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Semiconductor Manufacturing Careers

tech inspecting silicon wafer

The industry that produces these microchips is highly competitive. Each chip is in a constant state of redesign, refined to process more information faster and at an increasingly lower cost. Microchips are fabricated from a single piece, or chip, of a silicon wafer. When properly treated, silicon assumes properties halfway between “conductors” such as copper and gold and “insulators” such as plastics and ceramics, making it a semiconductor. By correctly manipulating these properties throughout the manufacturing process, a complex network is formed on the silicon chip.

The semiconductor manufacturing technology technician is responsible for product operation, equipment monitoring, equipment adjustment and both routine and emergency repair and maintenance of the many different pieces of equipment it takes to make a modern semiconductor chip. 

Semiconductors are in:

  • Auto/anti-lock brakes
  • Cellphones
  • Computers
  • Fax machines
  • Hearing aids
  • Microwaves
  • Pacemakers
  • Satellites
  • Stereos
  • Telephones
  • Traffic lights
  • Video games

What Can I Do With This Degree?

Entry-level positions generally require a high school diploma or GED and an associate degree. Jobs include:

  • Semiconductor manufacturing specialist: Manufacturing associates/operators convert silicon wafers to packaged integrated circuit products.
  • Equipment technician: Facilities equipment technicians troubleshoot, install, repair and service all of the specialized equipment and instruments used in making chips.
  • Process technician: Equipment and process technicians troubleshoot and maintain the equipment and process used in wafer manufacturing.
  • Electronics technician

What Skills Do I Need?

  • A foundation in science and math
  • Interpersonal skills
  • A sense of responsibility
  • Computer literacy
  • Strong communication skills
  • An aptitude for technology and electronics

And the ability to:

  • Stay current in work skills
  • Deal with change
  • Appreciate a diverse workplace
  • Team with others on projects
  • Be a flexible, self-directed team player

Employment Opportunities and Salaries

Although employment opportunities for semiconductor technicians across the nation are expected to decrease somewhat in the next decade, local employment opportunities are in higher demand for skilled workers, mostly because of the presence of Texas Instruments’ manufacturing plant in Dallas.

Semiconductor manufacturing technicians have the possibility of doubling starting salary in as little as seven to 10 years. Many companies offer opportunities to transfer within the company to numerous locations, including foreign countries.

America’s Career Infonet gives information about the job duties and working conditions for:

    Job Hourly Rate Annual Median Salary Projected Job Growth Through 2020
    Semiconductor processors $15.91 $33,100 N/A