Robotics engineers design and create robots and robotic systems.
Robotics has been around since the mid 1990s, and in that time various industries have found and exploited its broad set of useful applications. Manufacturing, medical science, energy and scientific research are just some of the growing list of industries that use robotics. Technology analysts expect their application and use to grow rapidly in coming years, and eventually to permeate the domestic market.
Those presently working in robotics engineering typically fall into one or more of these 3 skills areas:
- Computer Aided Drafting & Design: These engineers design and improve the blueprints for robotic systems, using cutting-edge 3D modeling programs such as AutoCAD, Blender, Inventor and SolidWorks to design plans and schematics.
- Building: Robotics engineers also work in the hands-on construction of robots, as well as creating the manufacturing tools and processes that will build the robots. Increasingly, these professionals can expect to employ 3D printing packages such as Roboze and 3DP.
- Research & Development: Robotic systems often require redesign and modification for new use. Robotics Engineers are at the forefront of R&D. Some researchers work in academia, wielding soft skills in critical thinking, analysis and communication to teach others.
Regardless of where robotics engineers work, their job role is the same: to develop robots that fulfill functions more efficiently, cost-effectively, faster or safer than humans are able with existing technology.
As with most engineering roles, robotics engineering jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree at the very minimum, with more responsible and higher paid roles available to those with more qualifications. Accredited universities and private computer schools offer a range of courses and degrees to prepare you for a career in robotics engineering. Compare robotics engineer training programs online and in your area.
a.k.a. Robotics Automation Developer | Robot Programmer | Robotic Systems Engineer | Robot Integrator | Mechanical or Manufacturing Engineer
Robotics Engineer Salary
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Robotics Engineer Job Outlook
Skills & Responsibilities
Depending on which area they work and which part of the process, a typical working day of a Robotics Engineer can include the following skills and activities. Robotics engineers:
- Use CADD software to create blueprints and schematics for robotic systems
- Develop software and processes that dictate robotic systems functionality
- May design the machines and manufacturing systems that will build the robots
- Build and test the robotic system's individual parts or the system as a whole
- Build the prototype and analyze its functions while looking for and fixing flaws
- In some cases, work as technical support for robot sellers and end-users
- Perform continued research and development (R&D) for improvements in the next generation
- Require exceptional soft skills in areas like creative problem-solving, teamwork and communication
- Some robotics engineers use cutting-edge concepts like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to boost performance of robotic systems.
Robotics Engineer Salary
- The average annual salary for robotics engineers in the United States is $100,000. The average hourly pay rate is $30.
Average salaries for robotics engineers and related career paths:
- CAD Designer: $56,000
- Mechanical Engineer: $78,000
- Process Engineer: $82,000
- Controls Engineer: $84,000
- Machining Manager: $88,000
- Automation Engineer: $95,000
- Hardware Engineer: $99,000
- Robotics Engineer: $100,000
- Software Engineer: $101,000
A strong aptitude for the sciences is required to gain acceptance into a relevant robotics engineering degree program. High school students should concentrate on physics and math in particular, with advanced placements in algebra and trigonometry advisable. After school science clubs will also be helpful to demonstrate extracurricular interest.
There are presently no dedicated robotics undergraduate degree programs. Instead, prospective college students should study mechanical or electronic engineering, choosing a degree program with coursework and electives in robotics and related fields of study. Undergraduate students should take minors or electives in software engineering, coding – particularly for the C programming language. Most high-quality training programs will offer the student an opportunity to work as an intern at a robotics company in the area. Internships provide work experience that will add weight to the student’s postgraduate study (such as a master’s degree).
It is advisable but not essential to pursue an MS in Robotics, but postgraduate degrees allow the student to study a subject in greater depth, developing their own career or academic niche. As robotics become more complex, and requiring greater expertise, MS robotics degrees could be essential in the future. Students who wish to manage their own projects or eventually take on greater responsibility should seriously consider a master’s degree considering the upturn in job opportunities.
Marketable skills to look for in a robotics engineer degree program include using specialist software such as CADD (computer aided drafting and design) packages. They will need advanced math skills including algebra and trigonometry, and practical skills in mechanics and electronics. It is highly likely the candidate will need coding experience, particularly with Embedded C. Engineers are natural problem solvers, demonstrating the personality traits of adaptability and pragmatism.
Compare training programs that align with robotics engineers' education requirements.
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Many robotics engineers will seek out certifications to grow their niche skills and validate these skills to prospective employers. You will need to pass extra exams and often demonstrate existing work experience when seeking certification in robotics engineering.
Here are some of the leading certifying bodies and credentials in robotics engineering and the key skills areas they cover:
- The National Robotics Training Center (NRTC) offers four credentials demonstrating the skills needed by robotics engineers, production technicians, and manufacturers employed in the robotics and intelligent systems workforce. These certifications include the CMA: Certified Manufacturing Associate, CRT: Certified Robotics Technician, and the CREA 1 and CREA 2: Certified Robotics Engineering Associate 1 and 2.
- Robotic Industries Association (RIA) provides its RIA Certified Robot Integrator cert for programmers and outfitters of robotic systems. Their rigorous assessment includes on-site audit, risk assessments, safety training and individual exams.
- National Robotics Engineering Center offers safety certification for unmanned robotics for commercial and military use.
Robotics Engineer Jobs
Your robotics engineering training and experience may qualify you for a range of positions. Browse and apply to:
- Robotics Engineer jobs
- Mechanical Engineer jobs
- Process Engineer jobs
- Software Engineer jobs
- Electrical Engineer jobs
- CAD Designer jobs
- Embedded Software Engineer jobs
The job outlook for electro-mechanical technicians in the US had seen a drop between 2004 and 2015 at an average of 2.1% per year with openings declining by a massive 12.5%. The reason is that during this time, these systems were largely manufactured for industries in decline or stagnating, unlikely to experience improvement for some time – for example, manufacturing and niche areas such as science research and exploration (NASA), neither of which are growth areas.
However, due to recent technological advancements and the increased affordability of robotics elsewhere, industry analysts expect an increase of 5% per year between 2016 and 2018 for robotics, bucking the trend of the industry with over 55,000 new openings made available (Recruiter.com). This is much faster than the average growth rate of all U.S. jobs which is a projected 7% from 2016 – 2026 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Graduates and executives with skills relevant to robotics engineering are unlikely to struggle to find work; they have transferable skills that will be relevant to other areas of electronics and mechanical engineering.
Although traditional manufacturing is not expected to increase, new technologies and processes will develop that could benefit from automated systems. This can explain the influx of job openings and significant shift from an industry experiencing negative growth to one with a bright outlook. Some of this may also come from green technologies as automation of harnessing wind, solar and water power may be required in future.
Sources: Recruiter.com | U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook
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