How To Become a Semiconductor Technician

The semiconductor revolution is here, and you can be a part of it! The need to make this important electronics element right here in America is driving demand for skilled technicians. Here’s what you need to know about this exciting career, including training pathways, salary range, job duties and much more.

What Does a Semiconductor Technician Do?

A semiconductor technician operates the machines that make and test semiconductors, which provide the basic foundation needed to make microchips or integrated circuits. These devices are needed for almost every electronic product made today, from computers to "smart" appliances to cars and medical equipment. 

Semiconductor technicians start with a crystal material, usually extremely pure silicon, and apply different processes. They modify the semiconductor’s electrical properties to be either a conductor or an insulator. For example, by treating or "doping" thin slices of silicon called wafers with aluminum and applying a specific pattern using UV light, technicians create a conductive material that can be used in an integrated circuit. 

Technicians also operate or control specialized machines and processes including furnaces, X-ray machines, chemical baths and advanced chip manufacturing equipment used to form circuitry, change a material’s conductive properties or test a finished wafer.

Technician responsibilities vary, but they often work closely with engineers to design, fine tune and improve semiconductor fabrication processes and equipment. 

Also called process technicians, engineering technicians, diffusion operators, wafer fabrication operators or semiconductor process technicians, technicians work in specially cleaned manufacturing facilities called clean rooms. When working in clean rooms, they wear head-to-toe coverings called clean suits or "bunny suits" to minimize the spread of contaminants. 

$ 34,000 - $ 66,500
$ 43,100
A female semiconductor technician wearing a clean suit examines an integrated circuit in a clean room in a manufacturing facility.
Semiconductor technicians take many steps to keep dust and dirt out of the production area, including wearing a clean suit. Semiconductors are the building blocks that provide the "brains" of all modern electronics. (Credit: Maha Heang 245789/Shutterstock

Job Responsibilities

  • Operate machines that fabricate and test semiconductor devices
  • Check materials for purity
  • Clean semiconductor wafers
  • Inspect products for surface defects
  • Measure circuitry using precision measuring devices
  • Package finished product
  • Utilize computer-aided design (CAD) software to create microchip layouts and patterns
  • Maintain records

How To Become a Semiconductor Technician: FAQs

In this section, we spell out the training and education steps you will need to take to become a semiconductor technician. We also answer common questions about this skilled profession. (Want more information about how fast the industry is growing? Check out Semiconductor Jobs Are Coming: Here's What You Need to Know)

What kind of training do I need to become a semiconductor technician?

First, earn your high school diploma or equivalent. From there, you can take several paths to this in-demand career.

The most common route is earning an associate degree in electronics technology from a community college. Trade schools and vocational schools also offer programs of varying lengths. 

Some schools offer quick-start programs that will prepare students by teaching them only the skills needed for an entry-level technician role. 

Programs of any length will cover hands-on training to understand semiconductor manufacturing equipment, semiconductor manufacturing processes and quality control procedures.

Coursework will include math, chemistry, computer science, physics and electronics theory. Themes will include solid-state theory, introduction to very large-scale integration (VLSI) systems, circuit design and principles of semiconductor devices. (A VLSI system is the way hundreds of transistors are embedded in a silicon wafer.) 

There’s opportunity for growth in this field. Through continuing education, semiconductor technicians can learn more about the industry and become senior technicians or, with specific training, move into a parallel role in a related industry. Related professions include electrical and electronics engineering technician and various automotive roles, including auto mechanic. A technician can also earn a bachelor’s degree to become a process or materials engineer or a designer. 

How long does semiconductor technician training last?

Program length varies, with some programs taking a few weeks and more in-depth programs, such as an associate degree, taking two years. 

You don't need a license or certification to become a semiconductor tech, but certification can provide proof of your skills to potential employers. The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) offers several certifications in electronics that may help you progress in the industry. (Note: Don't let the terminology confuse you. You earn a certificate for completing a short-term training program. After finishing your training, you earn certification by taking and passing an exam given by ISCET.)

What is the typical semiconductor technician salary range?

Annual wages in the United States range from $33,120 (lowest 10%) up to $72,030 (highest 10%). The mean annual wage is $48,370, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Wages are higher in states with concentrated semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing hubs. 

Is there a demand for process technicians?

Yes. In states such as Arizona, Texas and New York, the demand for technicians is growing quickly as new manufacturing plants are opening or being constructed. States with these semiconductor hubs have more job openings and higher salaries. 

What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Good troubleshooting skills
  • Creative thinking skills 
  • Able to read schematics and drawings
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to follow detailed instructions
  • Able to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Safety-conscious

How are silicon wafers made?

Watch this video and learn how pure silicon is transformed into wafers to create the microchips that power so many electronics and other devices. 

The bottom line:

Becoming a semiconductor technician could be a great career fit for you if you meet the criteria above and like the idea of working in a cutting-edge industry. New partnerships between employers and educators are popping up and creating great opportunities for workers looking for a fast track to a new career. 

Semiconductor Technician Training in Your Area

Mesa Community College logo

Semiconductor Technician Quick Start Program

Mesa Community College
Mesa (945.4 Miles)
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Estrella Mountain Community College
Avondale (969.1 Miles)

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Chandler (943.9 Miles)

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Rio Salado College
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Mohawk Valley Community College
Utica (1,156.0 Miles)

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Portland Community College
Portland (1,508.0 Miles)

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Portland (1,508.0 Miles)