Job opportunities for CE and EE

  • #1
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I am looking to major in Computer Engineering or Electrical Engineering and wanted to learn more about the majors. What I am most interested in is what job opportunities are available after college for each of the majors.
From the research I have done it seems like EE (in Ohio) mostly do control systems and laying out electric systems for buildings. I have heard that if I'm willing to get a masters degree and move to California I would also have the ability to design semiconductors and design circuit boards. Is there still a demand for semiconductors and circuit building in the US though or is it a risk to try to get into that? Is my research correct? What else is possible with an EE degree?

For CE I have concluded that most of what I'd be able to do is programming in C (like embedded programming). I've heard that you learn about system level programming also but there aren't really jobs available in that field. What else would be possible for a CE degree? Also are CE majors able to do control systems? Are they able to design semiconductors and design circuit boards if they are willing to relocate?

So basically for anyone in EE or CE, what do you do on an average day and what possibilities are there to do within you major?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I'm a senior electrical engineering student from New Jersey. Good choice, I've really enjoyed what I've learned so far. The job opportunities for both EE and CE are vast. While you are correct that a lot of the semiconductor research/manufacturing is done in California, there are definitely places around you. A quick google search reveals that Rambus has an Ohio location (they are (were) a big memory manufacturer). Manufacturing semiconductor products is really expensive and thus only a (relatively) small number of companies are involved in that. Circuit boards on the other hand can be designed by almost any company. (I've even designed and built a few). So as you can see, there are two sides here. 1.) Manufacturing individual parts and 2.) Designing circuits which use those parts. There are many more jobs for the second option.

When people ask "What does an EE do?", I usually respond with "An EE designs the inner workings of anything that plugs into a wall or runs off a battery". Industrial controls, automotive, healthcare/biomedical, aerospace/defense, consumer products. Literally so many options.

Computer engineering is very similar to EE, from what I know at least. Technically, there's shouldn't be that much more programming involved in getting a CE degree. CE is more concerned with how computational hardware works and perhaps how it interacts with software.
 
  • #3
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I'm a senior electrical engineering student from New Jersey. Good choice, I've really enjoyed what I've learned so far. The job opportunities for both EE and CE are vast. While you are correct that a lot of the semiconductor research/manufacturing is done in California, there are definitely places around you. A quick google search reveals that Rambus has an Ohio location (they are (were) a big memory manufacturer). Manufacturing semiconductor products is really expensive and thus only a (relatively) small number of companies are involved in that. Circuit boards on the other hand can be designed by almost any company. (I've even designed and built a few). So as you can see, there are two sides here. 1.) Manufacturing individual parts and 2.) Designing circuits which use those parts. There are many more jobs for the second option.

When people ask "What does an EE do?", I usually respond with "An EE designs the inner workings of anything that plugs into a wall or runs off a battery". Industrial controls, automotive, healthcare/biomedical, aerospace/defense, consumer products. Literally so many options.

Computer engineering is very similar to EE, from what I know at least. Technically, there's shouldn't be that much more programming involved in getting a CE degree. CE is more concerned with how computational hardware works and perhaps how it interacts with software.
How did you find the place in Rambus Ohio? How do you know if they actually employ EE majors there and don't just outsource all that work offshore? Also, what do you think CE work in the Ohio area is like? What is on demand around here?
 
  • #4
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How did you find the place in Rambus Ohio? How do you know if they actually employ EE majors there and don't just outsource all that work offshore? Also, what do you think CE work in the Ohio area is like? What is on demand around here?
I literally just searched "semiconductor jobs ohio". It's really not worth it to outsource that kind of work. A "fabless" company (meaning they don't have the equipment/factory to manufacture a chip) might collaborate with an overseas manufacturer to get their design made but most of the design work is going to be done in the US. EE/CE jobs are really not in danger. If a company has anything to do with electronics design/manufacturing, they're going to employ EEs/CEs.

And I really have no clue what the job market would be like in Ohio but I think you're just as likely to get a job there as you are in most other states. Remember, the company you work for doesn't necessarily have to be about electronics directly. They might manufacture a much larger product that requires custom electronics to work.
 
  • #5
analogdesign
Science Advisor
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I gotta disagree with you here, Tim. There is still significant IC design work here in the States but the growth is primarily in China and India. I've worked for two companies and both of them had more designers overseas than in the US, and most of the hiring was overseas. Sad but true. Another issue is that electronics is no longer really a growth industry (all the investment is in software) so there is a lot of consolidation among design companies and manufacturers. Not to rain on your parade but these are the facts on the ground.

There are a few companies that are still committed to American design talent but one of them (Linear Technology) was recently purchased by Analog Devices.
 
  • #6
StatGuy2000
Education Advisor
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I gotta disagree with you here, Tim. There is still significant IC design work here in the States but the growth is primarily in China and India. I've worked for two companies and both of them had more designers overseas than in the US, and most of the hiring was overseas. Sad but true. Another issue is that electronics is no longer really a growth industry (all the investment is in software) so there is a lot of consolidation among design companies and manufacturers. Not to rain on your parade but these are the facts on the ground.

