Blog 5: Winning the hearts and minds of semiconductor innovators
Workforce Development Blog
Undergraduates, Where Will You Go Tomorrow?
Entering the Semiconductor Industry: Fulfillment Beyond a Paycheck
Key points of Blog 5
- Why now is a great time to set your sights on a career in the semiconductor industry
- What compensation and fulfillment await you
- Tips for embarking on a career in the semiconductor industry
In a world that's seeing a technological revolution like never before, there's one industry that stands out as the epicenter of innovation – the semiconductor industry. If you're seeking a rewarding and financially lucrative career, there has never been a better time to consider joining the semiconductor sector. In this blog, we'll explore why now is a great time to enter this dynamic field. We’ll show you how the personal and financial prospects of working in the semiconductor industry fulfill not just your career aspirations but also your desire to make a positive impact on the world.
The semiconductor industry has been grappling with a severe talent shortage for years. Simply put, it takes time to build the skills and knowledge to be a successful contributor. STEM undergraduates generally spend four or more years in labs and lectures learning science and engineering principles before they are prepared to apply their education in the practical world. The workforce crisis has only intensified as the demand for skilled professionals in semiconductor design, fabrication, and research continues to skyrocket. By choosing a career in semiconductors, you can step into an industry where your skills and expertise will be highly sought after, providing you with abundant opportunities to excel and grow.
Not only is the demand for people intense, but the pace of technological change in the semiconductor industry is unparalleled. With each passing year, we witness groundbreaking innovations that redefine the limits of what can be achieved. From the development of smaller, more powerful chips to the integration of AI and IoT technologies, the semiconductor industry is at the forefront of driving innovation across sectors. You can shape the future when you join this industry, creating the technology that improves our lives.
A Multitude of Paths
The semiconductor industry is broad as well as deep. Semiconductor chips are the brains of the devices that are used in industries as diverse as health and bio, food and agriculture, education and business, energy and environment, defense and space. Semiconductor technology is not just limited to traditional computing; it powers an array of applications that improve the human standard of living. Examples include creating renewable energy solutions, empowering artificial intelligence, providing virtual or mixed reality experiences, and building a smarter, more integrated world (e.g., Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles). This diversity results in an equally diverse range of specializations and career paths.
While preparing for Industry 4.0, many industries will rely upon semiconductors to provide sustainable solutions in their markets. For instance, efficient and sustainable solutions are largely only possible with the use of semiconductors in the $7.8 billion agricultural robotics market and the $31.8 billion smart grid technology market. Working in the semiconductor industry will provide opportunities for passionate students to develop solutions and create a greener, sustainable, and peaceful planet for future generations.
Innovations in a field start where investments in R&D are happening. Many companies invest heavily in research and development. Continued development, along with new fabs, means more jobs and a continued expansion of the industry’s capacity. Following pharma and biotechnology, the semiconductor industry is the second largest sector investing about 20% in R&D (calculated as percent of sales). If research and innovation are your thing, opportunities abound.
A Look at Compensation
Engineering professions offer a plethora of options, substantial earning potential, and the chance to make a significant impact on the world. Whether you’re interested in chip design, manufacturing, or research and development, the industry offers a diverse range of roles to suit your skills and interests. This diversity means there are ample opportunities for career progression, specialization, and earning potential.
The provided chart shows the earning potential of individuals with bachelor’s degrees in various engineering disciplines that are common in the semiconductor industry. Compare them to computer science, a field which in the past decade has seen explosive growth with highly prestigious job options offering competitive salaries and generous benefits. While computer science is undoubtedly a rewarding field, engineering degree opportunities are equally lucrative and fulfilling. Whether you're drawn to designing sustainable infrastructure, creating life-changing medical technologies, or pioneering solutions for global challenges, engineering provides a fulfilling and meaningful career path that rivals any other.
Fulfillment Beyond Your Paycheck
Working in the semiconductor industry is not just about a paycheck; it's about making a meaningful impact. While tech sector companies may have their appeal, the semiconductor industry offers the chance to work on cutting-edge solutions to some of society's most pressing problems such as enabling efficient renewable energy systems, advancing healthcare technology, and enhancing communication networks. The semiconductor industry empowers you to be part of solutions that truly matter.
