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What’s Keeping Microwave & RF Engineers Up at Night?

Concerns run the gamut from education and human resources issues to concerns about pricing and products.

In our 2016 Annual Salary & Career Report, one of the topics Microwaves & RF surveyed was what readers’ biggest concerns were as an engineer. The concerns ran the gamut from education and human resources issues to concerns about pricing and products. Here’s Microwaves & RF’s list of top concerns among engineers.

Also, be sure to check out our 2017 Salary & Career Report due out this fall.

10. Concerns about the Financial Health of Your Company

9. Dealing with Reductions in Staff

8. Job Security

Among the top concerns for microwaves and RF-focused EEs are concerns over their job security within their firms. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, increases in the inventory of available jobs within the U.S. labor market for EEs is not expected to rise over the coming few years.  This is counter to the growth expected in other engineering fields, such as mechanical engineering. Want to keep your EE career on track with a contracting job market? Well, there is good news there from the BLS: while the strongest growth will be concentrated in heavy construction, infrastructure, and business support services, satellite communications technologies is also expected to see continued strong growth. As with any profession, some markets are more lucrative than others.

7. Age Discrimination

From Sam Davis, Editor at Power Electronics:

“A 2013 report by Aberdeen Group asserts that there will be a limited number of engineers and additional challenges faced by manufacturers. As the supply of engineers goes down, the price it takes to attract this talent will increase: “This causes trouble for many companies; over half of those surveyed indicated a lack of willingness to pay enough for top talent. This means these companies will have to resort to hiring freshly graduated engineers. While it is true new graduates are cheaper to acquire, they are also unproven and may lack the experience or maturity to contribute immediately."

Check out the full article here.


6. Product Quality Issues

The rise of the threat of counterfeit components and parts has been an ongoing development for many years for EEs. Overcoming these threats can come down to personal and enterprise-level vigilance, with a little help from government standards and accountability. Rockwell Collins became the first company to achieve Counterfeit Avoidance Accreditation for its supply-chain management procedures. Is your firm doing everything it can in the supply chain to overcome the plague of counterfeits?

5. Price / Performance Issues

When it comes to price and performance, almost nothing can more easily sink a project or product in development. First, the EE has to explore what his or her requirements are and the best way to approach those from a technological perspective. Then comes sourcing, pricing, and avoiding the pitfalls of unreliable or, worse, counterfeit products. It’s when the EE is trying to fuse these two considerations that they can run into problems. Let us guide you through that process with these helpful articles:

"Get the Most Scope for Your Dollar"

"13 Key Considerations for Aerospace RF/Microwave Devices"


4. The Health of the Economy

The good news is that the economy has continued to improve and grow over the past several years and with that good news we continue to see plentiful jobs for RF engineers (albeit many of them based in California). According to job portal site indeed, the average salary for RF engineers in the United States is around $91,350 per year, most of them full-time, and with great legacy companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Ball Aerospace.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)


3. Product Reliability Issues

We’ve seen it in embedded technology, test and measurement technology, and even in MEMS—product reliability issues are a constant concern of the design engineer.  Part of the solution to that problem is to keep abreast of the latest technological developments and techniques for 

ensuring reliability in your products. Microwaves & RF continues to work to keep you ahead of the curve with articles such as "Can MEMS Deliver for 5G Mobile Networks?"


2. Looming Project Deadlines

“Setting aside time for testing has been a struggle for electrical engineers. The shrinking size—and increasing complexity—of semiconductor circuits is not making life any easier. Nearly 15% of wireless engineers are outsourcing final testing and more than 45% contract manufacturing—when most semiconductor testing takes place, according to a Microwaves & RF survey.” 

MWRF Writer James Morra.

Outsourcing, it seems, can help and hurt the engineer, depending on how you slice it. But outsourcing isn’t the only time-saving measure the EE can take—with the rapidly expanding marketplace for automated test equipment—deadlines will, hopefully, become easier to meet. 


1. Staying Current with New and Emerging Technologies

The biggest concern for EEs in the job market today? How to stay ahead of the curve with the fast-paced development of new and emerging technologies. With the advent of machine learning, artificial intelligence, new materials, augmented reality, and deep learning, we’ve entered a whole new world of production and innovation. Then there’s the IoT revolution, 3D printing, and industrial automation. It’s all enough to make your head spin. The good news: staying informed and educated will provide the EE with the knowledge base to view these new and emerging technologies as opportunities instead of anxieties. Check out these articles on the new and emerging technologies affecting the EE community today:

"Materials Lay Foundations for Next-Generation Circuits"

"Metamaterial Antenna Grasps at Lower Frequencies"



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