PCB Tech Talk Podcast: Addressing Your Comments and Questions on the Aging PCB Design Workforce

By John McMillan

PCB Tech Talk podcast


We received a lot of great feedback from listeners regarding the question proposed in episode three about whether or not PCB designers are becoming a vanishing breed so in this episode, we hear from our listeners! More on that from the podcast producer, Brittany Bach, below. Thanks for following the blog and tuning into PCB Tech Talk! – John



Hi, I’m Brittany, producer of the PCB Tech Talk podcast. I’m usually at work behind the scenes but, in this episode, I join John to share some listener comments and discuss the topics below in greater depth.

  • How is it that there are a variety of opinions as to what PCB Design is?
  • PCB design education and training trends
  • Are apprenticeships necessary?
  • Are HR teams lacking understanding when it comes to hiring?
  • What training is foundational for PCB Design?
  • Are companies unwilling to invest enough in training new recruits?

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

Thanks to all our listeners for making PCB Tech Talk a top featured podcast in the Software How-to New and Noteworthy section on iTunes! Have questions or topics of interest? Interested in being a guest on the show? Contact us at

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3 thoughts about “PCB Tech Talk Podcast: Addressing Your Comments and Questions on the Aging PCB Design Workforce
  • Having been an instructor in the US college level system, I’ve seen some of the issues that we run into. School systems have the difficulty of recognizing PCB Design as an actual career in the national list of career paths that they follow. The field isn’t there. This is a glitch that hinders the US education system. It is defined in EU and the rest of the world. It makes it difficult for us to develop, quantify, and justify the course of study in any school in the US.

    This then carries over to HR systems. They don’t have a good description on their list of positions and then rely on an EE, ME, or PE to define what the company needs. This leads to many miss-conceptions of what a Designers responsibilities entail.

    I am a Master IPC Instructor for EPTAC. We (other IPC instructors) have all seen the issues and are working to create awareness and possible solutions. Getting a company to bring in the “BASIC” designer course helps a great deal for all involved. It at least introduces the responsibilities a designer has, what they can do, and what they don’t do.

    Lately, I’ve been working with Design Consulting firms to do designs and guide others in the process. This seems to work the best so far. I’ve been getting other “older” designers (I’m now 65 and don’t intend to retire for at least another 10 years) to join me as this seems to be the best way to distribute our “knowledge”.

  • I feel that the dying breed of pcb designer depends on location. If your part of NJ you know what I mean. Smaller companies here tend to have engineers layout their own designs; at least that’s what I gather from job descriptions.
    20+ years of pcb design has taught me alot; much more than 4 years of EET. Engineers are becoming more numerous at laying out their own designs, depending on complexity of course. The issue I see most prevalent with them are part definitions; from ordering codes to footprints to soldermask/silkscreen/stencil. I’ve become the silent consultant on correcting/communicating these issues prior to board fab. The overall design itself is not that bad. For concept and low runners they seem to be operating to spec. Some don’t look like they should, but they do. So kudos. However, parts need to be understood from a mechanical standpoint as well as electrical.

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