Circuit Design Degree and Certificate Program Information

Circuitry is found in heating systems, computers, doorbells and light switches. Professionals who design circuit layouts need to learn about electrical engineering in order to work with either digital or analog circuitry. Circuit design is taught at the certificate, associate and bachelor's degree levels.

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Essential Information

Circuit design courses prepare students to design the layout and schematics of integrated circuit systems. Certificate programs specifically in circuit design are available, and can be found as fully online programs. Applicants to these programs may be required to have previous circuitry knowledge. At the associate degree level, circuit design and layouts may be studied through programs in computer-aided design or engineering technology. These programs are usually available as on-campus programs due to the hands-on training and lab requirements. Bachelor's degree programs in electronics engineering technology may also include coursework related to circuit design. These 4-year programs prepare students for careers helping to design and test electronic devices.


Certificate in Circuit Design

These programs are typically designed for individuals interested in entry-level jobs designing and creating the layouts for circuits. They can take 1-2 semesters to complete and online study options are available. Although programs do not always require applicants to have completed high school, students typically need to have a working knowledge of circuit theory, physics, algebra and pre-calculus.

Course Topics

Programs can offer courses in analog and integrated circuits, microelectronics and the design of data converters. Additionally, students can study topics like:

  • Signal processing
  • Continuous-time filters
  • Conversion to digital from analog
  • Protection against short-circuits
  • Wireless communications

Associate Degrees that Cover Circuit Design

Relevant training may be found through electrical engineering technology departments or computer-aided design programs, where concentration options in integrated circuit design could be available. These 2-year programs can teach students to work on fuel cells, electrical systems and logic controllers from the initial design phases to the post-installation maintenance stage. Classes in logic design, data transmission and the theory of magnetic fields can prepare graduates for fieldwork, such as servicing existing machines. Careers in this field are commonly very hands-on, so training programs can require large amounts of laboratory hours. Applicants must typically have completed high school or earned an equivalent credential.

Course Topics

Students can begin to learn how circuit design and electrical engineering decisions impact energy use, circuit functionality and the construction of entire electrical instruments. These programs may also include topics like:

  • Technical writing
  • Physics
  • Microprocessors
  • Boolean algebra
  • Direct current (D.C.)
  • Alternating current (A.C.)

Popular Careers

In May 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a concentration of electrical engineering technicians in the instruments and components manufacturing industry and the architectural services industry (www.bls.gov). Associate degree program graduates may be qualified to work as:

  • Instrument technicians
  • Engineering assistants
  • Electronics sales representatives
  • Biomedical technicians

Certification Information

Graduates may be eligible for certification as electronics technicians or broadcast technologists. The certification exam for electronics technicians is run through the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians. Passing this multiple-choice exam with a minimum score of 75% allows professionals to remain credentialed for four years. Questions cover transistors, mathematics, A.C. circuitry and D.C. circuitry.

Broadcast technologists desiring certification can go through the Society of Broadcast Engineers to take a test for 5-year credential as a Certified Broadcast Technician. The exam covers regulations from the Federal Communications Commission in addition to electronics fundamentals and basic safety. Applicants for recertification must have been employed in the broadcast field for at least three out of the past five years in order to remain eligible.


Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology

Analog-to-digital conversion, digital systems and linear circuitry can all be taught in these 4-year programs. Degree-completion options are available for those who have previously earned an associate-level electrical engineering technology degree. These tracks take roughly two years to complete. Applicants for general admission must be high school graduates. An applicant to a completion track may need meet a minimum GPA requirement and may need an academic background in pre-calculus.

Course Topics

In preparation for careers in motion control, medical electronics, radar technology and automation, students may learn about calculus, optics, energy conversion and physics. With respect to circuit design specifically, the curriculum can include:

  • Signal analysis
  • Power systems
  • Electrical measurements
  • Distributive systems
  • Circuit simulation

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The 2008-2018 BLS job forecast for electrical and electronic engineering technicians showed a two percent decline for this time period. By contrast, the increase in employment options for electrical engineers was expected to be two percent for the same time period. While consumers were projected to continue buying electronics, production competition from other countries was anticipated to hinder American job growth in this field.

The BLS also showed that the 148,770 electrical engineers earned a median annual wage - as of May 2010 - of $84,540. The 147,750 engineering technicians working in the electronics field as of May 2010 earned a median annual wage of $56,040.

Continuing Education

Opportunities for continuing education occur in Master of Engineering or a Master of Science programs, as well as doctoral-level training in electrical engineering. Ph.D. programs in engineering management are also available. Given the nature of the field, some programs allow students to opt for a final project in lieu of the completion of a thesis. Eligible applicants for these programs have typically earned a baccalaureate program in a field related to computer science, mathematics or engineering.

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