Firmware engineers (or firmware programmers) are in a lot of demand in our country. And given the increase in software-related jobs in India, this career is definitely on the rise.
What is Firmware?
Firmware is a software program or set of instructions programmed on a hardware device. It provides the necessary instructions for how the device communicates with the other computer hardware.
Firmware engineers are a subset of software engineers. They write the algorithms (the “rules”) that tell a device how to behave. When you hit the keys on your keyboard, it’s firmware that tells the device how to interpret your physical actions and convert them into a signal your computer can understand. It involves a blend of deep knowledge of electronics as well as computer science.
Salary of a Firmware Programmer in India
Starting salary is roughly 50,000 rupees per month. Growth opportunities largely depend on the type of firm you work with, but in general, you can expect a good percentage increase in your salary over time.
Job Profile (A Day in the life of a Firmware Programmer)
Most firmware engineers usually work in a team. The team is headed by a project manager or senior software developer. Usually, work shifts start in the morning and end by early evening. Roughly 8hrs/day of work 5 days a week.
Responsibilities involve writing, testing and debugging firmware codes for different sensors and applications. Firmware engineers do this for all sorts of different applications such as mobile image sensors.
Good knowledge about microcontrollers and programming languages like C, C++ is definitely required. Python is a plus but not mandatory, and other stuff can be learnt on the job. Besides this, you would also need to have complete knowledge about the hardware you are working with.
Work-life balance is good. Growth opportunities are also available for skilled employees who are actually good at their job. Since firmware programmers tend to have a lot of creative freedom, it all depends upon you as to where you end up in the organizational chain.
If you seek out positions with increasing responsibility and demonstrate strong management and communications skills, it may also be a stepping stone toward a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) position over time.
A degree is required. BTech in Electronics and Communication Engineering is the most preferred degree for this kind of a job. If not available, a BTech in CS works equally well.
One thing people love about being a Firmware Programmer
“No work pressure, more creative freedom.”
One thing people hate about being a Firmware Programmer
“Sometimes, I feel like work is not challenging enough for me.”
IITs, NITs, IIITs, VIT, and DTU are some of the top colleges for engineering in this country.
- Before you do anything else, get familiar with GitHub. You will be using it everyday. Also, get good at reading Documentation; it is a skill on its own.
- MyCodeSchool on YouTube will provide you with a good foundational knowledge.
- After you get to an intermediate level, get familiar with the HackerRank website and the CodeChef website.
- University courses are a great resource for learning programming and computer science. There are many courses available for every thing you may want to learn. Bookmark this GitHub page. It has compiled and categorized all the best university courses that are available for free.
Step-by-step guide to become a Firmware Engineer
- Take PCM (science, non-medical) in class 11th. Score at least 60% in class 12th board exams, as it is a minimum requirement for most colleges.
- Give JEE and other equivalent engineering exams. Score well.
- Pursue BTech (Electronics and Communication Engineering) from a good college.
- To supplement your knowledge, also take online courses from Coursera, Udemy, etc. Take a look at the recommended resources section for a more in-depth look.
- MTech is not really required in this path. A four-year degree is enough.
- Sit for college placements. If it doesn’t work out, then LinkedIn is your best friend. There are a lot of companies on it that hire freshers as Junior Firmware engineers/Junior Firmware programmers.
- Work your way up.