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Fresh graduate career advice in Chip Design

  1. May 7, 2016 #1
    I have recently passed the Electronics Engineering Licensure exam in the philippines and I'm plannning to pursue a career in chip design preferrably mixed signal or digital. I have applied at different semiconductor companies. The problem is they don't design the IC's here, they only conduct tests and troubleshooting. I am planning to work as a test engineer for a while then work in japan or the US after 5 years. I will most likely go to the US rather than Japan since I am a dual US/Filipino Citizen.

    I humbly ask for any advice on how I could increase my skills and experience in order to compete with applicants in the US within 5 years or 7 years. i am willing to take up my masters degree and to devote most of my free time to studying. I know that the competition would be tough since there are also skilled and experienced applicants coming from other countries, which is why I am taking this preparation seriously.

    Also, what documents would I need in order to work in the US. Right now, I only have my US passport, birth certificate and a social security card. Also my academic records started excellent with many As and A+, but I slowly grew tired and got a lot of low grades and even 1 failing grade. Although, I was among the top 10 in the national electronics engineering licensure exam with over 6000 examinees all over the country with only 33% national passing rate, would that be enough to compensate for my poor grades at the university. Thank you for your time, and any reply would be appreciated
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2016 #2


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    Hi there,

    I'm a mixed-signal design engineer working in California so I can hopefully help. First off, since you have a US passport and social security card you are all set when it comes to living and working in the USA. When you get hired you will need to show your passport and social security card but you need no other documents. The US is much more open to hiring engineers from overseas than Japan so I agree planning on the US is smart.

    I am not familiar with your Licensure. Do you have a college degree in Electrical Engineering? I can tell you that for the most part the entry-level degree for an IC designer is the MS, with the PhD common (especially in mixed-signal work). if it is possible, I highly recommend you go to graduate school in EE with a focus on IC design in the US if you want to work here. It will make it much, much easier for you to obtain employment.

    Also, you didn't ask about this but I should say that mixed-signal and digital design are quite different. They use very different tools and analysis techniques, so it is incredibly difficult to be an expert in both. So pick one. In California, there are many fewer mixed-signal jobs than digital jobs, but also many fewer qualified applicants so I would say mixed-signal is a hotter area. However, companies tend to value graduate work in mixed-signal design due to the nature of the work. It is very, very hard to find a mixed-signal designer under the age of 40 with just a BS.

    So my advice is simple. Get an MS in EE with a specialization in IC design from a US university. Working as a test engineer would be good experience while you apply to graduate schools and will help with your application (as will your fantastic performance on the licensure exam).

    Good luck!
  4. May 16, 2016 #3
    Thanks for answering my questions. I have a degree in Electronics Engineering. I'll follow your advice to take up graduate school in the US. For now, I still have to work and save money to study in the US. Can I just take my MS here and take my Ph.D in the US, or would that be more difficult?
  5. May 16, 2016 #4


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    If it is possible, the best path forward would be to get admitted directly to a PhD program in the US and get your MS along the way. Universities often, but not always, offer support to their MS students who are in the PhD program. Otherwise, an MS in your country would probably be ok. I would try to get work in the US with the MS while I was applying to PhD programs but that is up to you to decide.
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