The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are more than 170,100 robotics engineers working in the United States. Robotics engineers are employed in virtually every manufacturing industry. With the trend toward automation continuing—often via the use of robots—people trained in robotics can expect to find employment with almost all types of manufacturing companies in the future. Robotics professionals also work in professional, scientific, and technical service industries and for government agencies such as the Department of Defense and NASA.
A large number of robotics manufacturers are found in California, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, Texas, British Columbia, and Ontario, although companies exist in many other U.S. states and Canadian provinces.
In the past, most people entered robotics technician positions from positions as automotive workers, machinists, millwrights, computer repair technicians, and computer operators. Companies retrained them to troubleshoot and repair robots rather than hire new workers. Although this still occurs today, there are many more opportunities for formal education and training specifically in robotics engineering, and robotics manufacturers are more likely to hire graduates of robotics programs.
Graduates of two- and four-year programs may learn about available openings through their schools' career services offices. It may also be possible to learn about job openings through want ads in newspapers and trade magazines, through job fairs, and on employment Web sites.
In many cases, it will be necessary to research companies that manufacture or use robots and apply directly to them. Professional engineering and robotics associations may offer publications with classified ads, or other job search information.
Job opportunities may be good at small start-up companies or a start-up robotics unit of a large company. Many times these employers are willing to hire inexperienced workers as apprentices or assistants. Then, when their sales and production grow, these workers have the best chances for advancement.
Engineers may start as part of an engineering team and do relatively simple tasks under the supervision of a project manager or more experienced engineer. With experience and demonstrated competency, they can move into higher engineering positions. Engineers who demonstrate good interpersonal skills, leadership abilities, and technical expertise may become team leaders, project managers, or chief engineers. Engineers can also move into supervisory or management positions. Some engineers pursue a master's in business. These engineers are able to move into top management positions. Some engineers also develop specialties, such as artificial intelligence, and move into highly specialized engineering positions.
Tips for Entry
To learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers, read publications such as:
- Servo Magazine (https://www.servomagazine.com)
- Robot Magazine(http://www.botmag.com)
- Unmanned Systems (https://www.auvsi.org/unmanned-systems-magazine-1)
- Robotics Online Electronic Newsletter (https://www.robotics.org)
- IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine (https://www.ieee.org)
Participate in the National Society of Professional Engineers’ mentoring program (https://www.nspe.org/resources/career-center/mentoring-resources).
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Attend industry conferences to network and to interview for jobs.
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.