Sustainability is a global concern, and the semiconductor industry plays a vital role in addressing it. From designing energy-efficient chips to reducing waste in manufacturing processes, several semiconductor companies and professionals have committed to net-zero emissions and set goals to use 100% renewable energy in the coming 5 – 15 years to create and sustain a greener future. This issue has been called out as one of the five Seismic Shifts identified in the 2030 Decadal Plan for Semiconductors. If you're passionate about environmental issues, a career in this industry provides a platform to make a positive difference.
The semiconductor industry has historically been depicted as a homogenous, male-dominated field of engineers working in a high-stress and secretive environment. However, the reality is that the semiconductor workforce is evolving apace with other industries. Companies and the individuals who make up those organizations are enthusiastically promoting opportunities for diversity and inclusion because they have seen the benefit of bringing together a mix of life experiences and perspectives. The semiconductor industry of today provides and fosters a supportive community of professionals who are passionate about what they do. From mentorship programs to collaborative research initiatives, you'll find ample opportunities to connect with those who share your commitment to innovation and excellence.
Engineering graduates should consider the semiconductor industry as their ultimate destination because it's where innovation is born. Solutions are transformed into tangible products that power our modern world. Here, you'll have the opportunity to shape the technologies of tomorrow, work on groundbreaking solutions, and address global challenges like sustainability and energy efficiency. With a supportive community, competitive compensation, and a chance to make a lasting impact, the semiconductor industry offers a fulfilling and dynamic career path for engineers eager to drive progress and push the boundaries of what's possible.
How You Can Get Involved
Start by building a strong foundation with relevant coursework, internships, and projects during your undergraduate years. Seek out hands-on opportunities like SRC-sponsored research projects or work with your advisor to find unique options that will allow you to participate directly in research that will further your career.
Actively network with industry professionals, many of whom are eager and willing to serve as mentors, providing insight and life experience, by mining your current network. Attend career fairs and explore industry-specific job boards and websites. Many semiconductor companies use modern platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Handshake to facilitate the recruitment and hiring process - be there. Creating and cultivating your online presence is a great way to stand out while enabling you to control your professional brand. Employees will find your online profile, so remember to keep it professional.
The semiconductor sector actively welcomes fresh talent, with numerous open positions driven by industry growth. This accessibility and demand for new talent make it an attractive option for those seeking a smooth transition from academics to their first professional role, addressing one of the foremost concerns of every undergraduate – securing a job to kick-start their career.
The semiconductor industry presents a compelling opportunity for a career journey, driven by the synergy of rapid technological advancements, surging demand, diverse applications, global challenges, and competitive compensation. Now is the ideal time to embark on a career in semiconductors. This dynamic and vital field is teeming with opportunities. Capitalize on this strong demand for new talent by positioning your strengths, skills, and uniqueness. Each of you has so much to offer this industry.
The semiconductor industry extends a welcoming embrace to undergraduates seeking an exciting and fulfilling career path. The timing couldn't be better, with a critical need for talent, rapid technological advancements, and lucrative financial prospects. But beyond the tangible benefits, it offers the chance to make a lasting impact on society, tackle sustainability challenges, and be part of a supportive and dynamic community of innovators. If you're an aspiring innovator seeking a rewarding future, the semiconductor industry is your gateway to success.
How will you make your entrance into the #semiconductorindustry? Share your story, tag us, and use the #imin hashtag to tell the world what you’re excited about.
- SRC MAPT Roadmap, Sustainability and Energy Efficiency Chapter 2, https://srcmapt.org/chapter2/
- Strategies to lead in the semiconductor world, McKinsey & Co., https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/semiconductors/our-insights/strategies-to-lead-in-the-semiconductor-world
- U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/home.htm and https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm
- SRC MAPT Roadmap, Workforce Development, Chapter 11, KSA matrix, page 199, https://srcmapt.org/chapter11/
- Find current GRC Project Leaders and JUMP 2.0 Project Leaders