Robots are changing the way many businesses operate. As this trend continues, more companies will embrace robots, which means more demand for engineers to design and program them. Consequently, there’s never been a better time to pursue a career as a robotics engineer.
Robotics engineers can enjoy a relatively high degree of job security, competitive pay, and engaging work. While it’s far from an easy profession, it can be a fulfilling one. Here are five steps to follow if you’d like to start a career in this field.
1. Get a Relevant Degree
Like many engineering fields, you’ll need a degree to secure a job as a robotics engineer. While robotics technicians often only need an associate degree, most engineers hold bachelor’s degrees, so some job applicants may need to go back to school.
Some schools—especially technical institutes—offer robotics programs, but you don’t necessarily need an education that specific. Robotics-related fields like mechanical engineering, math, or computer science are more common and are sufficient. However, if your school offers robotics classes that aren’t part of your degree path, consider taking them.
Industry-leading robotics engineers may hold master’s degrees, so you may also want to consider your graduate education options. That said, you don’t typically need a higher-level degree to get a job as an engineer.
2. Gain Robotics Experience
Another important step in becoming a robotics engineer is gaining relevant experience. While you’ll ideally get some hands-on practice with robots during your education, pursuing projects outside of school is best. Many employers look for such evidence of your skills, which will help you stand out from others in the field.
While you may not be able to get an engineering job at this point, you can still gain relevant professional experience through other opportunities. Apprenticeships and internships are some of the best options. In some cases, you can transition directly from these programs to a full-time paid position.
You can also gain experience through personal projects. Try designing and building robots on your own time, documenting the process to show potential employers later.
3. Develop Relevant Soft Skills
If you want to excel as a robotics engineer, you should also acquire some related soft skills. These include time management, creativity, and problem-solving that are harder to teach and quantify but essential to your day-to-day engineering work.
Because printed circuit boards are some of the most critical components for robots, you’ll need skills like design and attention to detail to manage these technologies. Communication and collaboration skills are also crucial for working through problems with colleagues and presenting ideas to stakeholders.
The best way to develop these skills is to take on projects that require them. That includes designing circuits, programming, building small robots, and writing about these experiences. If there are any relevant areas you think you struggle in, focus on developing those.
4. Earn Professional Certifications
Like many other highly technical fields, you can also earn robotics certifications that help you stand out from other applicants. These often require taking a course or passing an exam but are shorter and less expensive than a degree. While not every position requires them, they’ll boost your chances of getting a competitive job.
The Association for Advancing Automation offers several robotics-focused professional certifications you can pursue. Alternatively, the REC Foundation, FANUC America, and the Smart Automation Certification Alliance also certify various levels of professionals and students.
You could also take extra online courses to prove your knowledge and skills. While these may not carry the same weight as an industry certification, they demonstrate many of the same talents.
5. Get Involved in the Community
Finally, if you want to become a robotics engineer, you should get involved in the robotics community. Employers fill up to 80% of jobs through networking, so making connections in the industry gives you a critical jumping-off point. This networking can also help you learn valuable skills and find opportunities for jobs, certifications, or other ways to gain experience.
Look for online groups and forums relating to robotics to get started. Talking to people here can help you find other opportunities and in-person events. You can also look for groups and gatherings in your area, like industry mixers and career fairs.
Even if your career doesn’t stem from this networking, it’s still a worthwhile pursuit. You may lay the groundwork for future partnerships or simply make lasting friendships in the industry.
Start Your Robotics Career Today
Robots are only becoming more popular, so robotics engineers are, too. If you want to capitalize on this shift or have a passion for robotics, pursuing a career as an engineer can be a profitable, fulfilling experience. While it won’t be easy, the barrier to entry is far from impossible.
Follow these five steps to start your career, regardless of where you’re beginning. If you can work hard and excel in these areas, you can kickstart a long and successful career as a robotics engineer.