Overview | Specific Work Activities | Common Work Activities | Related Occupations | Skills and Abilities | Working Conditions | Physical Demands | Knowledge | Interests | Wages | Current Employment | Outlook | Helpful High School Courses | Preparation | Related Educational Programs | Hiring Practices | Licensing/Certification/Designation/Registration | Advancement Opportunities | Additional Sources of Information | Back to Green Careers
At a Glance
- Design and test robotic parts and systems
- Most have a master's degree
- Have excellent math, science, physics, and computing skills
- Sit for long periods of time
- Are creative
- Earn $82,920 per year (Hawaii median)
Robotics engineers research, design, develop, and test robotic applications.
Robots and robotic systems come in many shapes and sizes. Honda’s humanoid ASIMO robot can walk, bend, dance, lift, and even walk up and down stairs. Large robotics systems can assemble cars. Other robotic systems can analyze DNA in a medical laboratory. Some surgeries can even be performed remotely by a doctor using a robotic arm.
The field of robotics engineering is complex. As a result, robotics engineers perform a lot of research in their job. They research different ideas and designs and test them on robotic prototypes. They analyze different functions and make adjustments. Depending on the field they work in, engineers may study human physiology to mimic human movement. Or, they may study automotive systems to make a robotic vehicle. Robotics engineers must be very good at computer science, as much of their design and research is through computer programming. They must be able to program a robot, debug the program, and reprogram the robot or robotic tool to do something different.
Because this field is constantly changing, robotics engineers must study and read to keep up their knowledge and skills. This occupation has a bright future in the emerging green economy, especially in the manufacturing and research industries. Robotics engineers can help develop greener manufacturing processes.
Specific Work Activities
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to robotics engineers.
- Build, configure, and test robots.
- Design robotic systems such as automatic vehicle control, vehicles that run by themselves, and computer visions. Design systems such as advanced displays, advanced sensing, and robotic platforms.
- Design software to control robotic systems for applications such as military defense and manufacturing.
- Design automated robotic systems to increase production and precision in biomedical and manufacturing settings.
- Analyze and evaluate robotic systems or prototypes.
- Analyze and survey laboratory robotics.
- Conduct research into the design, operation, or performance of robotic parts and systems. These include rovers, multiple mobile robots, robots that can be reconfigured, and robots that can interact with humans.
- Conduct research on robotic technology to create new robotic systems or system capabilities.
- Debug robotics programs.
- Design tools to be used as part of the robot’s “arm.”
Common Work Activities
Robotics engineers perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Use computers.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Provide information or drawings about devices, equipment, or structures.
- Analyze data or information.
- Process information.
- Think creatively.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Estimate sizes, quantities, time, cost, or materials needed.
- Control machines and processes.
- Repair and maintain electronic equipment.
- Repair and maintain mechanical equipment.
- Inspect equipment, structures, or materials.
- Coordinate the work and activities of others.
- Develop and build teams.
- Provide advice and consultation to others.
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
- Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- Industrial Engineers
- Manufacturing Engineers
- Mechanical Engineers
Hawaii Career Pathways:
- Industrial & Engineering Technology
Related O*NET Specialties:
Skills and Abilities
Robotics engineers need to:
- Read and understand work-related materials.
- Express ideas clearly when speaking or writing.
- Listen to others, understand, and ask questions.
- Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.
- Analyze ideas and use logic to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
- Combine several pieces of information and draw conclusions.
- Develop rules or follow guidelines for arranging items.
- Use reasoning to discover answers to problems.
- Identify problems and review information. Develop, review, and apply solutions.
- Judge the costs and benefits of a possible action.
- Think of new ideas or original and creative ways to solve problems.
- Determine how a system should work. Study how changes in conditions affect outcomes.
- Understand new information or materials by studying and working with them.
- Concentrate and not be distracted while performing a task.
- Identify ways to measure and improve system performance.
- Remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
Use Math and Science
- Use math and science skills to solve problems.
- Add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly and correctly.
Manage Oneself, People, Time, and Things
- Check how well one is learning or doing something.
- Manage the time of self and others.
- Motivate, develop, and direct people as they work.
Work with People
- Be aware of others’ reactions and change behavior in relation to them.
- Use several methods to learn or teach others new things.
- Persuade others to approach things differently.
Work with Things
- Test and inspect products, services, or processes. Evaluate quality or performance.
- Watch gauges, dials, and output to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Determine the tools and equipment needed to do a job.
- Determine the causes of technical problems and find solutions for them.
- Maintain equipment on a routine basis. Determine when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
- Repair machines or systems.
- Design equipment and technology to meet user needs.
- Analyze needs and requirements when designing products.
- