Early in his career, Schmidt held a series of technical positions with IT companies including Byzromotti Design, Bell Labs (in research and development),Zilog, and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).
Schmidt joined Sun Microsystems in 1983 as its first software manager. He rose to become director of software engineering, vice president and general manager of the software products division, vice president of the general systems group, and president of Sun Technology Enterprises.
During his time at Sun, he was the target of two notable April Fool's Day pranks. In the first, his office was taken apart and rebuilt on a platform in the middle of a pond, complete with a working phone. The next year, a working Volkswagen Beetle was taken apart and re-assembled in his office.
Schmidt joined Google's board of directors as chairman in March 2001, and became the company's CEO in August 2001. At Google, Schmidt shared responsibility for Google's daily operations with founders Page and Brin. Prior to the Google IPO, Schmidt had responsibilities typically assigned to the CEO of a public company and focused on the management of the vice presidents and the sales organization. According to Google, Schmidt's job responsibilities included "building the corporate infrastructure needed to maintain Google's rapid growth as a company and on ensuring that quality remains high while the product development cycle times are kept to a minimum."
In 2007, PC World ranked Schmidt as the first on its list of the 50 most important people on the Web, along with Google co-founders Page and Brin.
On January 20, 2011, Google announced that Schmidt would step down as the CEO of Google but continue as the executive chairman of the company and act as an adviser to co-founders Page and Brin. Page replaced Schmidt as the CEO on April 4, 2011.
Schmidt was elected to Apple Inc.'s board of directors on August 28, 2006. On August 3, 2009, it was announced that Schmidt would resign from the board of directors at Apple due to conflicts of interest amid the growing competition between Google and Apple.
Schmidt was a campaign advisor and major donor to Barack Obama and served on Google’s government relations team. Obama considered him for Commerce Secretary. Schmidt was an informal advisor to the Obama presidential campaign and began campaigning the week of October 19, 2008, on behalf of the candidate. He was mentioned as a possible candidate for the chief technology officer position, which Obama created in his administration. After Obama won in 2008, Schmidt became a member of President Obama's transition advisory board. He proposed that the easiest way to solve all of the problems of the United States at once, at least in domestic policies, is by a stimulus program that rewards renewable energy and, over time, attempts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. He has since become a new member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology PCAST.
Upon being hired at Google, Eric Schmidt was paid a salary of $250,000 and an annual performance bonus. He was granted 14,331,703 shares of Class B common stock at $.30 cents per share and 426,892 shares of Series C preferred stock at purchase price of $2.34.
Schmidt and the Google founders agreed to a base salary of US $1 in 2004 (which continued through 2010) with other compensation of $557,465 in 2006, $508,763 in 2008, and $243,661 in 2009. He did not receive any additional stock or options in 2009 or 2010. Most of his compensation was for "personal security" and charters of private aircraft.
Schmidt is one of a few people who became billionaires (in United States dollars) based on stock options received as employees in corporations of which they were neither the founders nor relatives of the founders. In its 2011 'World's Billionaires' list, Forbes ranked Schmidt as the 136th-richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $7 billion. Google gave him a $100 million equity award in 2011 when he stepped down as CEO.
According to insider transaction data available at Yahoo! Finance, Schmidt sold Google stock worth more than $6 billion from January to May 2013.
The New America Foundation is a non-profit public policy institute and think tank, founded in 1999. Schmidt is the current chairman of the board of directors. He succeeded founding chairman James Fallows in 2008. On becoming its chairman, Schmidt made an unrestricted $1 million donation to the think tank.
The Schmidt Family Foundation's subsidiaries include ReMain Nantucket and the Marine Science and Technology Foundation; its main charitable program is the 11th Hour Project. The Foundation has also awarded grants to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Energy Foundation. The Foundation is the main funder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute, supporting the acquisition and operation of its research vessels.
The Schmidts, working with Heart Howerton, a San Francisco architectural firm that specializes in large-scale land use, have inaugurated several projects on the island of Nantucket that seek to sustain the unique character of the island and to minimize the impact of seasonal visitation on the island's core community.
In 2009, Eric and Wendy Schmidt endowed the Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund at Princeton University with $25 million. The Fund’s purpose is to support cutting edge research and technology in the natural sciences and engineering, encouraging collaboration across disciplines. It awarded $1.2 million in grants in 2010 and $1.7 million in grants in 2012.
Publicly Schmidt stated that, as paraphrased by CNN/Money, "there has to be a trade-off between privacy concerns and functionality." His explanations referenced "Don't Be Evil".
