What Do Semiconductor Processors Do?
Semiconductor processors supervise the production of semiconductors, also called integrated circuits or microchips. You find these microchips in your phone, laptop and car. The duties of a semiconductor processor include loading material into furnaces, loading segments into crystal growing chambers and monitoring controls, and loading wafers into furnaces and chemical baths.Semiconductor processors work for semiconductor factories, employment agencies, navigational manufacturers and scientific research services, among others. Semiconductor factories operate 24 hours a day, so night and weekend work is typical. Some people work in 40-hour weekly shifts of eight hours each, while others work 12-hour shifts.Unfortunately, jobs in this profession are expected to decline 27 percent through 2022, at least in the United States. This is due to expanding automated processes and smaller, more complex chips that humans have difficulty working on. In addition, many U.S. plants are moving to countries where manufacturing is cheaper.
Semiconductor Processors Skills and Abilities
When you’re a semiconductor processor, you need science skills to understand the substances you’re working with. You must have knowledge of chemistry, electronics and manufacturing. Computer skills are also important because you’ll need to adjust program specifications. No doubt you’ll notice ways the manufacturing process can be improved, which is why you need communication skills to convey that information to your supervisors and co-workers. You must be detail-oriented and logical, with critical-thinking skills. Last but not least, dexterity is important to enable you to make precise cuts and operate equipment.
Semiconductor Processors Duties
Semiconductor processors are the people who largely take care of quality control in manufacturing. That means it’s your job to test equipment on a regular basis and to test chips for correct function. If there is an issue with a chip, you determine what caused it. As part of quality control, you do the following:
- Review work orders and processing charts to set schedules
- Supervise the machines slicing silicon crystals into wafers
- Clean and polish silicon wafers with robots
- Set and adjust controls for power level, temperature and other factors
- Suggest improvements to the manufacturing process.
Semiconductor Processors Tools and Technology
As a semiconductor processor, you work with tools such as gas blow torches, surface resistivity meters and semiconductor process systems. These include diffusion furnaces and automatic wafer cleaners. You wear antistatic wrist straps, and the technology you use includes semiconductor software, development environment software, industrial control software and Microsoft Office.
Education and Training for Semiconductor Processors
Most semiconductor processors have some high school or college education. A small percentage of the workers have associate and bachelor’s degrees. However, as job prospects decline, processors who have experience or at least a bachelor’s degree are best positioned. The degrees should be in microelectronics or a related field. Classes in science, engineering and electronic circuits are helpful, and training on the job is common. It often lasts for a month up to a year.
Semiconductor Processors Salary
People in this field earn decent money. The median salary in the United States is nearly $35,000, with the top 10 percent of semiconductor processors pulling in more than $53,000 yearly. The bottom 10 percent earns about $25,000.
Semiconductor Processors Jobs by Geography
States that have semiconductor plants are your best bets for employment opportunities. In fact, many states in the United States just don’t offer this type of job. Fortunately, the states that have such plants are diverse enough that you’re likely to find a good fit for you.For the five states with the highest employment levels, head to California, Texas, Washington state, North Carolina and Arizona. To find the most processors jobs per thousand positions, check out New Mexico, California, Washington state, Texas and Arizona. The states that pay best are Florida, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Minnesota.