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The Challenges of Hiring Engineers These Days

IntriCon Corp., an Arden Hills company, is always working to make its hearing aids, cardiac diagnostic monitors and other devices smaller. That effort requires engineers with specific skills, including knowledge of wireless technology and digital signal processing, and IntriCon is eager to add to its stable of 33 engineers.

The search has been such a struggle that the company — with annual sales of $60 million — has partnered with an engineering firm on some critical work. "This has been an ongoing challenge for us," said Scott Longval, the company's chief financial officer. "There's a small base and a lot of competition for engineers with these specific skill sets."

Its search has gradually evolved from a local to a national hunt that expanded overseas. The base pay isn't bad — up to $120,000 a year — but it took seven months to find Jack Lieng, an engineer from Taiwan who has wireless skills. That included two months of paperwork to secure an H1-B visa for Lieng, now a wireless audio system engineer for IntriCon. "Clearly it's cheaper to locate these resources locally," Longval said. "Unfortunately, that's not always an option."

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