Robotics technicians begin training by enrolling in a 2-year robotics technology degree program at a technical or vocational college to earn their associate's degree in robotics technology. Coursework focuses on applying precise mathematical applications to create and program electronic, mechanical and hydraulic systems. Robotics engineers are required to have a bachelor's degree in engineering. Although the positions perform related tasks, engineers perform duties that are more complex and are expected to have a greater understanding of robotic systems and mechanical engineering.
Employment opportunities are best for robotics technology professionals with 3-5 years of experience. Technicians and engineers with minimal experience may take entry-level jobs or internships that offer on-the-job training programs.
Associate of Science in Robotics Technology
A robotics technology degree program prepares students to work with various mechanical, electrical and programming systems. Programs combine core mathematical and physics courses with engineering labs that allow students to work with robotic components and tools. Students learn how to program robotic systems using programming, fabrication and orientation practices. Common courses include:
- Technical electricity
- Engineering schematics and diagrams
- Computer-aided drafting (CAD)
- Robotic manufacturing
- Programmable logic controllers
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Bachelor of Science in Engineering
A broad engineering bachelor's degree program introduces students to all aspects of mechanical, operational, electrical and construction engineering. Students gain practical engineering experience in labs and mechanical projects. Some programs may offer bachelor's degrees in specific fields like mechanical or computer science engineering. Programs typically include courses in:
- Engineering research and statistics
- Thermodynamics and fluid mechanics
- Engineering instrumentation
- Design and manufacturing
- Engineering project management
- Advanced topics in construction engineering
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for mechanical engineering technicians across the nation was $53,910 as of May 2015. The BLS reported that mechanical engineers earned a median salary of around $83,590 in the same time period. During the decade spanning from 2014 to 2024, the BLS predicted that the demand for mechanical engineers would grow at a rate of 5%, and technicians, at 2% (www.bls.gov).
Robotics technicians and engineers are not required to be licensed or certified, but may volunteer to take two exams to obtain IBM Certified Specialist for Rational Test Management and Robot Certification, which tests the applicant's knowledge of Rational Robot, Rational TestManager and Rational Administrator calibration and evaluation programs.
Students may desire to continue to an advanced degree for more opportunities in supervisory or research-based positions. Informal workshops are often held by colleges and robotics technology organizations, by local or regional nonprofit organizations such as the Seattle Robotics Society (SRS), or by national institutions such as the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) which offers training seminars and tutorials online and in-person that address issues like safety, risk assessment and evaluation techniques for robotic systems. Other national organizations include the Motor Control Association (MCA), the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). These organizations provide a wealth of information on career advancement and professional development within robotics technology.
Students interested in a degree in robotics have the option of an Associate of Science in robotics technology or a Bachelor of Science in engineering. Job growth for these fields are on the decline, so pursuing a Ph.D. in either field might give you a more competitive edge for jobs.