Automation Engineer: The Complete Career Guide

Automation engineers work in manufacturing units of various industries where their main work is to test and improve the process of manufacturing by developing software and machines which can save our cost and at the same time improve productivity. Also after developing the software, their main task is to make sure that manufacturing tasks are completed on a timely basis. Let’s learn about ‘Automation Engineer’.

Automation Engineer: The Complete Career Guide

Automation Engineer: The Complete Career Guide

Earlier the professional working in this field had more number of tasks in his hand but currently due to:

  • The rapid development of technology and 
  • A boom of innovation

The machines are been developed at such a fast pace which has automated almost every task that is taking place in a manufacturing unit.

Therefore the demand for personnel has decreased very quickly because there are robots working continuously the whole day just by charging them for a few hours. Whether be it:

  • Transportation of goods
  • Placing the goods in the rack
  • Changing the position from one place to another 

A lot more tasks are just performed automatically by the robots once the command is feed into their system. Also when we talk about robots, there has been innovation where there is no need to program the robot again and again for each different task, they can be programmed once and then controlled.

For carrying out these tasks there is a need for experts and specialists that can understand programming and software development. You must have a brief knowledge about robotics if you want to get placed in today’s time. This is because the robots come with a lot of issues also.

  • These are programming issues, there are many damages that occur due to improper handling of robots.
  • These issues, therefore, need to be first identified and then solved.
  • Troubleshooting a problem is much more important than a programing language issue.

These programming languages can be learned at schools, colleges and one can become a specialist in this field if he or she acquires relevant and important information. Some of them are python, test scripts, and plc.

Nowadays the demand for automation engineers have increased rapidly because every industry wants to be automated so that they can reduce their costs, earlier the demand was not much, only the IT sector had a major demand, but now the scenario has changed, even the food industry is trying to automate itself. Almost all industries which are product based and manufacturing process is involved, they all are trying to become automated and all the tasks are been carried out by robots only.

Where Do Automation Engineers Get Placed The Most?

Wherever the mass production process is involved, there the automation engineers are placed more. As we know for a fact that robots can never replace humans, they require programming and feeding of information to perform the task.

The difference between earlier jobs and current jobs of the same profession is the understanding of technology. Today’s engineers need to have a brief knowledge about technology, coding, and programming because this is the current demand in the market.

Earlier the work was different, automation engineers only tested the machines, their work but most of the tasks were done by labor. Transportation of goods, delivery of goods, changing the position, or carrying goods from one place to another was the job of labor. The demand for labor was very high.

Currently, the scenario is that jobs of labor are replaced by robots, and engineers are required only to program and command the robots. The demand has shifted, also we can say that the demand has increased but for those who have sound knowledge in technology. As said above that earlier only one industry- the IT and computer sector dealt with robotics and AI, but now any industry- apparel, footwear, electronics, furniture, food, and beverage, etc. all industries is becoming automated. Also, the jobs and required skills to be built can be seen and learned online. There are online job postings done by companies that demand certain necessary skills, without which you cannot apply. The best way is to learn those skills as soon as possible and upgrade yourself so that you stay relevant in the market.

Demand In The Industry

There is a huge demand for automation engineers in the industry. This is because more and more companies are trying to become automated in the category of manufacturing therefore there are more openings for this profession.

The difference is that the job profile has changed over time and the required skill set has evolved. Earlier the job profile was different, you were only required to check the proper functioning of the machines and that they give maximum output. It required a lot of labor to carry out the work.

Now the scenario has changed, the job profile has changed, the demand for labor has decreased and the same labor work is now done by robots that run on command and instructions given by us. So now the automation engineers have to learn coding, software development, and programming languages because now they have to give instructions to robots in their language and as we know that robots can never replace humans so they cannot work on their own, they need instructions.

All the product-based companies that have a large-scale manufacturing unit are now moving towards automation. This has many benefits:

  • Cost-effective: It is cost-effective because the robots run on electricity, they need to be charged only from time to time so there is a saving of cost that was initially paid to labor. A large chunk of the cost is saved when we shift from labor to robots.
  • Time saver: The machines are able to complete the work in lesser time as compared to labor, they do not need frequent breaks. The machines can work the almost whole day.
  • Increased efficiency: When the work is completed at a faster pace in lesser time and cost, the efficiency will definitely increase. Not only work is completed in less time but also more work can be completed in the same period of time.

