Robotics can be an exciting field for those who are passionate about technology. Robotics tech is being integrated into many different types of technological advances across various fields and in consumer goods.
If you’re thinking of pursuing careers in robotics, you likely have lots of questions, such as, What are the different fields in robotics? and What type of engineer programs robots? Below, you can learn all about robotics and begin planning your career pathway.
In This Article:
- What Do Robotics Engineers Do?
- Why Pursue a Career in Robotics?
- How Do Robotics Engineers Benefit People and Society?
- Top 10 Careers in Robotics
- Professional Development for All Types of Robotics
What Do Robotics Engineers Do?
Before you dive into career planning, it’s a good idea to do a little research about the various fields in robotics. What type of engineer programs robots? That would be a robotics engineer, who is responsible for designing, developing and testing robots and robotic devices. They are also responsible for maintaining their robotics technology. Robotics engineers work with both mechanical hardware, as well as the software that is responsible for operating the equipment.1
Robotics engineers can work in a range of industries, depending on the types of robotics they specialize in. Here’s a sampling of industries that typically hire these professionals:2
Why Pursue a Career in Robotics?
Careers in robotics can offer benefits to those who are technologically inclined and eager to learn. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why you might decide to earn a robotics-related degree.
Positive Effects of Robotics
If you have an interest in robotics and engineering and want a career that can allow you to embrace your creative nature, then robotics engineering could be your ideal path. If you’re passionate about contributing to advances in robotics technology, then careers in robotics could be right for you. You could potentially help improve society, such as by contributing to medical technology advances.
Versatility in Robotics
In robotics engineering, you can expect to have the opportunity to gain competencies that will help you develop an engineering mindset and potentially prepare you for a broad range of engineering careers. As you work toward a career in this field, you’ll be introduced to everything from chemistry and biology to math and physics. Some of the robotics-specific skills that you may learn include feedback control, sensors and signal conditioning, computer programming and computer interfacing.
Broadened Horizons With Technology
Choosing to pursue a career as a robotics engineer can prepare you to bring your knowledge of computer-aided engineering to many sectors. Robotics engineers often work in industries that involve the design, creation and implementation of automated systems, and some of the career opportunities in this field are found in industrial engineering and biotechnology, manufacturing and nuclear engineering.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track salary data for robotics engineers specifically, but these professionals fall under the general category of mechanical engineers. As of May 2022, mechanical engineers have a median annual salary of $96,310, according to the BLS.3
How Do Robotics Engineers Benefit People and Society?
If you’d like to find a career that would enable you to make a positive difference in the world, robotics engineering could be the right choice for you. Here’s a look at some of the ways that robotics engineers make positive contributions to people and society as a whole:
Robotics and Future Development
Robotics engineers design robotic systems to help people and society in many ways, including systems implemented in autonomous vehicles and advanced sensing and computer vision, to name a few. For example, robotics systems can be used to create everything from minimally invasive surgical technology to devices capable of exploring distant planets.
Improve Environmental Remediation
The applications for robotics engineering are numerous, and professionals in this field can develop systems and robots capable of benefiting the environment. An example of this includes the programming of environmental cleanup applications that can minimize human exposure to hazardous materials or improve the speed and quality of cleanup operations. Furthermore, robotics engineers can design robotics applications for the manufacturing of green products, such as solar panels or wind turbines, which can help eliminate waste or reduce costs.
Enhance Operational Performance
Robotics engineers can also improve the function of existing manufacturing technologies through the design of automated robotics systems. These applications can be used to increase production precision or volume in high-output operations, such as automated ribonucleic acid analysis or the moving, sorting and stacking of production materials.
Robotics engineers help people in many respects, one of which is through the development of medical technology systems for robotic surgery. Robotics in healthcare uses advanced technology to perform minimally invasive procedures. For patients, this can mean less pain, shorter hospital stays and a faster return to their normal activities.
Today, robotics technology facilitates the cleanup of nuclear sites where humans cannot survive. Small drones equipped with measuring tools, such as accelerometers, air pressure sensors and gyrometers can be used to investigate contaminated areas and send back maps that identify locations with radioactive material. By designing systems for devices like these, robotics engineers can help restore the environment and simultaneously protect people from exposure to hazardous materials.
Robotics engineers can do their part to protect the planet. Through the design or programming of robotics applications, these professionals can help green product manufacturers streamline the production process, cut back on waste or reduce fabrication costs. Designing recycling robots, energy-efficient personal mobility devices and autonomous vehicles are a few more examples of how robotics engineers can assist in the production of green products.
Robotics in Daily Life
What importance does robotics serve in everyday life? While it is still relatively up-and-coming, programs are being developed for robotic assistance in hospitals, schools and even restaurants. This is beneficial in aiding service through all different kinds of outlets.