During an interview aired on December 3, 2009, on the CNBC documentary "Inside the Mind of Google," Schmidt was asked, "People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they be?" He replied: "I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that information could be made available to the authorities."
At the Techonomy conference on August 4, 2010, Schmidt expressed that technology is good. And he said that the only way to manage the challenges is "much greater transparency and no anonymity." Schmidt also stated that in an era of asymmetric threats, "true anonymity is too dangerous." However, at the 2013 Hay Festival, Schmidt expressed concern that sharing of personal information was too rampant and could have a negative effect, particularly on teenagers, stating that "we have never had a generation with a full photographic, digital record of what they did" and that "here are situations in life that it’s better that they don’t exist." 
In 2013 Schmidt stated that the government surveillance in the United States was the "nature of our society" and that he was not going to "pass judgment on that". On the revelation that the NSA has been secretly spying on Google's data centers worldwide, he called the practice "outrageous" and criticized the NSA's collection of Americans phone records
In 2005 Google blacklisted CNET reporters from talking to Google employees for one year, until July 2006, after CNET published personal information on Schmidt, including his politician donations, hobbies, salary, and neighborhood, that had been obtained through Google searches.
In August 2010, Schmidt clarified his company's views on network neutrality: "I want to be clear what we mean by Net neutrality: What we mean is if you have one data type like video, you don't discriminate against one person's video in favor of another. But it's okay to discriminate across different types. So you could prioritize voice over video. And there is general agreement with Verizon and Google on that issue."
In January 2013, Schmidt and Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas visited North Korea along with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. The trip was highly publicized and controversial due to the ongoing tension between North Korea and the United States.Tumblr, a Yahoo!-owned social-blogging site, featured a page titled, “Eric Schmidt looking at things”, and included photographs of Mr. Schmidt looking intently at computer screens and other scenes in North Korea. On August 10, 2013, North Korea announced an indigenous smartphone, named Arirang, that may be using the Google Android operating system.
In March 2013, Schmidt visited Myanmar (also known as Burma), which had been ruled by a military junta for decades and is transitioning to a democracy. During his visit, Schmidt spoke in favor of free and open Internet use in the country, and was scheduled to meet with the country’s president.
In 2013, Schmidt and Jared Cohen, director of the Google Ideas think tank, published The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, which discusses the geopolitical implications of increasingly widespread Internet use and access to information. The book was inspired by an essay in Foreign Affairs magazine the two co-wrote in 2010. 
^Eric Schmidt (1979). "The Berkeley Network – A Retrospective". Computer Science Division, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved June 14, 2011
^"CEO Eric Eric Schmidt stood out because he 'was the only candidate who had been to Burning Man.'" From "Markoff and Zachary on Google"; quoted are John Markoff and Gregg Zachary. See also Business Week's "Eric Eric Schmidt, Google" from September 29, 2003: "One of the first orders of business was joining his new 20-something colleagues at Burning Man, a free-form festival of artistic self-expression held in a Nevada desert lake bed. Sitting in his office shortly after his return, tanned and slightly weary, Eric Schmidt couldn't have been happier. "They're keeping me young," he declared."
^"Earlier this year, he pulled in almost US$90 million from sales of Google stock and made at least another US$50 million selling shares in the past two months as the stock leaped to more than US$300 a share." Mills, Elinor (August 3, 2005). "Google balances privacy, reach". CNET. Archived from the original on 2005. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
^ abcWesthoven, Jennifer. "CNET: We've been blackballed by Google." (Archive) CNNMoney. August 5, 2005. Retrieved on September 16, 2013. "Schmidt is officially Google's chief champion and defender, and has publicly said that there has to be a trade-off between privacy concerns and functionality. He has brought up Google's corporate motto, "Don't Be Evil" in those defenses. "
^"Google Execs Say 'The Power Of Information Is Underrated'". All Tech Considered. NPR. April 23, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2013. "Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen recently returned from a highly publicized trip to North Korea. They discuss the role of the Internet in more repressive countries."
^Youkyung Lee (August 16, 2013). "Skepticism as NKorea shows home-grown smartphone". AP Newswire. Stars & Stripes. Retrieved August 19, 2013. "The Korean Central News Agency's Aug. 10 report said the factory began manufacturing smartphones 'a few days ago' ... Kim Mun-gu, a manager at a South Korean mobile phone company, said the Arirang smartphone appears to be using the Android operating system. He said the photos aren't convincing as proof the North is manufacturing the phones"