Microelectronics engineer

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. Microelectronics engineers design, develop, and supervise the production of small electronic devices and components such as micro-processors and integrated circuits.

Excludes microsystem engineer.
Excludes people using materials such as quartz, plastics and ceramics.

The duties of a microelectronics engineer include, but are not limited to:

  • Designing, inspecting, testing, and updating microelectronic systems, components, equipment, and software.
  • Liaising with engineers, other professionals, as well as clients to ensure quality projects are completed to specifications.
  • Ensuring all equipment and products meet health and safety regulations.
  • Observing existing processes and making recommendations for improvement.
  • Developing effective maintenance, testing, and quality control procedures.
  • Showing initiative and keeping up with advancements in microelectronics.
  • Representing the company at conferences and delivering presentations if required.
  • Monitoring processes, systems, and staff, and punctually identifying problems.
  • Establishing relationships with staff, vendors, suppliers, and other professionals in the field.
  • Writing specifications, instructions, reports, and handling other required administrative duties.

Working conditions

Microelectronics engineers generally work indoors in offices. They may work outdoors if the electrical system or equipment requires it.

Microelectronics engineers often share the same office space with other engineers. Sometimes, they may visit sites to observe a problem, or a piece of complex equipment.

Most microelectronics engineers work full time. Sometimes, they may work longer hours to meet project deadlines.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to microelectronics engineer:

microelectronics technology engineering adviser
microelectronic technology engineering consultant
engineer of microprocessors
microelectronic technology engineering expert
engineer of microelectronics
microelectronic technology engineer
microprocessor engineer
microelectronic engineering specialist
microelectronic engineering expert
engineer of micro-electronics
micro-electronic engineer
micro-electronics engineer
microelectronic engineering consultant
microelectronic technology engineering specialist
micro electronics engineer
microelectronic engineering adviser
micro electronic engineer
microelectronics design engineer
microelectronic engineer

Minimum qualifications

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.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Microelectronics engineer is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Microelectronics engineer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to a microelectronics engineer.

electromagnetic engineer
microsystem engineer
sensor engineer
electromechanical engineer
automation engineer

Long term prospects

Microelectronics engineers may advance to supervisory positions in which they lead a team of engineers and technicians. Another possibility is to move to positions of project management. Some may move to management positions, working as engineering or program managers. Preparation for managerial positions usually requires working under the guidance of a more experienced engineer, who may not necessary be a microelectronics engineer.

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of microelectronics engineer.

  • Electronic test procedures: Testing protocols that enable a variety of analyses of electronic systems, products, and components. These tests include the testing of electrical properties, such as voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, and inductance as well as the testing of specific electronic components, such as the electron tubes, semiconductors, integrated circuits, and batteries. These tests include visual inspection, performance tests, environment tests, and safety tests.
  • Electronic equipment standards: The national and international quality and safety standards and regulations with regards to the use and manufacture of electronic equipment and its components, such as semiconductors and printed circuit boards.
  • Electricity principles: Electricity is created when electric current flows along a conductor. It entails the movement of free electrons between atoms. The more free electrons are present in a material, the better this material conducts. The three main parameters of electricity are the voltage, current (ampère), and resistance (ohm).
  • Engineering principles: The engineering elements like functionality, replicability, and costs in relation to the design and how they are applied in the completion of engineering projects.
  • Integrated circuits: Electronic components, made up from a set of electronic circuits which are placed on semiconductor material, such as silicon. Integrated circuits (IC) can hold billions of electronic components on a microscale and are one of basic components of electronic devices.
  • Design drawings: Understand design drawings detailing the design of products, tools, and engineering systems.
  • Mathematics: Mathematics is the study of topics such as quantity, structure, space, and change. It involves the identification of patterns and formulating new conjectures based on them. Mathematicians strive to prove the truth or falsity of these conjectures. There are many fields of mathematics, some of which are widely used for practical applications.
  • Microelectronics: Microelectronics is a subdiscipline of electronics and relates the study, design, and manufacture of small electronic components, such as microchips.
  • Physics: The natural science involving the study of matter, motion, energy, force and related notions.
  • Environmental legislation: The environmental policies and legislation applicable in a certain domain.
  • Environmental threats: The threats for the environment which are related to biological, chemical, nuclear, radiological, and physical hazards.
  • Microprocessors: Computer processors on a microscale that integrate the computer central processing unit (CPU) on a single chip.
  • Electronics: The functioning of electronic circuit boards, processors, chips, and computer hardware and software, including programming and applications. Apply this knowledge to ensure electronic equipment runs smoothly.
  • Microassembly: The assembly of nano, micro or mesoscale systems and components with dimensions between 1 µm to 1 mm. Because of the need for precision on a microscale, micro assemblies require reliable visual alignment equipment, such as ion beam imaging systems and stereo electronic microscopes, as well as precision tools and machines, such as microgrippers. The microsystems are assembled according to techniques of doping, thin films, etching, bonding, microlithography, and polishing.
  • Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of microelectronics engineer.