There are a few companies that are still committed to American design talent but one of them (Linear Technology) was recently purchased by Analog Devices.
analogdesign, would you thus suggest that the OP not major in CE or EE, for the reasons you cited above? If not, what major would be more employable in the US?
 
  • #7
analogdesign
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analogdesign, would you thus suggest that the OP not major in CE or EE, for the reasons you cited above? If not, what major would be more employable in the US?
I wouldn't say that at all. EE is still obviously a highly viable career with many opportunities going forward. What I was responding to was Tim's baseless assertion that "most of the design work is going to be done in the US. EE/CE jobs are really not in danger". This simply isn't true.

I don't have visibility into all areas of EE, but there is a cold wind blowing in the semiconductor world (if you're American). This is mostly due to industry consolidation (fewer companies = less competition = less overall design work) but also in part due to off-shoring. I probably would gently discourage my son from studying IC Design at this point (unless he were passionate about it), but would be thrilled with EE in general.

I should say that while integrated circuits is no longer the booming growth industry it once was, it will continue to create jobs. Whether it creates them at the rate people are educated is an open question.
 
  • #8
StatGuy2000
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I wouldn't say that at all. EE is still obviously a highly viable career with many opportunities going forward. What I was responding to was Tim's baseless assertion that "most of the design work is going to be done in the US. EE/CE jobs are really not in danger". This simply isn't true.

I don't have visibility into all areas of EE, but there is a cold wind blowing in the semiconductor world (if you're American). This is mostly due to industry consolidation (fewer companies = less competition = less overall design work) but also in part due to off-shoring. I probably would gently discourage my son from studying IC Design at this point (unless he were passionate about it), but would be thrilled with EE in general.

I should say that while integrated circuits is no longer the booming growth industry it once was, it will continue to create jobs. Whether it creates them at the rate people are educated is an open question.
Then let me follow up this response with the following: given that there is a cold wind blowing in the semiconductor world (and thus the area of IC design), what other area (to your knowledge) within EE would be especially lucrative or employable?
 
  • #9
analogdesign
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Then let me follow up this response with the following: given that there is a cold wind blowing in the semiconductor world (and thus the area of IC design), what other area (to your knowledge) within EE would be especially lucrative or employable?
Based on discussions I had last spring with some professors from my alma mater, there is a growing opportunity for power systems engineers. The national grid is going through a painful period of modernization and many variable renewable energy sources are causing significant stress on the system. For example, local solar and wind generation is bursty and tends towards destabilizing the grid, so the pace of new technologies are coming on line to deal with these developments is faster than it has been in many decades. The grid itself is becoming orders-of-magnitudes more complex and fragmented due to improved instrumentation and storage technologies and there is a growing need there for increasingly well-trained engineers.

If I were studying now, I'd probably go into microelectronics again because I'm passionate about it, to be honest. But if I were trying to read the tea leaves I would place my bet on power distribution and generation.
 
  • #10
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Along these lines, are there opportunities for self employment in microelectronics?

I am hesitant to go into this area given that the value of your knowledge appears to hinge on a large company willing to pay large sums of money to get prototypes made. If you can't get hired it appears your skillset is essentially worthless.

Is my interpretation wrong?
 
  • #11
analogdesign
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Sure, plenty of people work as consultants but that is more a contractor-type job. Higher pay, but without benefits and with less stability.

Microelectronics fabrication is expensive. Even using 18 year old technology (180 nm) it still costs $18k to get prototypes made and then over $100k for a mask set. Modern technology is much more expensive than that. So, yeah, you're going to have to work for a company. The design tools themselves are ludicrously expensive. You can get cheap tools, but then you won't be able to compete on performance... you'll need to go after niche markets.

I don't want to give the wrong impression that it's hopeless. It is just there is more competition than there used to be and growth has slowed so companies are starting to buy each other up to keep growth happening (for a while).

If you're passionate about the work, and you're good, there are and will be good opportunities. The work is incredibly fascinating. I'm one of the only people I know who jumps out of bed and is excited to go into work (mostly). It's just not the gravy train some people seem to think it is, that's all.
 
  • #12
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I understand, I'm deciding on if I want to go into IC design or not for graduate specialization. While I have an interest in analog circuits and basic RF, I'm kind of reaching the conclusion that I don't really want to pigeonholed into this area since your knowledge ends up not really being as broadly applicable as other areas which focus more on using technology(embedded development) or processing data/control systems.

The other thing is, as new technology comes out what you learned could become rapidly outdated(I don't know whats currently going on in this front but it seems MOS transistors have existed for a long time)
 
  • #13
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Okay, sorry I was really under the impression that there was still quite a bit of design work being done in the US. Maybe it's not solely in the US as it was a couple of decades ago but still jobs to be had. And actually AD and LT were exactly the companies that came to mind when I was writing my above response. Apologies for spreading (somewhat?) incorrect info.
 

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