When will it open? How can you find jobs? 5 things to know about Phoenix’s TSMC semiconductor plant

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. marked a milestone this week with a “tool-in” ceremony at its new semiconductor fab in north Phoenix while announcing a second such factory at the site. It’s an expensive, advanced and massive operation — and significant enough to attract President Joe Biden for a visit.

It’s also a landmark investment that will strengthen and expand metro Phoenix’s economy for years, especially as semiconductors are embraced in more applications, from appliances to artificial intelligence.

Here are five key things to know about the complex and the company.

1. The new factory is a big, high-tech marvel

The TSMC factory, or fab, is massive and will feature state-of-the-art technology when it begins commercial operation in 2024.  It sits on more than 1,000 acres in north Phoenix just west of Interstate 17 along West Dove Valley Road — the huge cranes and new buildings are visible from the freeway. The campus measures nearly two miles by one mile and has enough space to fit six fabs, though only one is currently under construction, with the second slated to go up and start operations around 2026.

When complete, the first fab will feature the most advanced semiconductor-process technology in the U.S. The second will make even smaller, and thus more advanced, chips.

Between the two fabs, TSMC is sinking $40 billion into the projects. The company likely will qualify for federal grants under the CHIPS & Science Act when funding guidelines are announced early next year.

The fabs are expected to generate 21,000 construction jobs. They’re also going up with the help of one of the world’s largest cranes, a behemoth that workers must take apart and reassemble every time it moves to different job sites because it wouldn’t comfortably fit on even a two-lane highway.

2. TSMC will add more staff

The company already has added staff to work at the new complex, and that was before TSMC this week announced that it will more than double its Phoenix workforce from 2,000 initially to 4,500 or so within a few years.

Many of the jobs are technical, including engineers, some of whom have trained in Taiwan for 12 to 18 months.

“Before we see even a single wafer, we will have more than 1,000 people trained,” said  Dr. Morris Chang, the company’s 91-year-old founder, who attended the ceremony marking Biden’s visit. That includes some Taiwanese citizens, too.

Clearly, most of the positions are scientific and engineering in nature, but there are others. The company posts openings at tsmc.com, under the “careers” section. Recent job listings include those in accounting and customer support as well as memory-design managers and project managers.

“Over the next few years, (the TSMC complex) will create tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, many of which don’t require an advanced degree,” said Sen. Mark Kelly, who championed the CHIPS & Science Act.

3. Other companies will hire, too