  • Conduct literature research: Conduct a comprehensive and systematic research of information and publications on a specific literature topic. Present a comparative evaluative literature summary.
  • Process customer requests based on the REACh Regulation 1907 2006: Reply to private consumer requests according to REACh Regulation 1907/2006 whereby chemical Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) should be minimal. Advise customers on how to proceed and protect themselves if the presence of SVHC is higher than expected.
  • Develop electronic test procedures: Develop testing protocols to enable a variety of analyses of electronic systems, products, and components.
  • Perform data analysis: Collect data and statistics to test and evaluate in order to generate assertions and pattern predictions, with the aim of discovering useful information in a decision-making process.
  • Record test data: Record data which has been identified specifically during preceding tests in order to verify that outputs of the test produce specific results or to review the reaction of the subject under exceptional or unusual input.
  • Conduct quality control analysis: Conduct inspections and tests of services, processes, or products to evaluate quality.
  • Adjust engineering designs: Adjust designs of products or parts of products so that they meet requirements.
  • Perform scientific research: Gain, correct or improve knowledge about phenomena by using scientific methods and techniques, based on empirical or measurable observations.
  • Use technical drawing software: Create technical designs and technical drawings using specialised software.
  • Test microelectronics: Test microelectronics using appropriate equipment. Gather and analyse data. Monitor and evaluate system performance and take action if needed.
  • Analyse test data: Interpret and analyse data collected during testing in order to formulate conclusions, new insights or solutions.
  • Design microelectronics: Design and develop microelectronic systems, products, and components according to specifications, such as microchips.
  • Read engineering drawings: Read the technical drawings of a product made by the engineer in order to suggest improvements, make models of the product or operate it.
  • Design prototypes: Design prototypes of products or components of products by applying design and engineering principles.
  • Abide by regulations on banned materials: Comply with regulations banning heavy metals in solder, flame retardants in plastics, and phthalate plasticisers in plastics and wiring harness insulations, under EU RoHS/WEEE Directives and China RoHS legislation.
  • Report analysis results: Produce research documents or give presentations to report the results of a conducted research and analysis project, indicating the analysis procedures and methods which led to the results, as well as potential interpretations of the results.
  • Operate scientific measuring equipment: Operate devices, machinery, and equipment designed for scientific measurement. Scientific equipment consists of specialised measuring instruments refined to facilitate the acquisition of data.
  • Model microelectronics: Model and simulate microelectronic systems, products, and components using technical design software. Assess the viability of the product and examine the physical parameters to ensure a successful production process.
  • Ensure material compliance: Ensure that the materials provided by suppliers comply with the specified requirements.
  • Prepare production prototypes: Prepare early models or prototypes in order to test concepts and replicability possibilities. Create prototypes to assess for pre-production tests.
  • Approve engineering design: Give consent to the finished engineering design to go over to the actual manufacturing and assembly of the product.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of microelectronics engineer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Firmware: Firmware is a software program with a read-only memory (ROM) and a set of instructions that is permanently inscribed on a hardware device. Firmware is commonly used in electronic systems such as computers, mobile phones, and digital cameras.
  • Integrated circuit types: Types of integrated circuits (IC), such as analog integrated circuits, digital integrated circuits, and mixed-signal integrated circuits.
  • MOEM: Micro-opto-electro-mechanics (MOEM) combines microelectronics, microoptics and micromechanics in the development of MEM devices with optical features, such as optical switches, optical cross-connects, and microbolometers.
  • Consumer electronics: The functioning of electronic consumer goods such as TVs, radios, cameras and other audio and video equipment.
  • CAE software: The software to perform computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis tasks such as Finite Element Analysis and Computional Fluid Dynamics.
  • Mechanical engineering: Discipline that applies principles of physics, engineering and materials science to design, analyse, manufacture and maintain mechanical systems.
  • Microoptics: Optical devices with a size of 1 millimeter or smaller, such as microlenses and micromirrors.
  • Micromechanics: The design and production of micromechanisms. Micromechanisms combine mechanical and electrical components in a single device that is less than 1mm across.
  • Precision measuring instruments: Instruments used for precision measuring or manufacture, such as micrometers, calipers, gauges, scales, and microscopes.
  • Microelectromechanical systems: Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are miniaturised electromechanical systems made using processes of microfabrication. MEMS consist of microsensors, microactuators, microstructures, and microelectronics. MEMS can be used in a range of appliances, such as ink jet printer heads, digital light processors, gyroscopes in smart phones, accelerometers for airbags, and miniature microphones.
  • Nanoelectronics: Quantum mechanics, wave-particle duality, wave functions and inter-atomic interactions. Description of electrons on a nanoscale. Use of nanotechnology in electronic components on a molecular scale. 
  • Semiconductors: Semiconductors are essential components of electronic circuits and contain properties of both insulators, such as glass, and conductors, such as copper. Most semiconductors are crystals made of silicon or germanium. By introducing other elements in the crystal through doping, the crystals turn into semiconductors. Depending on the amount of electrons created by the doping process, the crystals turn into N-type semiconductors, or P-type semiconductors.
  • Microsensors: Devices with a size smaller than 1 mm that can convert a non-electric signal, such as temperature, into an electrical signal. Because of their size, microsensors offer better accuracy, range, and sensitivity compared to larger sensors.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of microelectronics engineer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Provide technical documentation: Prepare documentation for existing and upcoming products or services, describing their functionality and composition in such a way that it is understandable for a wide audience without technical background and compliant with defined requirements and standards. Keep documentation up to date.
  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Apply soldering techniques: Apply and work with a variety of techniques in the process of soldering, such as soft soldering, silver soldering, induction soldering, resistance soldering, pipe soldering, mechanical and aluminium soldering.
  • Design firmware: Design the appropriate firmware to a specific electronic system.
  • Solder electronics: Operate and use soldering tools and soldering iron, which supply high temperatures to melt the solder and to join electronic components.
  • Install hardware: Assemble the necessary hardware components, such as the motherboard, Central Processing Unit (CPU), hard drive, disk drive, power supply unit, RAM, PCI card, mouse, keyboard, cameras and other necessary components to build the computer device. Attach the components manually using screwdrivers or use assembly machines and install the wiring.
  • Perform test run: Perform tests putting a system, machine, tool or other equipment through a series of actions under actual operating conditions in order to assess its reliability and suitability to realise its tasks, and adjust settings accordingly.
  • Define manufacturing quality criteria: Define and describe the criteria by which data quality is measured for manufacturing purposes, such as international standards and manufacturing regulations.
  • Create technical plans: Create detailed technical plans of machinery, equipment, tools and other products.
  • Design integrated circuits: Design and draft integrated circuits (IC) or semiconductors, such as microchips, used in electronic products. Integrate all necessary components, such as diodes, transistors, and resistors. Pay attention to the design of input signals, output signals, and power availability.
  • Use CAM software: Use computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programmes to control machinery and machine tools in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation as part of the manufacturing processes of workpieces.
  • Coordinate engineering teams: Plan, coordinate and supervise engineering activities together with engineers and engineering technicians. Ensure clear and effective channels of communication across all departments. Make sure the team is aware of the standards and objectives of the research and development.
  • Use precision tools: Use electronic, mechanical, electric, or optical precision tools, such as drilling machines, grinders, gear cutters and milling machines to boost accuracy while machining products.
  • Draft bill of materials: Set up a list of materials, components, and assemblies as well as the quantities needed to manufacture a certain product.
  • Use CAD software: Use computer-aided design (CAD) systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation of a design.
  • Apply technical communication skills: Explain technical details to non-technical customers, stakeholders, or any other interested parties in a clear and concise manner.
  • Install software: Install machine-readable instructions, such as computer programs, in order to direct the computer’s processor to perform a certain set of actions.
  • Perform project management: Manage and plan various resources, such as human resources, budget, deadline, results, and quality necessary for a specific project, and monitor the project’s progress in order to achieve a specific goal within a set time and budget.
  • Program firmware: Program permanent software with a read-only memory (ROM) on a hardware device, such as an integrated circuit.
  • Operate precision machinery: Operate machinery used for the making of small systems or components with a high level of precision.
  • Build business relationships: Establish a positive, long-term relationship between organisations and interested third parties such as suppliers, distributors, shareholders and other stakeholders in order to inform them of the organisation and its objectives.
  • Maintain safe engineering watches: Observe principles in keeping an engineering watch. Take over, accept and hand over a watch. Perform routine duties undertaken during a watch. Maintain the machinery space logs and the significance of the readings taken. Observe safety and emergency procedures. Observe safety precautions during a watch and take immediate actions in the event of fire or accident, with particular reference to oil systems.
  • Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
  • Prepare assembly drawings: Create the drawings that identify the different components and materials, and that provide instructions as to how they should be assembled.
  • Perform resource planning: Estimate the expected input in terms of time, human and financial resources necessary to achieve the project objectives.
  • Develop product design: Convert market requirements into product design and development.

ISCO group and title

2152 – Electronics engineers

  1. ESCO
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Microelectronics Engineer Job & Career Info – BestAccreditedColleges.org
  4. Microelectronics Engineer Salary and Career Advice | Chegg Careermatch
  5. Featured image: Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels:
Last updated on June 8, 2022