PCB Tech Talk Podcast: Are PCB designers becoming an endangered species?

By John McMillan

PCB_Tech_TalkIn this episode, I talk about the PCB design profession and, perhaps, bust the myth that PCB designers are quickly becoming a vanishing breed.

  • Where did the PCB designers with 25 plus years of experience come from? 
  • When they retire, who will replace them? 
  • How did they learn what they know about PCB design and how will those skills be passed on to the next generation of PCB designers?

Join me as I discuss these questions and more, looking into who the majority of today’s PCB designers are, who the next generation of PCB designers may be, and also where they may be coming from and how they might get there.

Fresh Faces in the Design Community, PCB&F, 2014 PCB Designer Annual Survey

How did you learn PCB layout?, EDN Network

LinkedIn Group Discussion, Old Timers PCB Designer Group


Listen to the third episode and subscribe to the podcast by clicking on from your mobile device or manually adding the podcast within your mobile podcast app using that same link. Or, if you prefer, you may listen through the player below.

Future episodes will be announced here on the blog and will show up in your podcast app of choice if you subscribe.

Previous Episodes:

PCB Tech Talk Episode One

PCB Tech Talk Episode Two

Have questions or topics of interest? Add them in the comments below or send them to so that we can feature them in future episodes.


8 thoughts about “PCB Tech Talk Podcast: Are PCB designers becoming an endangered species?
  • Hi John,

    Very good question, it seems from todays Job Market. That pcb design jobs are being advertised in the job roll of the Electronics Hardware Engineer. I must say to back up the profession of the PCB Designers, that they cant do a better job, then us pcb designers. And we could never do there job. Companies try to save money by getting the Hardware Engineer to do the PCB Design roll. So we need to make a big issue of this.

    Kind Regards

    Leslie J Hooker

    • Hi Leslie, Great comments! One can wonder if in the next 10 years or so, when the bulk of the “old timer” PCB designer workforce has retired, if their jobs do not get back-filled – if offshoring PCB design will become the new norm……

  • I have been looking for someone to train in PCB design from within our existing EE sources before I retire. (yes, I’m over 50)I have not had any takers so far and this was puzzling to me. After reading this article, it appears my company is not alone in this phenomenon. Universities and colleges at all levels are not teaching this skill as far as I can determine. Management is only starting to understand that just because you have a EE degree doesn’t mean you have the knowledge to layout a PCB. I have been asked to develop classes to train the general work force, but I don’t think this will work because you don’t become proficient at something you only perform 5-10% of your time. Am I the only one who believes to become effective PCB layout needs to be your primary job? After reading this article I would lean towards hiring an electronic technician to train up.

    • Great comments Christy! You make a great point about management “is only starting to understand that just because you have a EE degree doesn’t mean you have the knowledge to layout a PCB” Frankly, I’m not convinced that the new grad. EE even wants to preform the meticulous via pushing and trace plowing part of the physical PCB design job.
      Thanks, John

  • I just spent most of an hour trying to post a comment. When I clicked “Submit Comment”, I was told to ;submit email address – with no way to say my comment. Oh, well!

    • Hi Bill,

      I am so sorry for the inconvenience you experienced when trying to post a comment. Can you provide me with information regarding what browser(s) you tried, please, so that I can troubleshoot the problem?


  • I’ve been a PCB Designer for 40 years. I see this same problem everywhere. Everyone is my age and I’m 58. I did work for one company who did decide to bring in someone from the mail room who had just finished taking all of these AutoCadd classes and he’s 22.

    • Hi Jesse, Thanks for your comment.
      IMHO – Mailroom and ACAD classes alone does not a PCB designer make. That said, perhaps they are making an investment and committed to training this young person up to do PCB design. If so – Good for that person and the company! Folks like you, with your many years of experience should serve as an excellent mentor and trainer.
      Does the fact that the mailroom worker was the best candidate say anything about the lack of available PCB designers ?
      Not surprisingly, this podcast topic got a LOT of responses – and understandably so, it has been a hot topic for many years.
      In my Part 2 podcast on this topic (coming soon) – I’ll be sharing and discussing some of the responses that will include how some companies are addressing this shortage, some of the barriers to entry, current trends and the future outlook.
      Best Regards,

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at