Technical And Soft Skills Required In The Profession Of Automation Engineer

There are both technical and non-technical i.e. soft skills required for this field of career.

Technical Skills Include:

Computer programming and software development

This includes learning of few computer languages like python, java, SQL. Basically, the idea is to understand the working of systems and programs so that we can accordingly input the instructions or alter the instructions to command a machine to do something. This learning of language is very important so that apart from providing input to the machine we can also troubleshoot and solve a problem if one arises. If we have the knowledge of working with the systems, we can also develop a new system that can work much efficiently than the previous one in terms of time and cost.

Troubleshooting ability

Old programs and systems consist of their own problems and lags. It is required to troubleshoot those problems and lags but what is more important is that we need to develop new systems and new commands that can solve those lags while bringing a change in the whole sector. For troubleshooting the problem, it is necessary to understand the problem, how that problem occurs and why that problem occurs.

Coding and development

The in-depth knowledge of different methodologies can help engineers make well-informed decisions. Many times the problems occur that require a change in the system that can be solved with coding and programming only. Therefore to solve that problem coders either repair the framework or develop a new framework so that the ongoing process does not stop or gets hampered.

Data management

There is a huge amount of data that comes to a company, this data needs to be stored and managed so that we can use it to our advantage. This data is converted and transformed and a report is prepared so that suitable action can be taken upon that. This data is useful in improving the accuracy, developing a program, increasing the speed. This data management is the key tool if you want to make your company successful because in today’s era companies run and operate fully on data.

Soft Skills Include

Communication skills

We know that automation engineers do not work alone in an organization, there is a whole team that provides consent and after which the action is taken upon an idea. You talk and explain your ideas and work to a lot of people for implementation therefore you must have good communication skills to interact with people. Also ahead of you are many professionals that are keeping the record of your data and maintaining the documents, so it is very necessary to be a people person and develop your interpersonal skills.

Creative thinking and paying attention to details

When a system is designed, there are many processes that are managed. While developing different processes there are different expectations and details that are paid attention to. You need to pay attention to each and every detail and not only while developing. The bugs even arise after the development. You need to think outside the box while you are making a project and be ready for the future. There is hackers present that intrude into the privacy and destroy the system so you have to keep finding the bug and fix them to protect the system.

Problem-solving skills

There are many complex systems developed and maintained by the developers but then too there are some invaders that attack your system. You need to be ready to solve the problems every time. Also, the companies keep their systems on alert so that a bug can be solved as soon as it arrives. Also, the companies reward such individuals who identify the bugs in their system and tell the company about them. Problems can only be solved if a person is flexible and adaptable which means that you need to change and evolve with time. Firstly analyze the problem, look out for solutions, and then solve the problem. This is a continuous process because bugs can arrive and attack the system anytime so you need to be always aware.

Teamwork and coordination

In a work environment, there are many people working so you need to very cooperative in order to work peacefully. When the goals are set and people are working towards the goals, all doing their own part of work, in that case, there are many points that some people favor and some do not. But settling the dispute calmly is called coordination. If you are not able to work with a team or you are not a people person then first you must develop that skill before entering the field. Not only you but there are many people of many teams working together so everyone has their own point of view so you must accept that.

How To Become Automation Engineer?

Educational Requirements

  • Degree program in automation, mechanical or electrical engineering- bachelor or master’s degree.
  • Courses in specialized fields like robotics, databases, computer and software programming.
  • Getting licensed from an automation engineer who can give you a brief understanding of the processes. Generally, these engineers keep their assistants and further on provide these assistants certificates which can help them in their future.
  • Working as a trainee or an intern in an organization so that you can get an overview of the job and skills required. The certificate or recommendation from that organization will add up to your experience and will be proof of your skills.

Some certificates are:

  • Control system engineer
  • Certified Automation Professional
  • Control Systems Technician

These certificates will definitely help you in your career, apart from the only certificate, you also get proper required training in this course. After you have gathered certificates and required knowledge and experience you can create your own portfolio describing your skillsets and capabilities.

