It is good that you know soldering. 8 year of my career I worked in India, amongst the top notch engineering companies..and I used to laugh at most of my american counter parts when they did not know how to design a good level- shifter after 10 year experience..
But when I joined here in US in a start up, first year I struggled a lot , because I did not know soldering. My fellow firmware engineer can solder, change some component, do a little bit prototyping and I was embarassed. Off late I learnt the essence of western civilization. They talk less and do more...and do not stay in a simulation world unlike us. Thats the real American engineering, when a school drop out in his garage writes firmware and make a product working on lathe machine, drills, plastic.
Back to Bay area, it has been thoroughly taken by immigrants. The engineering culture in most big companies is same as in Bangalore..The real American engineering culture is dying.
So it wont be a surprise that a lot of American univs churn out grads who do not know soldering and become electronics engineer, with out going through the path their previous generation went..Like Prof Tom Lee, who has a lab in his home.. opens up a old CRO and tells us how good the engineering was. I bet in a few yr those golden HW engineers would vanish, and what would be left are some smart math kids , with out a soul of engineer.
To remove components I usually ask the skilled soldering people to do it - after all, they have the proper motorized suction vacuum tools, while all I have is an ESD-generating-spring-loaded-piston-in-a-damn-blue-plastic-cylinder, and I would prefer not to bugger-up the pcb. I can usually re-solder the components back into place with my head-worn magnifying visor and a fine-tipped iron.