As an automation engineer, you'll be expected to design, program, simulate and test automated machinery and processes. You'll find opportunity in industries, including manufacturing or food processing, that rely heavily upon robots or machines. Here's what you need to know about launching your career and the steps that can lead you to a six-figure automation engineering career.
To begin a career as an automation engineer, you'll need a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical or electrical engineering. Classes that may help you in your career include robotics, statistics, fluid dynamics and databases. You'll learn much about the specifics of automation engineering on the job. As you gain traction in your career, consider post-graduate degrees to further specialize and increase your marketability.
Licensing & Certifications
While there is no formal licensing or certification required for an automation engineer, a control system engineer license or control systems technician certification can give you an edge when competing for the best jobs. As you advance your career, becoming a certified automation professional can help maximize your compensation potential. This certification is difficult to get, and is currently held by only about 400 automation engineers in the world. Attaining this certification will attract top employers and allow you to ask for top dollar in salary negotiations.
Additional Desirable Skills
Automation engineers can increase their chances of career success with these abilities:
- Understanding of computer programming and software development
- Ability to troubleshoot equipment problems and perform complex system tests
- Creative thinking skills
- Detail-oriented personality
- Excellent manual dexterity
- Ability to communicate well to other members of the development team
Employment and Salary Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing is increasingly moving toward automated processes to reduce workforce size and increase worker safety. This gives automation engineers good job prospects in the foreseeable future. According to a survey by Automation.com in 2012, the average annual salary for automation engineers was $103,910.