The demand for power engineers is showing no signs of running out of juice. "Business is tremendous. We can't supply good-quality power electrical engineers fast enough," said Richard Cardarella, president of Power Technology Associates, a recruiting firm in Sharon, Mass.
"Everybody's kind of gone toward the factory applications-type people, and they need power guys to do design for the customer," said Matt McGuill, Power Technology's western regional manager. Salaries have responded to the heightened demand, and a power maven at a chip shop can earn 15 to 20 percent more than one at a traditional supply house, McGuill said. "It's a career move for a senior design engineer who has reached the top of the salary curve. If they can complete a sentence, the salary ranges are higher."
Another area that's picked up lately is Internet applications. Companies like Intel, for example, are hiring power people to help design Web appliances, he said. McGuill has even seen a design job that called for Linux on the specs. "Obviously, they're designing some Linux into their product," he said, but whether more cases will crop up remains to be seen.
Reno Rossetti, director of applications and new-product planning for Fairchild Semiconductor's power management group (San Jose, Calif.), is always looking for new blood. "We are hiring very hard on all fronts," said Rossetti, including applications engineers, designers, product developers and testers. But "it's extremely hard to find them," he added.
The team specializes in voltage regulators for CPUs that go into desktop PCs, portables and ultraportable devices like cell phones and PDAs. To make the grade at Fairchild, candidates must have worked for the "right companies," Rossetti said. Places like Maxim, Linear Technology, National Semiconductor, Motorola and Texas Instruments. "Those are good schools," he quipped. Having the words "power supply designer" on a resume is a help in getting noticed.
Power-One (Camarillo, Calif.) also has plenty of openings for volt jockeys. The company, for example, needs a pc-board designer with five years of power supply design experience, at least three years of experience using AutoCAD or PADS, and a familiarity with schematics and parts lists. They should be able to design to Power-One's standards "for single- and double-sided, through-hole boards."
Power-One is also looking for a senior design engineer with a BSEE (MSEE preferred) and seven or more years in power supply engineering. Qualified candidates have new-product development experience in the 40-watt to 5-kW range. They are familiar with flyback, forward, one-half and full-bridge converter topologies, and have magnetics and mechanical design savvy.
Also seeking new hires is American Power Conversion Corp. The West Kingston, R.I.-based company needs an electrical engineer at its Billerica, Mass., facility, with a BSEE or the equivalent and three or more years of experience in embedded-circuit design "especially 80186" and related areas.
Another opening in Billerica for a senior EE requires a BSEE or MSEE and five-plus years of experience in power electronics, with "a strong understanding of control theory, magnetics design and device background." APC also needs an engineer in St. Louis, with a BSEE and three or more years of experience in pc-board design and layout, and a product engineer with a BSEE or MSEE and five to eight years of experience. Bonus points for people with a background in power electronics and an MBA.
For more power jobs, seekers can try PowerCareers.com.