How to Become a Robotics Engineer in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become a robotics engineer. Learn about the job duties, education requirements, salary, and job outlook to find out if this is the right career for you.
What Does a Robotics Engineer Do?
Robotics engineers are responsible for the design and creation of robots. Anything you have fantasized about as a child might be realized in the form of an automated system and synchronization with other devices that interact with a robot. In the process of design, you will also be responsible for system diagnostics, troubleshooting, and the supervision of mechanical maintenance and repair. Engineers typically work in groups, so it will help to have a collaborative mindset.
The table below provides an outline of the general requirements for this career.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree, master's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Electronics engineering, mechanical engineering|
|Key Responsibilities||Reviewing designs and calculations, debugging programs, calibrating and servicing robots, integrating robots with other devices|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||4% to 6%*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$96,980*|
*Source: O*NET OnLine
What is a Robotics Engineer?
Robotics engineers are engineering technologists who apply principles from mechanical, manufacturing and electrical engineering to design and test robots, automated systems and new applications. If you work as a robotics engineer, your duties might include reviewing designs and calculations, debugging programs, calibrating and servicing robots, integrating robots with other mechanical devices and supervising other technicians and engineers.
This occupation requires that you be adept with hand tools and knowledgeable in mathematics, computer programming and computer-aided design and drafting. You'll usually work as part of a team because of the collaborative nature of this field.
Step 1: Take Advanced Math and Science Courses in High School
If you're in high school, taking advanced placement classes in algebra and trigonometry, computer science, computer-aided design and physics are good options to prepare yourself for an engineering career. Participating in your school's robotics club and entering robotics competitions provide you with practical experience working with robots, as well as demonstrates your interest in them to college admissions officers.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Bachelor's degree programs in electronics engineering or mechanical engineering are among the most widely available in colleges and universities and many offer concentrations in robotics. Electronics engineering programs teach you the fundamentals of electronics components and common electronic circuits. You'll learn how electronics are used in computing, radio communications, industrial control systems and power management applications.
Mechanical engineering programs teach you to apply concepts from physics, mathematics and materials science to create machinery used in transportation, manufacturing, communication and other uses. These programs may also cover electronic, hydraulic and pneumatic systems. You should look for programs approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Step 3: Complete an Internship
Take advantage of internships offered at engineering and robotics companies. You could arrange one yourself with smaller companies that may not have a high industry profile. An internship can provide you with work experience and help you network within the industry. Your internship might entail no more than observing work or you may be actively involved in a project.
Step 4: Find a Job as a Robotics Engineer
According to O*NET Online, approximately 158,000 people worked as robotics engineers in 2018 (www.onetonline.org). Most were employed in the government and technical services sectors. Between 2018 and 2028, this field is projected to provide about 11,700 job openings due to a combination of growth, retirement and turnover in the industry. O*NET Online reports the projected job growth is about as fast as the average at 4% to 6% for 2018 to 2028. The same source reported the median salary for robotics engineers in May 2018 was $96,980.
Step 5: Earn a Master's Degree
You can advance your career and earn a higher salary with a master's degree in robotics engineering. More schools have begun to offer master's programs that draw upon the mechanical, electrical and computer engineering concepts you learned at the undergraduate level to create and use intelligent mobile mechanical devices.
Your courses will explore topics such as control systems, sensors and navigation systems, robotic simulations, human-machine interaction and machine learning. Some programs require the completion of a capstone or research project.
What Are Some Alternative Careers?
If robotics isn't your thing, there are plenty of other options with a master's degree in engineering. You can take your talents and apply them to other branches of engineering, such as mechanical, computer, or industrial. Should you be interested in exposing other people to your passion and sharing your knowledge, you could also take what you have learned through a Ph.D. program and become a teacher at the university level.