A Guide for Aspiring PCB Designers in the Job Market

Are you a graduate of electrical engineering or someone seeking relevant experience and feeling lost? With the constant evolution of science and technology, electronic products have become an integral part of our daily lives, and this is due to the contribution of PCB designersIf you want to become a PCB designer or engineer, this report is very suitable for you. It covers a comprehensive introduction to the career development prospects, salary and benefits related to this job.

Job Responsibilities and Skill Requirements

Job Responsibilities

The tasks of a PCB designer include carrying out the design based on schematic and structures, which involves layout, wiring, post-processing, inspection, and other activities to ensure that the designed PCB meets the required performance and production standards.

Furthermore, designers perform SI (Signal Integrity) and PI (Power Integrity) simulations on key circuit layouts, analyze simulation results, and optimize designs accordingly. Then sort out all the documents required for manufacturing such as Gerber files, BOM and CPL files according to the correct design. Finally, the designer must communicate and coordinate with the manufacturer’s production department or engineering team.

Skill Requirements

According to company requirements, design engineers need to be proficient in using CAD software. Different software programs have distinct techniques, shortcuts, and features. For circuit design, a solid understanding of PCB design rules and the details that impact electrical performance is necessary. Designers in specific industries must also be familiar with industry standards and regulations. Additionally, having knowledge of the manufacturing process can be beneficial for a designer’s work.

PCB Designer Salary Range

Work in Company

Most designers work for companies, and their primary concerns include salary, job role, and location. In other words, it’s the classic dilemma of ‘more money, less work, closer to home.’ Among these, salary is the most significant factor. Salaries can vary significantly depending on the country and city. For example, wages in countries like India and Pakistan are generally much lower than in developed countries like the United States and Canada. Below is a list of the top ten cities in the United States with the highest salaries for PCB designers and their salary ranges, compiled by TechSparks.

CityAnnual SalaryMonthly PayWeekly PayHourly Wage
San Jose, CA$118,657$9,888$2,281$57.05
Jackson, WY$117,780$9,815$2,265$56.63
Oakland, CA$117,728$9,810$2,264$56.60
Vallejo, CA$115,739$9,644$2,225$55.64
Hayward, CA$115,127$9,593$2,213$55.35
Seattle, WA$115,059$9,588$2,212$55.32
Santa Barbara, CA$114,196$9,516$2,196$54.90
Sunnyvale, CA$113,613$9,467$2,184$54.62
Concord, CA$113,455$9,454$2,181$54.55
Barnstable Town, MA$113,290$9,440$2,178$54.47

Freelancers

Fiverr PCB Designer

Not everyone is keen on conforming to the rules and regulations of a company. Third-party platforms like Fiverr offer a plethora of part-time job opportunities for those seeking to supplement their income, such as freelancers who value independence, college students who need living expenses, and more.

On Fiverr, for instance, one can post their abilities and skills and await offers from small businesses or other organizations requiring those services. According to freelance PCB design engineering job postings on Fiverr, small projects may pay between $10 to $20 per hour, while larger projects could potentially pay up to $30 to $50 per hour.

In addition to basic design projects, one can also earn money by writing articles related to printed circuits. Interestingly, many manufacturers’ websites online feature content from external contributors rather than in-house designers or engineers. If you are knowledgeable about electrical circuits and a US citizen, you could make $50-$100 for writing a 500-1000 word article.

Employment Prospects for PCB Designers

Market Demand Grows

The demand for PCB designers has been steadily increasing in recent years due to the rapid development of various industries. According to a report by Zion Market Research, the global PCB market is expected to reach approximately USD 89.7 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 4.9%. This growth trend provides a promising outlook for the PCB design industry and related job opportunities.

In the consumer electronics industry, designers play a decisive role in the development of new products. With the continuous introduction of new electronic products and the demand for product miniaturization, companies are constantly seeking experienced designers to create high-quality and compact PCB layouts. In the automotive industry, engineers play an important role in the design of electronic control units (ECUs) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which require high reliability and safety. In the medical equipment industry, designers contribute to the development of medical devices, such as imaging equipment and patient monitoring systems, which require high precision and stability.

Emergence of New Technologies

As new technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing continue to emerge, designers will need to continuously update their knowledge and skills to meet the demands of the market. While these new technologies have opened up new opportunities for some, they may have also made it more challenging for others to keep up.

Therefore, as a printed circuit board designer, it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends, and continuously improve one’s skills and knowledge. This will not only help to stay competitive in the job market, but also enable one to contribute to the development of new and innovative electronic products. By keeping up with the latest developments in the field, designers can remain relevant and in-demand, and be well-positioned for future job opportunities.

Preparing for a Career in PCB Design

PCB Designer Interview Questions​

  1. Have you designed PCB before? If so, what tools do you feel most comfortable using?
  2. Do you have experience with different types of PCB designs, such as multilayer, high-frequency, HDI or others?
  3. Can you describe your process for ensuring that your PCB design meets specifications and functions correctly in your product?
  4. Have you designed high-speed or high-frequency circuits? If so, what techniques do you use to address signal integrity issues?
  5. Have you utilized industry standards like IPC or MIL-STD in your designs? If so, how did you implement them?
  6. Can you discuss your experience designing power electronics PCB, specifically addressing layout considerations for high-power and high-voltage circuits?
  7. What software do you prefer to use for schematic capture and layout, and why?
  8. Have you worked on PCB designs for RF circuits? If so, what techniques have you used to optimize performance?
  9. How do you collaborate with other members of the product development team, such as mechanical engineers, firmware developers, and project managers?
  10. Can you describe a challenging PCB design project you have worked on and how you approached and resolved design issues?

PCB Designer Resume

The first step to success in finding a job as a PCB design engineer is to send your resume to interested companies. However, with many job seekers applying for the same position, it’s important to make sure your resume stands out from the competition. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Customize your resume to fit the job description;
  2. Highlight your work experience and include position timelines;
  3. Demonstrate your understanding of PCB industry standards;
  4. Showcase your software skills;
  5. Emphasize your unique skills;
  6. Share examples of your past work experiences.

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