(sem-ee-kuhn-duhk-ter pros-es-ing) (n.)
The practice of creating microchips and other electronic circuitry. Semiconductor processors supervise and monitor the process by which silicon is turned into microchips that contain multiple electronic circuits. Semiconductor processors are employed by large manufacturers of computer chips, hard drives and other electronic components to prepare silicon wafers for further processing. Processors of semiconductors also ensure that the largely automated process of manufacturing silicon microchips is carried out properly.
The minimum educational requirement for starting a career as a semiconductor processor is a one-year technical certificate from a vocational institution. Many employers prefer candidates with two-year college degrees or with previous experience handling highly technical precision machinery. Those who are interested in careers as semiconductor processors should study scientific and technical subjects in high school to prepare for further training and an entry-level position.
Preparing silicon wafers requires excellent hand-eye coordination and the ability to use advanced processing machinery. As the shaping, grinding and etching machinery used to produce semiconductors is computerized, familiarity with computers is essential to success as a semiconductor processor. Processing silicon into semiconductors also involves chemical baths, so an understanding of chemistry and chemical safety is necessary. The work is slow and extremely precise, and it takes place in extremely clean environments where contaminants are not able to enter.
Plants that manufacture components may assign semiconductor processors to either eight-hour or 12-hour shifts, with weekend or night work often required.
With the preparation process itself becoming more and more automated, the need for semiconductor processors is declining. The smaller size of more advanced microchips demands full automation, as these chips are too small for the human hand to shape. Positions in the field are currently scarce, and more positions are eliminated than created.