Ivar Giaever earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Norwegian Institute of Technology in 1952 and emigrated from Norway to Canada in 1954, where he was employed by the Canadian division of General Electric and transferred to the United States. He has lived in Niskayuna, New York since then. While working for General Electric, Giaever earned a Ph.D. from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1964. In 1969, he researched biophysics for a year at Cambridge University, England.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, he has also been awarded the Oliver E. Buckley Prize by the American Physical Society in 1965, and the Zworykin Award by the National Academy of Engineering in 1974. Ivar Giaever is an enthusiastic global warming skeptic, as revealed in a 2008 meeting of Nobel prize winners in Lindau, Germany.