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Robotics Engineer Career Info

Learn about the job duties of a robotics engineer. Discover what education is necessary as well as salary and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career choice.

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Career Definition for a Robotics Engineer

An engineering discipline that is on the rise, robotics engineering is a breeding ground for creativity and innovation from people with a background in mechanical, electrical, or software engineering. Robotics engineers may work in the agricultural, military, medical, and manufacturing industries, among others, conceiving of new uses for robots, designing improved robots for existing systems, or repairing and maintaining industrial robots, says the Princeton Review. Because robots are already widely used (on production lines, for example), hands-on technical jobs can easily be found in the robotics engineering field, but there are also plenty of opportunities to take on more inventive roles in experimental arenas.

Education Bachelor's degree minimum, but a master's degree recommended; Ph.D. also available
Job Skills Creativity, math and science skills, team oriented
Median Salary (2015)* $95,900 (for engineers not categorized, including robotics engineers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% (for engineers not categorized, including robotics engineers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends that engineers earn a bachelor's degree at minimum, but those aiming to excel in their careers would be wise to follow up with a two-year master's degree program in their chosen field. Robotics engineers come from a variety of engineering backgrounds, most notably mechanical, electrical, and software engineering, though some schools do offer programs in robotics engineering specifically.

By enrolling in a degree program accredited by ABET, engineers can begin pursuing the Professional Engineer (PE) certification. Along with an accredited degree, passing grades on two professional exams are required: the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, which may be taken immediately after graduation, and the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PPE) exam, which may be taken after accruing the state's required work experience. To pursue the most creative concept and design jobs in the field, many robotics engineers go all the way to earn a Ph.D., which takes a few additional years.

Skills Required

Robotics engineers should be highly creative, self-motivated individuals with an ability to think outside the box. Their advanced mathematics, applied physical science, and computer science skills should be solid, and they should enjoy collaborating with a team and be adept at communicating with others. Because the programming of new robots is considered by some to be the most challenging aspect of robotics engineering, particular expertise or a degree in software engineering is highly desirable and may expand a robotics engineer's career options considerably.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, employment for uncategorized engineers, including robotics engineers, is expected to grow at a slightly slower than average rate of 4% for 2014-2024. The BLS also published that the median salary earned by all uncategorized engineers in 2015 was $95,900 a year.

Alternative Careers

Here are some other options for careers in branches of engineering:

Electro-Mechanical Technician

If repairing and installing robotic assembly equipment and similar devices sounds like an interesting career, consider becoming an electro-mechanical technician. These technicians fit together component pieces during the installation of new computer-operated mechanical machinery. Electro-mechanical technicians also interpret schematics and blueprints, analyze operational problems, repair damage, use metalworking tools to construct new parts and run testing protocols for performance review.

A certificate or associate degree in mechanical or electronic technology is generally how most enter this field. Professional organizations, such as the National Institute for Certification in Engineering, offer certification that may provide a competitive edge. According to BLS data, employment growth of only 1% is projected for electro-mechanical technicians between 2014 and 2024. In May of 2015, the BLS reported the median annual income of these technicians to be $53,340.

Mechanical Engineering Technician

Under the supervision of an engineer, mechanical engineering technicians help create and verify computer schematics and other drawings. They also build and install new components, analyze performance through the use of tests and prepare reports from collected data. Earning an associate degree or completing a vocational program in mechanical engineering technology is usually required by employers, and coursework should include math, basic science, mechanical design and fluid mechanics.

Based on 2015 figures from the BLS, mechanical engineering technicians earned a median salary of $53,910. Job opportunities in this field are predicted to increase by 2% from 2014-2024, which is slower than the national average.

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