There are many circuit board jobs, including designers, assemblers, and inspectors. Each one of these important positions contributes to the creation of electronics, from smartphones to refrigerator controls. These professions have various education and experience requirements.
One of the main circuit board jobs is designing circuit boards. This profession requires knowledge of circuit layout and component placement. The designer must create electronic schematics and translate them into a working printed circuit board (PCB); each product requiring a PCB has different needs and limitations that the designer must consider. Appliances that run extremely hot, such as generators, must have a PCB design that can withstand constant heat. For other applications, the designer must prevent components from freezing temperatures by creating a tightly packed circuit board that stays functional in extreme cold.
The majority of circuit board jobs in designing require a two or four year college degree. Computer drafting and engineering are typical degrees obtained by successful PCB designers. Students learn about electronic theories and circuit construction, as well as designing boards through computer layout programs.
Many circuit board jobs have to do with PCB assembly. Assemblers attach components and external wiring to circuit boards on a production line. Although many boards are manufactured by robotic systems, some circuit boards are too sensitive for mechanized assembly. As a result, the assemblers physically construct the board and test its functions; normally, a PCB will not leave the production line until all circuit pathways and components operate within the desired specifications.
Assemblers can learn their trade via on-the-job training or by attending a two year degree or certificate program in electronics at a local community college or trade school. Workers who have a mixture of education and experience tend to have more responsibilities on the production line, such as final testing processes. Successful assemblers move around to different production areas throughout the day to obtain more skills and ease fatigue from repetition of movements.
Circuit board jobs also include inspection of the PCB. Inspectors visually examine the circuit board's exterior for any defects or loose components. In addition, the worker will test the PCB's operations to verify proper design and assembly; however, large production lines usually only allow the inspector to test one or two sample PCBs from one manufacturing batch to ensure quality workmanship.
Inspectors often gain their positions as a result of hands-on experience; most were previously employed as assemblers. As a result, the inspector understands the physical PCB construction and possible defects from past assembly experience. A circuit board inspector is normally not required to have a college degree.