Robots have the ability to perform tasks with a certain accuracy that people might not always have. If you look carefully, you may notice the inclusion of certain robotic services in places near you.
Top 10 Careers in Robotics
There is an incredibly diverse range of careers in robotics that you might consider pursuing. Here’s a look at a few of them:
1. Robotics Engineers
Robotics engineers typically have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many also have a master’s degree. After a new robotics engineer gains experience, they may qualify to pursue licensure.4 Robotics engineers may be responsible for designing new robotics equipment or planning improvements to existing equipment. In addition, robotics engineers may do any of the following:
- Conduct research regarding the feasibility and design of new robotics equipment
- Install new robotics systems and test them to ensure proper function
- Supervise robotics technicians and operators and review testing data and repairs
- Debug problems detected within the robotics system
- Integrate robots with peripheral equipment
Communication, including active listening, is a crucial skill for robotics engineers. These professionals may be responsible for explaining ideas and robotics equipment to executives, some of whom may have little technical knowledge. Creativity and problem-solving skills are also assets.4
2. Automation Engineer
Automated machinery is used in a range of industries, including automotive and manufacturing. Automation engineers are responsible for designing, developing and testing automated machines and devices. They also work to streamline automated processes.
3. Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers are responsible for designing, developing and testing aircraft, satellites, spacecraft and missiles. Some aerospace engineers choose to specialize in robotics. For example, they might design autonomous drones or robotic devices that are used in aerospace technology.
4. Controls Engineer
A controls engineer is responsible for designing and developing instrumentation and control systems. They focus on looking for ways of improving operational efficiency. Controls engineers must also troubleshoot any problems that develop with their control systems and instrumentation.
5. Robotics Technicians
Robotics technicians may perform a wide range of tasks, from the building and set-up of robotic equipment to disassembly. Technicians may perform routine maintenance on robots. They are often responsible for troubleshooting problems and fixing errors to keep the machinery running properly. Technicians may also perform the following tasks:
- Installing robotics systems
- Teaching robots to perform new tasks via computer code
- Testing new robotics equipment
- Coordinating with customers to ensure the proper function of robotics equipment
- Maintaining system documentation (technical writing)
In addition, robotics technicians may work closely with robotics engineers, such as by assisting in the design or construction of new systems and incorporating peripheral systems.
6. Robotics Operator
Some people break into the robotics field as entry-level operators. Robotics operators are responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of computer-controlled equipment.
Robotics operators may work in a range of industries. Depending on the specific job, robotics operators may also be responsible for troubleshooting problems that arise, performing repairs and offering feedback to engineers on robotic designs.
7. CAD Designer
If you’d rather work primarily with blueprints, rather than machinery, then you might consider becoming a computer-aided design (CAD) designer. These experts use sophisticated CAD software to create designs for machinery.
8. Hardware Engineer
Like software engineers, hardware engineers could also choose to specialize in robotics. They develop, implement, test and maintain robotics hardware that is used in a wide range of industries — from healthcare to telecommunications.
9. Software Engineer
If your talents predominantly lie in software, rather than hardware, you might consider becoming a software engineer who specializes in robotics. In robotics, software engineers design software and direct programmers to write code that will control robotic equipment and devices.
10. UI/UX Designer
A user interface/user experience designer who specializes in robotics is responsible for designing the interface that enables people to use robots. A UI/UX designer must ensure that the interface is intuitive and fairly easy to use, while meeting all the functionality needs of the users.
Professional Development for All Types of Robotics
No matter which careers in robotics interest you, you should be aware that they require a lifelong commitment to continual learning. Robotics engineers should strive to stay on top of the latest developments so that they can improve the quality of their work. Getting better at robotics can entail:
- Earning a robotics-related degree
- Completing an internship experience
- Completing on-the-job training programs
- Pursuing advanced training and professional certifications or certificates
- Attending and perhaps presenting your own work at professional conferences
If you have your sights set on a career in robotics, you can begin preparing for it at Grand Canyon University. The Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with an Emphasis in Robotics degree program features a STEM curriculum designed to help you prepare for the technological needs of the 21st century. Fill out the form on this page to learn more.
1 Lombardi, P. (2023, June 30). How to become a robotics engineer (with skills and careers). Indeed. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
2 Coursera. (2023, June 16). 2023 guide to a robotics engineering career. Coursera. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
3 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Mechanical Engineers as of August 2023, retrieved on Aug. 23, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as Mechanical Engineers. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.
4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, February 6). How to become a mechanical engineer. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
Approved by the assistant dean of the College of Engineering and Technology on Sept. 14, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.