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Tiny chips, big opportunities: why a semiconductors career might be right for you

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo shares why this high-paying, rapidly growing sector might be your perfect career path.

July 25, 2023 — “I'm asking you to think about working in semiconductors, because it's incredibly rewarding at the end of your day to go home and know that you were part of making something that makes a difference in the world.” During a recent fireside chat with Handshake, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo shared invaluable insights on how the thriving US semiconductor sector is creating numerous opportunities for aspiring professionals.

From the importance of semiconductors in our day-to-day lives to the various career paths one can follow in the industry, this event covered exactly why so many students are eyeing the thousands of new, good-paying jobs in the sector. Secretary Raimondo heard from students and current summer interns at semiconductor companies, who asked insightful questions about the future of the industry — and might inspire you to apply to a new job or internship.

Read on for more, or watch the full event below.

Level-setting: what are semiconductors?

Semiconductors are small-but-powerful components that power pretty much all modern tech — they’re inside everything from smartphones, cars, and household appliances to critical defense systems.

Secretary Raimondo is leading the charge to build up America’s semiconductor industry with historic investments through the bi-partisan CHIPS & Science Act. This groundbreaking effort has helped federal funding to boost domestic research and manufacturing, creating thousands of new jobs in the sector.

The role of early talent in the future of the semiconductor industry

Secretary Raimondo explained explained how the CHIPS Act is creating a surge in job opportunities for early talent. High demand for skilled professionals in the industry has opened doors for early talent to make their mark — in fact, semiconductor industry internships are up 40% on Handshake in 2023. This need for passionate, skilled professionals means that recent grads and early-career professionals can play a vital role in shaping the industry's future.

Above: Kacey Gavin, a semiconductor intern from Washington, was the first to ask Secretary Raimondo about the future of the field.

Why work in semiconductors?

Aside from the ample job opportunities, high pay, and stable future outlook, the semiconductor sector offers the chance to be at the forefront of innovation in the field. With rapid advancements in technology happening every day, the crucial role semiconductors play in virtually all tech gives new hires an opportunity to play a role in those groundbreaking discoveries.

"All innovation in the future rests on semiconductors. Artificial intelligence, new forms of diagnostics, new and faster cures for diseases, new medical devices,” explained Secretary Raimondo. “None of that is possible without semiconductors and without more advances in semiconductors, because anything that requires compute power or data or digitization, the foundation is chips."

Opportunities in the semiconductor industry

Secretary Raimondo shed light on some of the exciting career paths and job roles within the semiconductor industry. “There will be jobs for folks that have a high school degree and a credential, a two-year degree, a four-year degree, a PhD degree,” she shared.

Noting that the “many six-figure jobs” created will also include building factories and beyond, the Secretary named roles such as:

  • drone operators
  • welders
  • electrical engineers
  • plumbers and pipefitters
  • operating engineers

...and many more!

What majors are best suited for a career in the semiconductor sector?

Secretary Raimondo emphasized that while engineering and computer science degrees are great fits for work in the world of semiconductors, the industry also welcomes talents from various backgrounds — from physics, materials science, and electrical engineering to non-STEM majors.

With the immense potential for growth, lucrative career opportunities, and efforts to promote diversity, this industry stands ready to welcome the next generation of talented professionals. The semiconductor industry might just be the perfect place for you to shine! “You have to be opportunistic,” encouraged Secretary Raimondo. “Don't be afraid to take risks. Do what you're good at, do what you enjoy, and you know you'll find your way.”

Watch the full session above, and be sure to check out our upcoming events for more great career tips.

Editor’s notes: some quotes have been edited for length and clarity. Photo by Muffin Creatives via Pexels.

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