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How to Become a Semiconductor Processor

Many employers prefer that semiconductor processors have an associate’s degree, although sometimes completing a 1-year certificate program is enough.


Many semiconductor processors have an associate’s degree in a field such as advanced manufacturing or microelectronics. Some employers accept candidates who have completed a 1-year certificate program in a similar field. These programs are usually offered at community colleges.

There is an emerging trend of employers preferring semiconductor processors to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a physical science because of the increasing complexity of the manufacturing plants.


New semiconductor processors need on-the-job training from 1 month to 1 year. During this training, a processor learns how to operate equipment and test new chips. Manufacturing microchips is a complex process, and it takes months of supervised work to become fully proficient.

Workers with more education may have learned some techniques in school and need less on-the-job training. Because the technology used in manufacturing microchips is always evolving, processors must continue to be trained on new techniques and methods throughout their careers.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Semiconductor processors use logic and reasoning to uncover problems and determine solutions during the manufacturing process.

Detail oriented. Because a minor error or impurity can ruin a chip, processors must be able to spot tiny imperfections.

Dexterity. Semiconductor processors must be able to use tools and operate equipment to make precise cuts and measurements.

Science skills. Processors must understand the chemical composition and properties of certain substances that they may use in manufacturing semiconductors.

Technical ability. Because of the complex nature of manufacturing microchips, semiconductor processors need to know a lot about electronics and about the manufacturing process.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition