Quantum Computing and Engineering: Careers, Jobs & Top Universities

Quantum technology has brought new approaches called quantum engineering and quantum computing. Basic physics and engineering skills are required to cater to face the practical challenges by training in systems engineering, electronic and electrical engineering, computer science, and quantum mechanics. These traits also enable students or trainees for entrepreneurial business strategies.

Bigshots like Microsoft, Google, IBM are showing quite some interest in Quantum Computing, which makes it sounds like a hot topic to students looking for jobs

But is it just that? To pop the bubble, it’s not.

The career shares an interconnected relationship with various professionals such as engineers, developers, and researchers. This nascent field is holding many hopes in its arms. In this post, we will look at the careers in quantum computing and quantum engineering.

Careers in Quantum Computing & Engineering

Co-authored by Pavan Somwanshi

Quantum Technology

The field of Quantum Technology finds its roots in Physics, Engineering, and Computer Science. Quantum cryptography, quantum simulation, quantum metrology, and quantum computing which is a term highly in the talk are some branches of quantum technology. 

Quantum technology is an emerging field of physics and engineering, which relies on the principles of quantum physics; especially, quantum mechanics  (the physics of sub-atomic particles), including quantum entanglement and quantum superposition.

Quantum computing, quantum sensors, quantum cryptography, quantum simulation, quantum metrology, and quantum imaging are all examples of quantum technologies, where properties of quantum mechanics, especially quantum entanglement, quantum superposition, and quantum tunneling, are important.

Quantum Engineering

The field of quantum engineering focuses on the understanding, control, and design of complex quantum systems for applications in emerging quantum technologies such as extremely sensitive sensors, quantum communication systems, and quantum computers.

It encompasses both fundamental physics and the broad engineering skill-set necessary to meet the practical challenges of the future.

A quantum engineer will be trained to use the tools and language from quantum mechanics, electrical and electronic engineering, systems engineering, and computer science as well as other physical sciences.

What is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing is the processing of information that’s represented by special quantum states. By tapping into quantum phenomena like “superposition” and “entanglement,” these machines handle information in a fundamentally different way to “classical” computers like smartphones, laptops, or even today’s most powerful supercomputers.

Quantum computing harnesses the phenomena of quantum mechanics to deliver a huge leap forward in computation to solve certain problems.

For tasks such as cryptography, qubits and superposition would allow a quantum computer to analyze every potential solution simultaneously, making such systems much faster than conventional computers. 

What is a qubit? 

Today’s computers use bits—a stream of electrical or optical pulses representing 1s or 0s. Everything from your tweets and e-mails to your iTunes songs and YouTube videos is essentially long strings of these binary digits.

Quantum Computing Careers
Image Source: MIT Technology Review

Quantum computers, on the other hand, use qubits, which are typically subatomic particles such as electrons or photons. Generating and managing qubits is a scientific and engineering challenge. Some companies, such as IBM, Google, and Rigetti Computing, use superconducting circuits cooled to temperatures colder than deep space.

Others, like IonQ, trap individual atoms in electromagnetic fields on a silicon chip in ultra-high-vacuum chambers. In both cases, the goal is to isolate the qubits in a controlled quantum state.

Qubits have some quirky quantum properties that mean a connected group of them can provide way more processing power than the same number of binary bits. One of those properties is known as superposition and another is called entanglement. 

What is superposition? 

Qubits can represent numerous possible combinations of and at the same time. This ability to simultaneously be in multiple states is called superposition. To put qubits into superposition, researchers manipulate them using precision lasers or microwave beams.

what is quantum computing
Image Source: MIT Technology Review

Thanks to this counterintuitive phenomenon, a quantum computer with several qubits in superposition can crunch through a vast number of potential outcomes simultaneously.

The final result of a calculation emerges only once the qubits are measured, which immediately causes their quantum state to “collapse” to either or 0.

What is entanglement? 

Researchers can generate pairs of qubits that are “entangled,” which means the two members of a pair exist in a single quantum state. Changing the state of one of the qubits will instantaneously change the state of the other one in a predictable way. This happens even if they are separated by very long distances.

