How to Become a Circuit Designer


Although there are other paths to take, the most common way to become a circuit designer is to follow these essential steps:


1. Make sure you have the right personal traits for this work

2. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in electrical, electronic or electrical engineering

3. Get work experience as a student via internship and co-op opportunities

4. Get an entry-level job in circuit design after graduation

5. Earn professional certification in relevant fields

6. Advance into senior-level roles, management roles, or consultancy as you gain experience


Below we've expanded on these points, to give you a complete idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a circuit designer in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as what you’ll be doing, what you could earn, and a list of job postings in your area!



What Education Will I Need?

To work as a circuit designer, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in Electrical, Electronics or Computer Engineering, or a related field. Some employers might require a master’s or doctoral degree, particularly for research or teaching positions. 


A degree in any one of these fields will help prepare you for both the technical and the theoretical aspects of work in this field. They will also have internship or co-op work placements built into their curriculum, so you will graduate with practical experience under your belt.





What Courses Should I Take in High School?

Excelling at math (calculus, algebra, geometry), computer science, design studies and electronics will serve as excellent preparation for this career while you’re a high school student. Be sure to do well in these areas if you have the opportunity to take any of these courses. 


Excelling at coursework and gaining experience in these areas will help prepare you for the work involved in this career at an early age, and will help you qualify for engineering degree programs.



What Experience Will I Need?

Most entry-level circuit design jobs don’t require any work experience above what you gain as part of an internship while completing your engineering degree. Mid and senior-level roles often require 1-5 years of experience working in lower-level roles, with progressive amounts of responsibility in those roles, as well as certification in an area specified by your employer. 



What Licensing/Certification Will I Need?

Depending on the industry in which your employer operates, they may require that you obtain any number of possible certifications. For entry-level positions, you likely won’t need any specific licensing or certification; oftentimes you’ll just need a bachelor’s degree. Advancement to senior-level positions may require a license or certification in some area.



What is a Circuit Designer?

Circuit designers are electronic, electrical or computer engineers that work to create circuit boards used in electronic devices of all sorts, ranging from power grids to airplane assembly automation. They are responsible for either modifying existing or creating new circuit designs that allow electronic products to function as intended.



What Do They Do?

Although specific duties can vary from job to job, circuit designers are generally responsible for the following:


• Receiving product specifications from other departments or management 

• Using specifications as a guideline for developing or improving circuits or circuit boards

• Possibly turning conceptual designs into functioning circuits

• Performing laboratory tests using equipment such as a Network Analyzer, Spectrum Analyzer or Power Meter

• Conferring with layout technicians regarding circuit implementation

• Using computer assisted design (CAD) software, and other software applications

• Creating signal processing filters, which extract information from electrical currents and voltages





What Traits Do I Need to Be Successful? 

If you have the following personal traits you'll not only be well suited for work as a circuit designer, you should be a standout:


• You’re interested in a well-paying career that makes use of your technical capabilities

• You can work effectively with a small team for the duration of a project 

• You can design electronic circuits for a variety of purposes (communication, travel, navigation, power systems, etc.)

• You’re committed to staying up to date with relevant technological innovations

• You're willing to work overtime when required, and possibly travel for work

• You have a keen interest in electrical/electronic or computer engineering (for example, you work on ham radios, rewire your house, or build electronics as a hobby)



What is the Typical Salary of a Circuit Designer?

The salary you could earn as a circuit designer can vary based on many factors, including:


• Your level of education, experience and certification

• The level of responsibility involved in your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• If you receive any medical, dental, vision, profit sharing, and/or retirement benefits

• Many other factors


Circuit Designer Salary - Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the overall average salary of Albertans working in the “Electrical and electronics engineers” occupational group is $95,528 per year, while the average salary of those working in the “Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)” group is $88,149 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 5, 2019).


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall median salary level of Americans working in the “Electrical and Electronics Engineers" occupational group is $95,230 per year, while that of workers in the “Computer Hardware Engineers” group is $111,730 per year. 



Who Employs Circuit Designers?

Although some circuit designers work as in-house employees of organizations in various industries, most work as employees (or contractors) of electronic or electrical engineering firms that contract their services to outside companies. 


There are many different residential, commercial and industrial applications for the services of a circuit designer, including power distribution, transportation (such as aircraft component design), IT, lighting and lighting controls, security and fire alarms, communications systems, assembly automation, and many others.


Success Tip: With enough experience, you could choose to become a specialist in one of these areas.



Job Opportunities - Postings

Our job board below has "Circuit Designer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available:



What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you’re willing to constantly learn and improve your craft and expand your knowledge, then you'll see plenty of career advancement opportunities.


With a proven track record of success, and possibly industry certification, you could move into project management roles, become a specialist in a particular field, work in research or become a self-employed design or engineering consultant.



What Are Some Similar Careers?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “circuit designer”:


• Avionics Technician

• Computer Systems Engineer

• Design Engineer

• Electrical Engineer

• Electrician

• Electronics Engineer

• Hardware Engineer

• Test Engineer



What Scholarships Are Relevant for Getting Into This Field? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a circuit designer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our  “Computer Engineering Scholarships” and “Electrical Engineering Scholarships” pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a circuit designer:


• Occupational Profile: “Electrical Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved February 16, 2017.

• Occupational Profile: “Computer Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved February 16, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Electrical and Electronics Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved February 16, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Computer Hardware Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved February 16, 2017.


Please Note: The rest of the information used for this career guide was pulled from actual Circuit Designer job postings, which due to their brief online nature, are not listed here as references. 



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant for entering this profession. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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