What does an FPGA Engineer do?


FPGA Engineers work to program, design, and develop FPGA logic chips for use in day to day applications such as medical, security, or communications. Let’s take a look at what they do!

FPGA Responsibilities Skills Background Salary

What is FPGA?

FPGA Engineer - The role

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (or FPGAs) are semiconductor devices with reprogrammable logic chips.Their prefabricated logic blocks can be reconfigured and this allows FPGAs to be retrofitted with hardware functions or interfaces without the need for additional chips or wires.

This makes FPGAs attractive for prototype development, for fast data and signal processing or as a flexible alternative to application-specific ASICs.

FPGAs are programmed via Register Transfer Languages (RTL) such as VHDL or Verilog. However, there are also numerous design tools that allow programming with languages such as C++.

FPGA Applications

The programmable nature of FPGAs makes them suitable for use in several different industries. Some of these include:

  • Aerospace & Defense (Image processing)
  • ASIC Prototyping
  • Audio, Video & Image Processing
  • Automotive (Automotive advanced driver assistance systems - ADAS)
  • Broadcast & Pro AV
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Data Centers and Storage (Hardware accelerators)
  • High-Performance Computing
  • Industrial Imaging and Surveillance
  • Medical uses
  • Security and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)


What are the responsibilities of a Research Engineer


Research Engineer Responsibilities

FPGA Engineers are responsible at the operational level, to develop the hardware design of a new FPGA platform. As such, they work in conjunction with the software team to define and implement verification flow.

They are responsible for real-time communication and data transfer between the PC and the target FPGA, testing and validation of the entire system of the product. They also provide FPGA design services for customers when needed.

Responsibilities and daily tasks of an FPGA Engineer:

  • Design real-time digital signal processing systems using FPGAs
  • Work on FPGA development and systems engineering
  • Define and coordinate interfaces within the systems
  • Develop and carry out hardware and firmware tests
  • Define test procedures for series production
  • Take on troubleshooting and repairs
  • Analyze cost and risk factors involved in system development activities.
  • Perform system verification and validation to ensure efficiency, reliability and compatibility
  • Ensure to complete design and development tasks within allotted timelines


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FPGA Engineer skills


FPGA Engineer Skills

In order to be a successful FPGA Engineer, there are a few important skills you’ll need to master. These include having knowledge of FPGA Engineering concepts - including theories and principles.

Skills and Knowledge for an FPGA Engineer:

  • Skilled in FPGA design techniques and processes
  • Interested in and passionate about staying up to date with technology trends
  • Fully proficient in FPGA design tools
  • Excellent written and verbal communications skills to communicate issues, impacts, and corrective actions
  • Ability to think creatively and out of the box
  • Fully proficient ability to develop and sell concepts and ideas


FPGA Engineer Background

To become an FPGA engineer, it is essential that all candidates have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. Specialization in Digital Electronics will enhance your resume further.

Engineering training leads to you becoming an FPGA engineer by teaching you basic digital logic design.


FPGA Engineer salary

Salaries for FPGA engineers depend on the work skills and experience you have. In general however, the salary of a Junior FPGA engineer is about $41,000 per year. With a few years of experience and increased skills, engineers can hope to earn about $117,000 on average. A Senior FPGA engineer has the potential to earn up to $232,000.

How much does a research engineer earn?

Junior $41,000
Average $117,000
Senior $232,000

How much do Freelance Research Engineers charge?

Average Freelancer Rate for FPGA Engineer

On average, freelance FPGA Engineers charge $89/hr. When taken at an 8-hour day, this amounts to $712 per day. (Freelancermap Index January 2020)

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