Quantum Computing and Quantum Engineering
Image Source: MIT Technology Review

Nobody really knows quite how or why entanglement works. It even baffled Einstein, who famously described it as “spooky action at a distance.” But it’s key to the power of quantum computers.

In a conventional computer, doubling the number of bits doubles its processing power. But thanks to entanglement, adding extra qubits to a quantum machine produces an exponential increase in its number-crunching ability.

Quantum computers harness entangled qubits in a kind of quantum daisy chain to work their magic. The machines’ ability to speed up calculations using specially designed quantum algorithms is why there’s so much buzz about their potential.

Researchers have long predicted that quantum computers could tackle certain types of problems — especially those involving a daunting number of variables and potential outcomes, like simulations or optimization questions — much faster than any classical computer.

Quantum Computers

Computers that perform quantum computations are known as quantum computers. Unlike classic computers who run calculations with just 1s and 0s, quantum computers perform calculations based on the probability of an object’s state before its measurement.

This makes them process data at a much faster pace. Developing algorithms to simulate quantum field theories is just one example of work in the field of Quantum Computing.

United States, China, Russia, and other such big world nations are making huge investments in Quantum computing as they succeed to understand its potential. Space engineering, Cybersecurity, Weather Forecasting, and Climate Change, Artificial Intelligence, and Medicine are some fields where Quantum Computing is expected to be of help.

A Few Examples of How Quantum Computing Can Help?

  • A logistics company, delivering to 50 cities, wants to know the optimal route to save on fuel costs
  • An investment company wants to balance risk of their investment portfolios
  • A pharmaceutical company wants to simulate molecules to better understand drug interactions

Career Prospects of Quantum Computing

Typical Job Profiles

Quantum Research Scientist

This career is gaining momentum are there are tons of discoveries to be made in this field that required talented and passionate individuals. Quantum Research Scientist is a wide term, some sub-areas of this expertise are Materials and surface, Design and Simulation, Device fabrication & Quantum algorithms. The average salary of a Quantum Research Scientist is $76,000 in the USA. 

Quantum Computer Engineer

The work of a Quantum Computer Engineer involves quantum mechanics, electrical and electronic engineering, systems engineering, and computer science. One way to become a Quantum Computer Engineer is to pursue a degree from grad school, get involved in projects, and make your way towards the industry. Quantum Engineer salaries currently range between $70,000 to $115,000.  

Quantum Software Engineer

As a Quantum software engineer, you have to work on optimizing the control schema of quantum processors and on automating the stages of the design processes. You will be involved in all phases of the Software Development Life Cycle; design, code, test, integration, and systems operations. Quantum software engineers earn an average salary of $80,000.

Professors of Quantum computing

Positions for teaching Quantum computing and its various aspects and being a part of the research are available at various universities. Professors of Quantum computing can earn an average salary of $60,000.

As the field is fairly new their arent too many career prospects for now, but as the field expands and grows with time more careers will introduce themselves.

Scopes and Job Prospects in Quantum Computing

Microsoft, Google, IBM, and other firms are all throwing tons of resources into quantum-computing research, hoping for a breakthrough that will make them a leader in this nascent industry. Read more about the Google AI Quantum research work.

“The large tech companies and research laboratories who are leading the charge on R&D in the pure quantum computing hardware space are looking for people with advanced degrees in key STEM fields like physics, math, and engineering”

– John Prisco, President & CEO of Quantum Xchange

According to him, this markets a “quantum-safe key distribution” that supposedly will bridge the gap between traditional encryption solutions and quantum computing-driven security. “This is in large part because there are few programs today that actually offer degrees or specializations in quantum technology.”

When Prisco was in graduate school, he added, “There were four of us in the electrical engineering program with the kind of physical training this field calls for.” More recently, “I’ve recently seen universities like MIT and Columbia investing in offering this training to current students, but it’s going to take a while to produce experts.”

There’s every chance that increased demand for quantum-skilled technologists could drive even more universities to spin up the right kind of training and education programs.

Required Qualifications for Careers in Quantum Computing & Engineering

Herman Collins, CEO of StrategicQC, a recruiting agency for the quantum-computing ecosystem, believes that sourcing quantum-related talent at this stage comes down to credentials. “Because advanced quantum expertise is rare, the biggest sign that a candidate is qualified is whether they have a degree in one of the fields of study that relates to quantum computing,” he said.

