Underpaid? Can some semiconductor industry veterans please advise me?

Dec 10, 2019 31 Comments

Background:
B.E. Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering
M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)

Experience:
5.2 years (Firmware development, platform development and RF system design over 2 jobs before & after Masters)
7 months internship (full time internship developing the validation platform for a mid-sized semiconductor company)

Current Job Title:
Software Quality Engineer (Small Semiconductor company based in Austin, Texas)

Current package:
$93000 (Base pay)
No bonus plan & stocks that are currently worthless (Company has been around for 10+ years but doesn’t want to go public)

Job Duties:
Write C code to test out accurate functionality of the hardware, simulator, instructions and communication protocols. Might soon do some performance analysis.
Use Bash shell and Tcl scripting in conjunction with C code. Python on rare occasions.
Analyze test failures, find and file bugs and assist in adding solutions to improve the test suite.
Assist the RTL team with some test automation.

Complete Situation:
I have been working at my current small sized company for the past year. On negotiating before joining, I could raise the initial salary from $90k to $92k. No signing bonus or annual bonus. Since I mentioned that I was expecting a much higher pay given my 4 years of prior experience. (2 years before masters & 2 years after), they mentioned that once I spend 6 months in the company, my performance will be evaluated & I’ll get a raise accordingly.

Fast-forward 7 months in & the company is not doing too well. I decide to not ask for a raise until things stabilize. After a month & new funding, everyone in the company got a pay hike to “match industry standard salaries”. I got a hike of $1000 & was told that since I was not with the company for even a year, that’s all that I would get. A few days later, I setup a meeting with my manager & expressed my appreciation for the bonus. But I also mentioned to him that I was promised a review that should lead to a hike 6 months in. I told him that I would wait until I complete a year to approach the topic again. He has always been very accommodating, understanding & is a great Manager. He agreed that it was the right way to approach things.

Since we don’t have official reviews, during a casual talk with my Manager a while back, he mentioned that he got an overall good feedback (apart from me asking a lot of questions at times). I am planning on talking to him about the raise soon & wanted to have a good case to bring to him.

Therefore, here I am, asking you veterans out there for some advice.

Since I joined, I have learnt Tcl & Perl for various projects, expanded myself to help people from other teams when they have technical questions & have generally been very flexible. Have worked with almost every team. I like the work, love working with & learning from my colleagues & love the flexibility of the job. However, I feel that the total compensation is highly inferior to my peers.

For my current level of experience, am I underpaid? If yes, what would you say would be a good range? (eg. 95k-100k, 100k-105k, etc.)

Note:
It is a common fact that moving companies or getting a competing offer will get you a pay rise. I'm looking for some industry figures for someone with my experience so that I can use it as a reference while I talk to my Manager. (HR uses the "industry standard" for reference to decide the raise.)

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TOP 31 Comments
  • Empower RF Systems
    46&2

    Empower RF Systems

    PRE
    Procter & Gamble
    46&2more
    Dude if on top of this you can debug ddr speed clock issues on SOMs and know Linux better than all these people on blind, I have a job for you in sunny LA starting yesterday with relocation
    Dec 10, 2019 3
    • OP
      Haha. If I was only looking for new opportunities right now, this would have been an interesting story to tell your colleagues. "One fine evening, I met this random guy on Blind....."
      Dec 10, 2019
    • Empower RF Systems
      46&2

      Empower RF Systems

      PRE
      Procter & Gamble
      46&2more
      Plot twist - the guy is the girl!
      Dec 10, 2019
  • Amazon sm028625
    Firmware engineers are in high demand specially someone with RF knowledge . Try for several startups in Bay Area (160-180) minimum or one of the big companies 200-250 TC. Just be ready for many offers as you don’t even know but you are in high demand
    Dec 10, 2019 11
    • OP
      @ntlazygooz If you are still at at Intel & have a similar profile could you tell me where are you based & whats your total compensation? Feel free to PM me the info in case you dont want to post it here.
      Dec 11, 2019
    • Intel
      ntlazygooz

      Intel

      BIO
      Firmware/ Embedded software enthusiast. Bits and bytes are my language.
      ntlazygoozmore
      Sure pls DM
      Dec 12, 2019
  • Xilinx hmDc08
    Intel offered me 70k in Portland after a PhD in 2005 - 2006
    Low-ball kings
    Dec 10, 2019 5
    • Amazon sm028625
      Masters starting , may go upto 90-100 but totally depends on how good you are and team . I will suggest if you are good in firmware and like it then don’t even think about validation role . It’s a good role but firmware has wider reach and career growth
      Dec 11, 2019
    • OP
      I already am in a Validation role. (although the company calls it SW Quality Engineer). So according to you a fresh Masters grad with no experience gets upto 90-100k for a Validation Engineer role?
      Dec 11, 2019
  • Amazon sm028625
    NI offered me 65K after my masters in 2011-12
    Dec 10, 2019 3
    • OP
      I heard that the pay in general is low at NI but they get great benefits.
      Dec 10, 2019
    • Microsoft cIrl41
      Not anymore. Been steadily declining yoy.
      Dec 11, 2019
  • Microsoft cIrl41
    Are you in NI by any chance? Sounds like the sort of thing they'd do
    Dec 10, 2019 2
    • Amazon sm028625
      NI is more than 20 year old ?
      Dec 10, 2019
    • OP
      Not in NI. But I've heard similar things about them.
      Dec 10, 2019
  • Sounds alot like my former employer.
    Dec 10, 2019 1
    • OP
      Hope you're in a better place now.
      Dec 10, 2019

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