With no doubt, pursuing a career in electrical engineering is very awarding; you will be very well-paid, and there are many job opportunities in these field.
One of the most important fields related to electrical engineering is the electronics engineering. An electronics engineer can work in either the analogue or digital electronics. Nowadays, digital electronics is the dominant in most industries. In this post, we will discuss the electronics engineering job outlook, and the different fields an electronics engineer can work at.
The most important fields you can work at and that will be covered in this post:
- FPGA (field programmable gate arrays) design and verification;
- ASIC (application specific integrated circuits) design and verification;
- PCB (printed circuit board) design;
- Embedded Systems.
Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs)
FPGAS are integrated circuits that offer the designers the ability to configure them after being already manufactured. From its name, an FPGA consists of arrays of logic gates that can be connected together by simply programming them with languages such as VHDL or Verilog. Also, using coding, it is possible to reconfigure those connections such that the design can change and they can be reconnected at another way.
To work in FPGAs, the two most important fields are either design or verification. If you are a designer, your job description will include:
- determine the system requirements and make the high level design of the system according to them;
- implement the system using programming languages such as the VHDL or Verilog;
- simulate the system to make sure it meets the functional requirements and non-functional requirements such as the speed, reliability, and quality;
- make the design synthesis process (transforming the abstract RTL design into a logic gate based design to be ready for implementation);
- programming the FPGA kit.
Regarding the verification process, it is usually done at each step of the design to ensure everything is going in the right way. The verification engineer job description usually includes:
- making test plans and test scenarios for the different stages of the project;
- constructing the verification environment;
- writing test cases;
- discovering the largest possible number of bugs and cooperate with the designers to fix them.
To work in designing and verifying FPGAs, you need to have a very strong knowledge about electronics, be proficient in using the programming languages used in the process (VHDL and Verilog), know how to use the simulation tools such as ModelSim, and be able to use a synthesis software such as Vivado or Quartus.
Actually, you will find that each company uses a different type of software for simulation and synthesis, so you can just try using one of them to be familiar with the process. You do not have to learn them all. Rather, you should put more effort to be proficient in programming languages such as Verilog and VHDL.
ASIC Design and Verification
Unlike FPGAs, ASICs (application specific integrated circuits) are integrated circuits made for custom applications, not programmable and reconfigurable. The ASIC chip is only manufactured after the design is complete and ready. Its specifications can not change after manufacturing.
Same as FPGAs, the most important two fields to work at in ASICs are either design or verification. The design and verification procedures of both are similar. Also, programming languages such as VHDL, and Verilog are used in ASICs design. Nevertheless, designing ASICs is usually more difficult and requires more knowledge, as the chip is designed from scratch for custom specifications.
To work in designing and verifying ASICs, knowledge about VHDL, and Verilog languages are very important. Also, you should be familiar with the software programs used for simulations. Moreover, learning how to design the layout of the required chip is of extreme importance, and practicing layout software programs such as cadence or Mentor graphics will be very useful too.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are the boards in which electronic components are connected together to form a complete circuit with a specific function. The components usually include ICs, resistors, capacitors, sensors, timers, inductors, batteries…etc.
The PCB design process usually includes the schematic design then the layout design; both are usually made using computer software programs.
The schematic design is just drawing the electrical circuit. This requires good understanding of the essential electrical engineering knowledge, electrical circuit design rules, and electronic components.
The layout design is the operation which transforms the schematic design to a product which is ready to transfer from the software program to the real PCB.
In order to work as a PCB designer, you should know well the electrical circuit design basics, and be familiar with the software programs used to design the schematic and layout of the PCB such as NI Ultiboard, Ultium Designer, SolidWorks, or KiCad.
An embedded system is a kind of systems that is always a part of a larger system, which can be an electrical, mechanical or a hydraulic system. They usually have a dedicated function that contributes to the larger system function.
Embedded systems are available at many industries, because usually any system, vehicle, or device contain an embedded system or more as a part of it; that is why there are many embedded system engineering vacancies out there. If you plan to work in the embedded systems field, here are the most popular career paths you can take:
- Embedded Systems Software Engineering
- Embedded Systems Hardware Engineering
- Embedded Systems Software Testing
- Embedded Systems Hardware Testing
The embedded systems software and hardware engineers are responsible for implementing the systems, while the testers’ responsibility is to ensure the systems are bug free, and to ensure their reliability, compatibility, and functionability.
Click here to know more about the different Embedded systems engineering disciplines.
As we said above, pursuing a career in electronics engineering is awarding in terms of salary, and there are many job opportunities available. However, there is a tough competition on these opportunities due to the number of applicants.
If you would like to take a path in electronic engineering, to stand out the crowd, you should plan for this early when you are still in the university. Give a special interest to electronics courses in the university; make sure you understand very well the fundamental concepts of electrical circuit design and different electronic components; study and acquire the skills of the VHDL, Verilog, C, C++ programming languages. It will be also a good idea if you choose your graduation project to cover the topic you are most interested in. There are also many other ways to support your career.
In case you have already graduated, you may have to start your job search journey. If you still do not have one, you should consider creating a professional resume. You can refer to our resume writing tips, or for a more professionally created resume, you can consider a resume writing service. Ready to search for a job now? Check or job search guide.
In case you have something to share, or a question, please leave a comment below. As I say every post, we all have the same goal, to help each other to become better.