“I would say that degrees, particularly advanced degrees, such as quantum physics obviously, physics theory, math or computer science are a good start. A focus on machine learning or artificial intelligence would be excellent as part of an augmented dynamic quantum skill set.”

Top Universities for Quantum Computing

Top Institutes for Quantum Computing in India

  • Harish-Chandra Research Institute (HRI) – Quantum Information and Computation Group
  • Indian Institute of Science
  • Raman Research Institute in India
  • Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal
  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) – Quantum Measurement and Control Laboratory

Top Universities for Quantum Computing Abroad

ETH Zurich – Masters in Quantum Engineering

ETH Zurich’s  Masters in Quantum Engineering is a joint program of the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering & the Department of Physics.  All the courses and the semester project are completed in three semesters and the Master’s thesis takes an additional six months to complete. Students can then apply for internships for job experience.

UCL – Quantum Technologies MSc

This master’s program can be completed in one year if done full-time, part-time students can complete it in 2 years.

Duke – Software and Hardware courses

Software Engineering & Programming, Data Structures, and Algorithms in C++ are courses in software and Quantum Mechanics courses are hardware related.

University of Munich – MSc Quantum Science & Technology

The Master’s program is designed for a two-year period. The Master’s program combines world-renowned study and research.

University of Oxford – MSc in Advanced Computer Science

Combining theory and practice, this 12-month course covers specification, design, and efficient implementation of both software and hardware.

University of Basel  – Ph.D. in Quantum Computing and Quantum Technology

The University of Basel provides excellent graduate programs in Quantum Computing and Quantum Technology

ANU – Master of Science in Quantum Technology

Master of Science in Quantum Technology is a 2-year full-time program at Australian National University.

USC – Masters-Level Quantum Computing Degree

A typical Ph.D. study takes around 5 years. With its MSQIS program, it is hoping to close the gap between academic research and urgent demand for filling positions in the quantum computing industry.

University of Waterloo – Interdisciplinary graduate program in Quantum Information

This graduate program is designed to provide both theoretical and practical knowledge. This program leads to MMath, MSc, MASc, and Ph.D. degrees. It offers graduate students unique opportunities to learn about and engage in world-leading research in quantum information.

University of Wisconsin-Madison – M.S. in Physics–Quantum Computing 

 M.S. in Physics–Quantum Computing is a professional master’s degree that is designed to be completed in one year. The program provides students with a thorough grounding in the new discipline of quantum information and quantum computing.

University of Glasgow – MSc Quantum Technology

This Masters’s program will provide training in the emerging area of quantum technologies & in the relevant physics and engineering. This program includes lectures, tutorials, seminars, laboratory practical classes, small group supervision, and a private study & research project in the final part of the program.

University of Sussex – MSc Quantum Technology

This program can be done full-time in one year and part-time in 2 years. In the full-time program, you work on your project throughout the year while in the part-time program you work on the project after 1st year.

University of Strathclyde – Ph.D. training program 

This Graduate School provides a comprehensive 3.5 year Ph.D. training program covering the advancement and application of Quantum Technologies from fundamental physics to practical technologies.

University of Chicago – Bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees 

The University of Chicago offers bachelors and Ph.D. degrees in quantum information science fields through the School of Molecular Engineering and the Physical Science Division. Undergraduate majors include physics, chemistry, computer science, and molecular engineering. 

MIT – Quantum computing programs

MIT offers a full set of courses introducing you to quantum computing, quantum mechanics, and quantum information systems. Learning involves practical processes and methods through simulations, assessments, case studies, and tools.

Other Top Universities for Quantum Computing Abroad

  • The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University — Centre for Quantum Technologies
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Bristol
  • Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
  • University of Innsbruck – Quantum Information & Computation
  • University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) – Division of Quantum Physics and Quantum Information
  • UC Santa Barbara
  • Princeton University – Quantum Computing
  • Caltech – Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM)
  • University of California Berkeley
  • Univeristy of Maryland
  • Southern Illinois University – Quantum Computing Group
  • Purdue University – Purdue Quantum Centre

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.

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