Underpaid? Can some semiconductor industry veterans please advise me?

Dec 5, 2019 9 Comments

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

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.)

Tips on how to make my case stronger would be highly appreciated.


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TOP 9 Comments
  • Amazon getthat$
    I'm a new grad, so not a veteran, but some of my friends make over 100k as new grads doing HW QA at faang so i'd say you're definitely underpaid.
    Dec 5, 2019 4
    • Amazon getthat$
      But some of their comp goes upwards of 120k here, with your yoe I feel you can def get a decent pay bump by switching companies. That seems like the name of the game when it comes to increasing TC in tech.
      Dec 6, 2019
    • OP
      That's alright. Given the number of posts from people in that area, I figured this would happen. Anyway, 120k in the bay area is not great at all. Hope they are getting a lot more if its literally in the bay area. If they are new grads with no prior experience, I guess that would be an average starting salary.

      Yes, switching companies is a common way to get a hike. However, this post is to gauge my current pay compared to the industry standard.
      Dec 6, 2019
  • Intel / Other seabay
    Don't wait until things stabilize, it won't. If the co gives that reason they just don't want to. Keep close discussions with your manager and define goals you must achieve to get a promotion and review it regularly. That way you will know if the co is really interested to promote you
    Dec 5, 2019 3
    • Intel / Other seabay
      Let your manager know that you want career progression and say that you are willing to work for it. Set goals and review with him. I did a mistake by thinking that if I worked, my results will speak for itself...nope , nada, not at all...
      Dec 5, 2019
    • OP
      That's a good point. Thanks for sharing your experience.
      Dec 6, 2019


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