North Carolina added more high-tech jobs than all but four other states between 1990 and 1996, according to the American Electronics Association. The bulk of that growth occurred in a sprawling wedge called Research Triangle Park.
RTP, as it's better known, is the deltoid formed by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. The area hosts three of the nation's best-known universities Duke, the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State each of which holds its own with the nation's top technical schools. RTP is an exciting blend of small research-and-development companies and outposts of the world's biggest engineering companies, such as IBM, Nortel and Ericsson. The region, now entering its fourth decade as a technology center, has never been stronger.
"It's an employee's marketplace," said Ed Kato of Westaff, a Raleigh-based recruiting concern. "There are more opportunities than there are employees," said Kato, whose firm on any given day has between 75 and 80 engineering jobs to fill.
PowerWare, once known as Exide Electronics, has about a half-dozen engineering jobs available in Raleigh. The company needs a senior project engineer with experience in uninterruptible power supplies, military-rate power and CAD, a component engineer, and a senior firmware-design engineer with five years' experience in embedded firmware design. PowerWare is also looking for a software test engineer and a director of software operations, a post that demands 10 years' product-development experience.
Nortel has about a dozen engineering openings in Raleigh, including a senior optical engineer, a systems engineer, a software engineer and an IC/ASIC design engineer.
Ericsson has a number of jobs in RTP, including software/hardware engineers. The telecom heavyweight needs a project manager, to manage "the on-time delivery of high-quality, cost-competitive wireless consumer products." The ideal candidate has an MSEE and 5 to 10 years' design experience, as well as at least a year of project-management experience.
Ericsson also needs systems engineers with at least six years' experience in real-time systems, and an ASIC power-amplifier (PA) design engineer to develop RF chips. The post demands at least a BSEE and a decade of PA design, as well as five years in IC PA design for high-volume commercial applications.
Bill Roberts of Southern Technical Recruiters in nearby Greensboro calls North Carolina its own greatest asset. "You don't have to sell the state," he said. "The weather is fine, the cost of living is low, and now there's professional hockey."
Salaries might be a little lower in Greensboro than they are in RTP, said Roberts, and aren't in the same league as California or New York. But after factoring in the intangibles and taxes (sales tax in North Carolina is 6 percent to New York's 8 percent, for example), "it's a no-brainer."
One of Greensboro's more promising companies, RF Micro Devices Inc., is a comer in telecom. RF Micro has several positions available for experienced personnel. It needs a digital-design engineer with a BSEE or MSEE and five or more years' work in Verilog or VHDL, and a layout technician with three to five years of CAD experience, an RF ASIC designer and test engineer, and product engineers with skills in RF design.
Analog Devices Inc., which has offices in Greensboro, has eight jobs in signal processing, plus slots in test development, mixed-signal design and digital-CAD engineering.