concentration in microelectronics or electronics

4 years

  •  General Chemistry for Engineering
  • Computational Problem Solving for Engineers
  • Engineering Co-op
  • Digital Systems
  • Semiconductor Devices for Microelectronic Engineering
  • Linear Systems
  • Nanolithography Systems
  • Differential equations
  • Electrical circuit theory

Master’s degree in microelectronic engineering

Even at the graduate degree level, it is rare to fine programs dedicated to microelectronic engineering. Instead, you will need to enroll in an engineering program with a concentration in microelectronics or enroll in an electronic engineering program.

Pursuing a graduate degree in this field is for those individuals seeking to take on advanced positions in the field in research and development as well as academia.

Degree

Duration

Some of the courses offered

Master’s degree in engineering with a concentration in microelectronics

2 years

  • Digital Circuits Design
  • Microprocessors
  • Integrated Circuits
  • Telecommunication Systems
  • Electronic Properties of Materials
  • Optical Fiber Communication

Licensure

For most entry level positions in the field, a license isn’t required in order to practice. If you are looking to take on advanced roles and positions, you will be required to have a Professional Engineering (PE) license. As a licensed professional engineer (PE), you are qualified to oversee the work of other engineers, provide services directly to the public, and sign off on projects.

Licensure requirements are set by states, but generally candidates must:

  • Have a ABET-accredited engineering degree
  • Have relevant work experience in the field
  • Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam

Career prospects and salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have a specific career profile for microelectronic engineering. However, it does provide a detailed profile for electrical and electronics engineers which can be referred to in order to get an idea of what microelectronic engineers stand to make.

As of May 2015, electrical and electronics engineers made an annual median salary of $95,230 per year, which translates into about $45.78 per hour. In terms of job outlook, the profession is expected to see a 0% change in the years between 2014-24, so negligible changes are expected. As of 2014, there were roughly 315,900 jobs held in this profession.

BLS also provides data on the top five industries in which electronics engineers are employed:

Top Industries

Annual Median Wages (May 2015)

Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing        

$107,940

 

Federal government, excluding postal service   

$105,960

 

Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing

$101,940

 

Engineering services

$98,250

 

Telecommunications

$90,520

 

 

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