Automation engineers are employed in the automotive, pharmaceutical, medical device, chemical, biochemical, aerospace, computer, textile, and other manufacturing sectors; in food processing and beverage/drinks manufacturing; and in the oil and gas, mining and metal extraction, renewable energy, shipping and distribution, and water and wastewater industries. They also work for government agencies and as educators at colleges and universities. Some automation engineers launch their own consulting firms.
Some people enter the field after earning a bachelor’s degree in automation, computer science, an engineering specialty, or a related field. In this scenario, they learn about job openings through contacts they made during internships and other experiential learning opportunities, by attending career fairs and networking events, by utilizing the resources of their school’s career service office, and by applying to companies that employ automation engineers.
Some people break into the field by working for several years in non-automation engineering or information technology positions. For example, an aspiring automation engineer might first obtain experience in mechanical engineering or in software development before transitioning to an automation engineering position. Others start out as automation technicians and combine work experience with classes or degrees in automation or a related field to prepare for a career as an engineer.
Automation engineers advance by receiving pay raises, performance bonuses, and promotions to team leader or other managerial positions. Some become “thought leaders” by writing articles or books about the field, giving presentations about industry trends at trade conferences, and speaking to the media about automation-related topics. Other engineers open their own consulting firms, while some become college educators.
Tips for Entry
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Attend the Automate Show conference (https://www.automateshow.com) to build your skills, learn about potential employers, and network.
Participate in the International Society of Automation’s Mentor Program (https://blog.isa.org/isa-mentor-program) to receive career guidance.