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Career guide: Robotics engineer

Thursday, August 31, 2017
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Career guide: Robotics engineer

We live in the digital age, and robotics is no longer a discipline reserved exclusively for the realm of science fiction. Indeed, as detailed in an article from the World Bank, the utilization of robotics, across a whole range of industries, continues to grow, and this exciting field is opening up career opportunities for highly-skilled workers with an educational and professional background in engineering. If you have an interdisciplinary understanding of many core engineering concepts, pursuing a career as a robotics engineer could well be a smart move. Eager to learn more? Read on to learn more:

What does a robotics engineer do?
As detailed in an article from Chegg Internships, robotics have now become commonplace across many industries. We haven't quite reached the point where robots are standard in the home, but they can be found everywhere from health care to business, from agriculture to aerospace, from manufacturing to mining. The primary responsibility of a robotics engineer, therefore, is to work in the design and development of robots, from the initial planning of the devices to the manufacturing stage. This is often completed as part of a team, with professionals coming together to work on big robotics design projects, Career Igniter noted. 

As noted, robotics engineers can be found in many industries, with notable examples including the military, agriculture, aerospace, manufacturing and mining. NASA, for example, hires a great number of robotics engineers to work on devices that can be sent into space, to explore unchartered territory and send back data. 

What skills are necessary to succeed?
Robotics engineers need to have academic knowledge and experience in several critical areas, the Houston Chronicle explained. They include electronics, mathematics, mechanical engineering processes, material sciences, control systems and pneumatics, to name a few. Interdisciplinary education is necessary to succeed because the construction of a robot combines expertise from all of these separate disciplines. Robotics engineers must also be good at envisioning innovative solutions to complex problems - a strong creative streak, in a sense, is key. 

What education is needed?
Given that robotics engineering is a relatively new field, there is not a single, clearly defined educational path for entering the profession. What is clear, however, is that a bachelor's degree is absolutely necessary, Science Buddies reported. Candidates with bachelor's degrees in a range of engineering disciplines - mechanical, electrical, manufacturing and industrial, for example - are all well-suited to head down this career path. Advanced degrees, at the Master's or PhD level, are preferable, however, as the role requires a nuanced and multi-faceted knowledge that undergraduate degree programs may be unable to provide.

As pointed out by the Houston Chronicle, there are academic programs that focus specifically on robotics, both at the undergraduate and advanced degree level. The source noted the examples of the University of Pennsylvania and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which both have robotics engineering graduate programs. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also renowned for allowing undergraduate students to study robotics and specialize in the topic. As the field continues to expand, the number of educational programs that specify in this topic will surely grow. 

How much do robotics engineers get paid?
Robotics engineers are classified as mechanical engineers, Career Igniter noted. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanical engineers are typically compensated very well, with a median nationwide salary of a little over $84,000 a year. This, of course, is just an average. It is easy for mechanical engineers to take home salaries well in excess of six figures. This is particularly common among engineers with advanced degrees and more extensive experience. 

What is the job outlook?
As noted by the BLS, the employment outlook for mechanical engineers is promising, with 5 percent growth forecast by 2024, compared with numbers taken in 2014, the BLS outlined. Those in robotics are in a unique position, as their skills and experience in this growing industry will likely place them in high demand. 

Robotics is an innovative career field. Robotics is an innovative career field.

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