Career Profile: Robotics Engineer
Have you ever flown a remote-controlled airplane or used a robot to complete some kind of task? If you have, did you spend a lot of time trying to discover exactly how the machine worked? The expanding field of robotic engineering might be right for you.
If you’ve ever taken a robot apart, you know how complicated they can be. Engineers working in this field have to know about mathematics and science, and they should also be able to take machines apart and put them back together. One of the main areas where robotics engineers work is in manufacturing, where robots work with everything from car assembly to lifting heavy objects. Recently, the use of robotics has also been expanding to other fields, such as agriculture and mining.
Much of what robotics engineers do every day is to work with computers and other machines, but they also need some practical experience. For example, if they are designing new crop harvesters for farmers, they need to understand the different needs of each type of farm, such as a wheat field or an apple orchard. The skills they need for developing toy robots will be somewhat different from the techniques they need for designing machines for a nuclear power plant. Gaining experience in working with robots will help you decide what branch of robotic engineering you want to pursue.
You might already be able to design simple robots, but becoming a robotics engineer involves getting a formal education. Most people in this field have at least a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Engineering degree with courses in engineering, mathematics or the physical sciences.
In high school, you can already start to study some of these subjects, as well as high-level mathematics and advanced science. Getting into a robotics program in a university can be difficult, but keeping your grades high will help. Generally, students who do well in high school will find it easier to get into university than students who have struggled to pass their courses.
Once you get into the robotics program, your studies will include many different aspects of the work, including theory, design and development. Most programs allow students to specialize in mechanical, electrical or industrial engineering. You can start to focus on one of these branches if you already know what interests you, but it is also good to learn as much as possible about all types of engineering if you can.
Most degree programs are four years, and you can also continue on to a Master’s degree if you want to advance in the field. If you want to teach, you will most likely need to continue on to a PhD. level. Career prospects are limited since most robotics engineers stay in their jobs for many years.
The average annual salary for robotics engineers working in manufacturing and related fields is almost $68,500. For people who enjoy designing machines and working out difficult problems, the job of robotics engineer can be a good choice.