Microelectronic engineering is a developing field which can be very dynamic and exciting. In many ways, it can place you right at the cutting edge of the latest technological developments, and technologies which can impact our lives on every level. There are great educational programs available for this subfield or small branch of engineering, and if you’re considering going to school to study this, then you’ll find what you need right here. Take a look below to see what you can expect from your education, your future career and job opportunities, and more.
What to Expect from an Microelectronic Engineering Program
Microelectronic engineering is still a small branch of engineering, and depending on whom you ask, it’s a small branch of one of several different big branches. Microelectronic engineers, at their cores, may really be specialized computer hardware engineers, specialized electronics engineers, specialized manufacturing engineers, or all of the above. It makes it hard to classify, but exciting to be a part of, because it incorporates so many different ideas and concepts, and can be applied in so many different ways.
The majority of microelectronic engineering programs are going to be offered at the masters degree level. However, you may find some minors or class groupings available at a bachelors degree level, and within one of those larger branches discussed above. Depending on what specifically you’d like to do with your career, you may want to place more of an emphasis on studies of either electronic, mechanical or computer hardware engineering.
Microelectronic engineering is all about the development, testing and application of technology and electronic circuits on the smallest, or micro scale. That may be the development of advanced silicone chips, or it could be nanotechnology which can be used in the fields of energy, health or nearly any other industry.
A bachelors program in something such as electronics engineering will take about four years to complete. Masters programs will then take another two years to complete.
Many professionals finish their bachelor program and then jump right into their postgraduate studies, completing their masters degrees while they are also pursuing their job training as EITs, or engineers in training. In this way, once that training period is completed, the individual will have already completed their postgraduate work, and will be a fully licensed Professional Engineer with an extra level of education under their belt, ready to take on any available job or career path which suits them.
Online Microelectronic Engineering Degrees
As mentioned, the majority of degrees available for microelectronic engineering are at the postgraduate level, and are most typically masters programs. There are several online choices for this program, although there aren’t a great deal of options at this point in time.
Once again, this is a small and developing subfield within the huge pool of engineering. The programs that do exist are definitely leading the way and will bring in industry-leading professionals and instructors to guide them, offering students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves at the highest levels of the field right from the start.
Job Opportunities for Microelectronic Engineers
Microelectronic engineers will find a huge range of job opportunities, and as discussed, will find overlapping work with computer hardware engineers, electronics engineers, and more. However, for specific microelectronic work, the bulk of the jobs will be in research and development. Testing and finding new ways to use the tiniest microelectronic circuits, for everything from simple yes or no type circuits and systems, to complex decision making and intelligent response systems, and more. Jobs will be available in the private industry, and in nonprofit research organizations.
The government will also have a strong need for their own R&D in microelectronics, and from the health industry to consumer products to machinery to the military, there could potentially be endless destinations for microelectronic engineers. This means that there will be no shortage of jobs, for one thing, but also that you’ll be able to really pick and choose what you’re the most interested in and passionate about.
Is There a Demand for Microelectronic Engineers?
In a word, yes, there is absolutely a demand for microelectronic engineers, and it’s something that’s only going to continue to grow, as mentioned. The burgeoning fields of things such as nanotechnology and the ever-increasing ubiquitous nature of computers and electronic chips in everything we use necessitates this.
On the whole, the entire field of engineering is expected to grow quicker than average during the BLS projection period of 2008 to 2018, with 11 percent total growth, equating to over 175,000 new jobs. Microelectronic engineers may quantitatively represent a small total of that number, but the growth may end up being exponential, as the new field really takes off and increases in importance in every industry and all areas of life.
How Much do Microelectronic Engineers Get Paid?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific salary information for microelectronic engineers, individuals, who as mentioned may be hard to classify, and still represent only a small fraction of the engineering puzzle. However, data from related and overarching fields can be used to give you a good idea about what you can expect to see from your salary.
One place to look is the field of electronic engineering on the whole. Here, in May 2010, electronics engineers earned a mean annual wage of $92,730, with the top 25% of the field earning $111,860 and the top 10% of the field earning $135,000 or more. That’s definitely something to look forward to.
For computer hardware engineers, another related field, the earnings were even greater. Here, a mean annual wage of $101,600 was enjoyed, with the top 25% earning $123,630, and the top 10% earning nearly $148,000 or more. The ever-generic grouping of “all other” engineers not otherwise classified shows a mean annual wage of $91,770, and a top 25% of $115,440 and top 10% of $138,610.
Microelectronic engineering is definitely one of the fields that is at the forefront of technology, new and exciting trends, and more. Going to school now to get your degree in this specialty will give you a leg up on the competition, and will enable you to be in prime position for everything that develops over the coming decades. From the high salary to the exciting opportunities, and being hands on in the creation and application of technology, microelectronic engineering degrees are a great choice for many individuals.