Pros and Cons of an Analog Design Engineer Career
Analog design engineers use their knowledge of electrical engineering to develop the circuits found in various electronics, including cell phones, microphones, speakers and monitors. Check out the pros and cons of being an analog design engineer to see if it's the right fit for you.
|Pros of Being an Analog Design Engineer|
|High salary potential ($68,000-$133,000 in 2015)*|
|Improve a consumer product's quality**|
|Work in a variety of industries (government, research and development, computer design, manufacturing, etc.)*|
|Licensure can lead to career advancement***|
|Cons of Being an Analog Design Engineer|
|Many employers require master's degrees**|
|Low job growth (4% expected from 2012-2022)****|
|Most positions require at least 10 years of work experience**|
|Requires extensive technical knowledge**|
Sources: *PayScale.com, **July 2012 Monster.com job advertisements, *** National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, ****U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Career Information
Job Description and Duties
Analog design engineers are electronic or electrical engineers who specialize in developing electrical circuits that acquire data through the transmission of analog signals. Their goal is to design analog circuits that are cost-efficient, meet the customer's standards and are high-quality. As an analog design engineer, you'll make circuit designs using computer software, evaluate existing designs, suggest improvements and oversee the manufacturing process. Since analog signals are affected by changes in sound, temperature and light, these engineers also use computer stimulation programs to test circuits and find performance problems. Most of these tasks are performed in an office setting, although analog design engineers may sometimes visit manufacturing sites to oversee production.
Salary and Job Growth Info
The salary range for analog design engineers was $68,000-$133,000 in July 2015, according to PayScale.com. Several factors, such as years of experience, can affect how much you make as an analog design engineer. For example, those with 5-10 years of work experience earned higher salaries than those with 0-5 years of experience. Although the salary for analog design engineers is high, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects jobs in electrical and electronic engineering to increase only 4% from 2012-2022, which is considered slower than the average growth for all occupations.
What Are the Requirements?
Job postings from Monster.com show that employers require analog design engineers to have bachelor's or master's degrees in fields such as electrical engineering. Electrical engineering programs at the undergraduate and graduate level often allow students to specialize in areas such as electronic circuits, signal processing, microelectronics and analog electronics. Prospective students should attend colleges with programs approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET), which selects programs that best prepare graduates for careers in engineering.
Employers also look for analog design engineers with related work experience. You should gain work experience by completing a cooperative education program that combines classwork with field work and by working as a general electrical or electronic engineer. Skills that you'll need while working as an analog design engineer includes:
- Strong skills in technical documentation
- Analytical and problem solving skills
- Time management skills
What Employer's Are Looking for
Employers advertising for analog design engineers typically require candidates with either bachelor's or master's degrees. Job postings also look for applicants who have knowledge of mixed signal circuits as well as analog circuits. Some specific job postings open during July 2012 have shown the following:
- A company in Connecticut seeks an analog design engineer who has eight years of experience developing military space hardware, including telemetry systems and focal plane technologies. Candidates need bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering, but master's degrees are preferred.
- An electronics manufacturing company in California wants candidates with master's or doctoral degrees to design analog circuits for touch screen mobile devices. The employer requires applicants to have 12 years of related work experience and knowledge of radio frequency communication systems and liquid crystal display platforms. Other qualifications include strong communication, creativity and problem-solving skills.
- A Washington manufacturing corporation is looking for an analog design engineer who holds a bachelor's degree and has seven years of related work experience. The job requires designing low-frequency electronic circuits, working with a product development team and conducting tests on new designs. The employer prefers candidates with advanced degrees and knowledge of root cause analysis, electrical safety and electrical calibration.
- A California corporation that manufactures wireless products is advertising for candidates with excellent analytical skills and at least two years of work experience in industrial manufacturing. The job posting lists a master's degree and experience with computer programming and scripting as requirements.
Standing Out in the Field
You can set yourself apart from other job applicants by receiving the Professional Engineer license from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The NCEES awards the license to engineers who pass exams in specific fields of engineering, such as electrical and electronics engineering and computer engineering. To take the exam, you'll need to complete four years of work experience and a degree program accredited by the ABET. Not only does having a license demonstrate your skill and dedication, but it can also lead to career advancement since licensed engineers are the only engineers permitted to work as consultants, sign and seal designs, request government contracts and be in charge of engineering firms.
Additionally, you can increase your chances of employment by learning the technical knowledge and skills analog design engineers need. Employers typically require analog design engineers to have the following qualifications:
- Fluency with CAD software
- Familiarity with Cadence design tools, including Ultrasim and Spectre
- Experience performing acceptance testing on systems
- Familiarity with CMOS circuit design
- Ability to use simulation programs, including Pspice and Verilog
Alternative Career Paths
Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technician
If you wish to pursue a career in engineering, but don't want to earn a bachelor's or master's degree, you might become an electrical or electronic engineering technician. These technicians help engineers construct products by assembling prototypes, making sketches, recording data and solving equipment problems. To become an electrical or electronic engineering technician, you'll likely need an associate's degree. According to the BLS, electrical and electronic engineering technician jobs are expected to increase only 2% from 2010-2020. However, the BLS reported that the median salaries for these technicians is relatively high at about $57,000 as of May 2011.
Alternatively, you can use your associate's degree to become an electronics drafter. Drafters use computer design and drafting programs to make detailed diagrams that construction teams use to assemble circuit boards. Electronics drafters need strong critical thinking, communication, time management and technical skills to perform their job. The BLS reports the expected job growth for this career at 6% from 2010-2020 and that the median annual salaries were around $54,000 as of May 2011.
Architectural and Engineering Manager
If you're interested in a leadership position in the field of engineering, consider becoming a architectural and engineering manager. These managers oversee engineering programs by determining production goals, assigning workers to specific tasks and establishing budgets. Managers usually have bachelor's degrees in engineering or master's degrees in engineering management. The median annual salaries for architectural and engineering managers was about $122,000 in May 2011, according to the BLS.
Computer Hardware Engineer
After earning a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, you can become a computer hardware engineer and design components, including routers and circuit boards, needed for computers. Although computer hardware engineers can work in various industries including computer manufacturing, government agencies and computer design, the BLS expects job growth to increase only 9% from 2010-2020. The BLS also reported that computer hardware engineers brought in median wages of about $99,000 as of May 2011.