Be an Automation Engineer: Job Description, Salary & Qualifications

What does it take to become an automation engineer? Read on to learn about desired qualifications and skills, as well as potential salaries and job growth stats for the career. Schools offering Industrial Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Automation engineers are involved in researching, designing, developing and troubleshooting machines or systems that operate automatically. Critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills are very crucial to this profession. Check out the following table for more details.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Mechanical/electrical engineering
Key Skills Critical thinking, complex problem solving, judgment and decision-making, system analysis, adaptability and monitoring skills
Licensure Varies by state
Related Work Experience Required
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 7% (for all electrical and electronics engineers)*
Median Annual Salary (May 2017) $97,970 per year (for all electrical and electronics engineers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Automation Engineer Do?

According to the Automation Federation, the profession of automation includes everything from the creation to the implementation of techniques to improve, monitor and control production and delivery of products and services. Automation engineers typically design and maintain automation systems for industrial tasks. They are also required to manage their teams and documentation related to the machinery and its parts. Usual work sites include food processing and car manufacturing plants.

Do I Need a Degree?

Most automation engineers hold a bachelor's degree in electrical or mechanical engineering from an ABET (Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology)-accredited institution. Students from other engineering fields can also become automation engineers. Some engineers also hold a master's degree.

What Are the Training Requirements?

A considerable amount of related work experience is required to become an automation engineer. The engineers are, therefore, provided on-the-job training. Alternatively, engineers can also opt for vocational training. The training period varies from position to position and depends on the engineer's level of work-related skills and knowledge.

Do I Need to Be Licensed or Certified?

Most states require high-level engineers to acquire the Professional Engineering (PE) license. As automation engineers are required to manage their own projects along with other engineers, acquisition of the PE license is mandatory. The licensing requirements vary from state to state.

Although certification is optional, it is highly recommended. Certifications can improve one's chances to get a job or promotion.

What Are the Job Prospects?

According to the U.S. Labor of Statistics, the demand for automation engineers is likely to grow in concert with rapid technological innovations. The increasing innovations, especially in the sector of solar energy and communication technologies, will create various automation jobs in the production sector. The overall employment of electrical and electronics engineers is projected to grow at 7% from 2016-2026. In May 2017, the top 10% of electronics engineers earned more than $160,360 and the bottom 10% earned less than $64,030, per the BLS. For comparison, the top 10% of electrical engineers earned more than $150,340, while the bottom 10% earned less than $60,250.

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