Non-Educational Requirements

  • Good personality: Characteristics and behavior in a person that is compelling and convincing. A good personality means having the capability of getting the work done from others, working peacefully with each other while building trust and understanding and a sense of comfort so that the communication happens freely.
  • Analyzing skills: The only goal of developing analytical skills is to identify the requirements and fulfill those requirements, whatever the requirement may be whether it is developing a new system or repairing and finding bugs in the system.
  • Time management skills: Here you need to prioritize the task and set the goals to achieve them. this is because there are multiple tasks in an organization that need to be fulfilled and completed on time so that the work is not delayed, though there are many people working in different areas and doing their own job. Each task has a time limit within which the work should be done.

What Are The Salary Packages?

Before discussing the salary packages it is important to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the job and what would be your duties as an automation engineer.

  • Automate the manufacturing task for less need of manpower.
  • Validate the functioning of the software and developed system.
  • Test designing and writing scripts.
  • Installing and verifying the protocols.
  • Discussing the results and implementing the suggested changes.

The average pay package of an automation engineer ranges from $80000 to $150000 yearly. However, the starting salary is different and lower than this but gradually after the probation period and as you develop your own trust in the company, this pay increases.

One other factor which comes into play is the experience. More experience you gather, more pay package you can get. As early as you get well versed with the company and understand its working and requirements, you are able to contribute to a greater extent.

There are many experienced employees with the company, they continue to learn new skills and adapting to the market. This is the best practice to stay relevant in the market because earlier the job profile was different and now it is different. As it is rightly said that change is the only constant so you need to continuously acquire new skills and build your expertise.

You can have a look at offered salaries on the internet. There are various companies that have posted online job openings and are looking for hiring students online so that they can get to a larger audience overall. Basically, the companies post very competitive salaries so you can at least get an idea of what the employees working in this profession are getting paid.

However, there are different amounts offered in different regions for the same job profile. We are talking about the US. The number given above is the average salary in the United States. Plus there are a various number of options of industries to work in, you can work in an industry where you want to.

  • The salary also depends on the specialization. If you are specialized in something like for example robotics, then the average salary you get is around $90000.
  • Likewise, if you are a computer programmer in the US then the average salary is around $100000.
  • You can also specialize in software development. The average salary range around $110000.

You saw 3 examples of salaries in the United States. You can have an idea from this how much you can earn in this field

Frequently Asked Questions

1.) How to start your career as an automation engineer?

– First complete your graduation or post-graduation. The degree certificate will open many doors for you because now you can apply for many jobs at many places.

– After completing your studies, you can become an assistant under some individual who is already working in the same industry.

– Apart from that you can also pursue a specific course to specialize in or become an expert

– Now lookout for jobs and opportunities in the market on the basis of your education and experience.

– These experience certificates will help you in finding a suitable job.

– The specialization will also help you in getting placed if you are passionate about a specific field.

2.) What is the current market demand for this career?

If we talk about the current time, the demand is high and is growing over time. This is because this field is entering into all the industries.

Also, there are many benefits of working in this field. The robots are cost-effective, time savers, and efficient.

Seeing all these benefits the demand for this career is growing rapidly and also major changes are occurring in this field. The job profile as you read is changing. This is due to rapid change in technology and the boom of innovation that is coming day by day. There are advancements made every day, also there are bugs that attack the system so those bugs need to be solved and the system needs to be protected from intruders. Therefore automation engineers are required highly.

3.) What is automation testing?

Testing here means checking scripts and codes written and automation means anything which reduces human effort. So when the system automatically checks whether the script or code written is working or not, it is called automation testing.

Through this method, we do not need to manually check again and again whether our code is working or not.

4.) Can we learn the subject matter, gain knowledge about a particular niche and apply for the job?

You can gain knowledge about your favorite niche side by side while continuing to pursue your degree. Having a degree opens many doors and not only one. You can apply for many jobs from your degree and you will also expand your network once you learn with brilliant minds.

Pursuing a degree while gaining knowledge side by side will keep you ahead of others so you can follow this plan.

Automation Engineer: The Complete Career Guide

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