Given the importance of R&D to the industry, it is not surprising that a large proportion-about 3 in 10-of all workers are in professional and related occupations. About 12 percent of these are engineers-predominately electrical and electronics engineers and computer hardware engineers, but also including many industrial and mechanical engineers. These workers develop new products and devise better, more efficient production methods. Engineers may coordinate and lead teams developing new products. Others may work with customers to help them make the best use of the products. Computer systems analysts, database administrators, and computer scientists are employed throughout the industry as both development and production methods become more computerized. Other professionals include mathematical and physical scientists, and technical writers.
About 6 percent of workers are engineering technicians, many of whom work closely with engineers. They help develop new products, work in production areas, and sometimes help customers install, maintain, and repair equipment. They also may test new products or processes to make sure everything works correctly.
Despite the relatively high proportion of professional and technical workers in electronics manufacturing, more than 3 out of 10 employees are production workers. Many are assemblers, who place and solder components on circuit boards, or assemble and connect the various parts of electronic devices. Semiconductor processors initiate and control the many automated steps in the process of manufacturing integrated circuits or computer chips. Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers are responsible for putting together products, such as computers and appliances, telecommunications equipment, and even missile control systems. Some assemblers are highly skilled and require significant experience and training to assemble major components. A skilled assembler may put together an entire subassembly, or even an entire product, especially when products are made in relatively small numbers. Other, less skilled assemblers often work on a production line, attaching one or a few parts and continually repeating the same operation. Increasingly, as production work becomes more automated, assemblers and other production workers monitor the machinery that actually does the assembly work. Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers use sophisticated testing machinery to ensure that devices operate as designed.
About 14 percent of workers in the industry are in management, business, and financial operations occupations. In this industry, top management is much more likely to have a technical background than are its counterparts in other industries. This is especially true in smaller companies, which often are founded by engineers, computer scientists, or other technical professionals.
About 14 percent of workers in this industry hold office and administrative support or sales and related jobs. Sales positions require technical knowledge and abilities and, as a result, engineers and technicians often may find opportunities in sales or sales support.