News reports that the VLSI industry has the highest pay grade were probably disturbing for many engineers and managers. Headlines led to assumptions, and then some cheer and plenty of heartburn!
Some folks immediately even decided to jump ship. To them – don’t get lured by the force of demand-supply gap, instead, focus on a rewarding career.
There is no linear relationship between working hard and making more money. If we had to take this analogy literally, the most hard-working job is parenting!
One needs to understand the difference between making money and creating value. Employers are constantly looking at ways to motivate, and they also know money can’t fix it all, yet is the easier carrot to dangle. As a result, many professionals end up taking jobs or roles that they are unsuitable for.
It is true that the VLSI industry has high pay scales. That does not imply every single person in the market should start thinking of changing their career to become a Physical Design (PD) engineer. This industry also creates high-value products and solutions, and hence the premium. PD engineers are highly skilled technical folks and that’s not all –they are constant learners who upgrade their skills and knowledge.
Now if I were to draw a parallel with the sports world, the highest paid athletes in 2018 were Floyd Mayweather ($285 million) and Lionel Messi ($111 million). These numbers should not influence us to start thinking of taking boxing or soccer as a profession.
Every industry has morphed into a vertical industry, where expertise and passion are key. It is a competitive world, and may the best man always win.
Pay for performance is the single mantra every company follows
Companies constantly hire, nurture and retain high-quality professionals. The management constantly communicates and reinforces the values, goals and objectives of the company to engage employees in its growth. Eventually, a company always looks to reward the value creators. With new salary and OKR-led models like pay for performance, employees can expect their performance will be evaluated objectively against a company’s progress on their growth strategy and paid accordingly. It is quite normal to put new starters towards the middle of the pay band. Any further movement upwards is subject to performance. Successful managers and organisations know that in order to maximise profits, it’s imperative to hire and retain the best employees possible.
Businesses always look to maximise profit by actively reducing expenses. That doesn’t mean they look at salaries with a magnifying glass. Every business understands it is counterproductive if it tries to minimise compensation. But, salaries in the upper quadrant in the pay scale structures are usually reserved for high performing employee.
Job satisfaction is more important than the salary
Money does motivate but doesn’t necessarily boost satisfaction
Salary should never be viewed at what one is making currently, instead it should be seen as a benefit received during your association with the company. Total payout is not just salary. Its total benefits received – tangential and non-tangential.
A rewarding career, a great atmosphere and learning organisation is more important than a mere salary number. One should always get a job that he/she loves and work his/her way up to the high pay scale structure.
Stacie Freudenberg, a Colorado-based psychologist says, “While taking a job that has a high salary may sound like it will improve [your] overall quality of life, it actually may do the opposite if you don’t love what you’re doing”. Apart from pay, one should look at these critical elements and make an informed decision:
- Don’t get hoodwinked by a high salary. Consider the alignment of the company culture with your values
- Benefits play an important role in a larger financial picture. Free breakfast, lunch or dinner can add considerably to after-tax pay. Provident Fund matching can be another significant advantage. Look at benefits holistically
- Ask yourself if the position you are considering is taking advantage of your strengths. If not, you will feel compromised in no time
- Do you see the possibility of sacrificing your health or happiness for a paycheck? It’s not worth it
- Company size, stability, manager you will be working for, the team you will be a part of, location of the office, ability to work from home, work-life balance, and the support the company offers during emergencies are benefits that have larger intrinsic value and it is impossible to put a monetary value to it
To be a great Physical Design engineer
Finally, to be the best physical design engineer, apart from having expertise in leading P&R tools or SoC implementation, Floorplanning, Clock Tree Synthesis and Timing and Physical Verification (PV) closure, make sure you are:
- Up-to-date on the latest EDA tool features and technologies.
- Active in the expert user community like SNUG, DAC, CDNLive etc
- Upgrading your scripting skills – Tcl, Perl, Python etc
- Don’t stop at pureplay P&R technologies, extend to DFT, In-depth Timing Analysis, IR, and synthesis
- Extend design knowledge through constraints management, understanding memories, advanced technology node rules and different customer design methodologies
- Upskill yourself to debug timing reports, fixing timing violations and implementing ECO
Be there for a long haul
Sometimes you might be the best performer and have the best potential, yet may not be paid the highest.
That is okay. Environmental factors, business situations, and company strategies sometimes force the management to keep expenses in check. For example, when the company is trying to achieve an Operating Margin it has committed, or when the company is saving money, it looks to tighten the belt on all expenses.
If you love your job and your industry, don’t think about changing careers just to make a few extra bucks. Don’t think short-term and change jobs as you’ll end up dissatisfied. Careers are long journeys which have both short-term and long-term battles.
If you are confident about your skills and project your knowledge and experience effectively, you can command a value and will get it. But at the same time, be mature to understand the bigger picture and cruise with the company for a rewarding career.
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