Electronic engineering: industry sector overview
The electronics industry is responsible for the creation of new technology that all consumers use or will be using in the future. There are lots of different sub-sets of the electronics industry.
A semiconductor company designs chips or integrated circuits, which are a set of electronic circuits on semiconductor material, typically silicon. Other types of electronics companies design passive components such as resistors and capacitors or manufacture silicon itself.
Consumer electronics companies then take the chips and other components and use them to design products such as smartphones and tablets, washing machines and microwaves etc, that everybody uses.
Engineers may work in different areas: design of the chips, layout (turning the design into a physical layer of silicon), manufacturing, packaging, testing and field application engineering (supporting the customer at the next stage of production technically while they use the product).
Trends and developments in the electronics industry
At the moment the main focus of the industry is on wireless charging, the Internet of Things and contactless payments, but the focus may change each year. Aspiring engineers should be aware that there have been a number of mergers within the industry in recent years.
What it's like working in electronics
Working in the electronics sector is generally very fast paced due to the constant evolution of technology. Team sizes can range from around 5–10 people up to much bigger teams of 50 plus. Team size really depends on the product or customer and how quickly it must be completed.
Engineers will normally work on one product at a time but this can also change depending on the location and department worked in.
Getting a graduate engineering job in the electronics industry
Students will normally have studied electronic engineering at university, but sometimes those from a physics and software background are also recruited. It can often be a lot easier to get a permanent position after completing an internship at a company.
Typical career progression begins with a graduate engineer and moves through the post of engineer to become a senior engineer. Once you've obtained senior experience, career paths tend to diverge. Some want to stay technical, while others may move into a management-focused role. There are ample opportunities to advance your career whichever path you take. Professional qualifications such as CEng or IEng are not essential.
Electronics companies tend to have offices worldwide, which provides good opportunities for international travel.
The highlights of a career in electronics
- Working on new technology everyone uses.
- Getting an insight into future technologies.
- There are plenty of opportunities for international travel should you choose..
The electronics industry seeks graduates from the following disciplines:
Thanks to Adam Malpass for his help with this article. Adam is an analog design engineer at Dialog Semiconductor. He has an MEng in electronic engineering from the University of Southampton. In 2010, he was shortlisted for the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards. He currently works in Tokyo and has five years' experience in the industry.