How to Become an Animatronic Engineer: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Find out how to become an animatronic engineer. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in animatronic engineering.

Should I Become An Animatronic Engineer?

Animatronic engineers develop, configure and operate mechanical creations to create lifelike qualities, typically for movies or other entertainment. Like many other mechanical engineers, animatronic engineers might work in a comfortable office environment, where they can collaborate with other engineers.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degree for some management positions
Degree Fields Mechanical engineering, robotics, entertainment engineering
Key Skills Math and artistic skills, problem-solving ability, strong written and oral communication; graphic design software, knowledge of Linux systems and C++ or Python; mechanical construction techniques, such as soldering
Salary $95,790 (Median annual salary for electronics engineers as of May 2014)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bosch Research and Technology Center, Worchester Polytechnic University, University of Nevada - Las Vegas Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Animatronic engineers may pursue a degree in robotic, mechanical or entertainment engineering. These programs typically include training in robotics, construction and structural design, as well as courses in mathematics, computer science and physics. Prospective animatronic engineers can also study art, drafting and 3-D design to learn about the creative aspect of animatronics.

Success Tips:

  • Complete an internship. Most employers prefer applicants with prior experience. Interns may work with research and engineering teams to develop software, test new machines or gather information on existing machines.
  • Learn relevant software. Many internships and jobs require knowledge of Linux operating systems and a programming language, such as C++ or Python. Students can gain these skills in advanced computer science courses.

Step 2: Get On-The-Job Training

Because formal education programs are rare for this field, animatronic engineers may receive most of their job-specific knowledge from hands-on training. Entry-level animatronics positions offer opportunities to develop, build and troubleshoot robotic and animatronic creations. Engineers may use computer software and applications to create lifelike models and draw up hardware specifications. They may also learn welding, soldering and other construction techniques used to connect parts.

Step 3: Gain Advanced Experience

As new hires gain experience, they may become more involved in the development of animatronic devices, including choosing materials, reviewing calculations and budgeting costs. Animatronic engineers may also be responsible for installing parts, providing technical support and debugging programs. As they advance, these professionals might supervise technicians and other engineers or work on a specific aspect of a project, such as improving mechanical motion or creating a more sustainable structure.

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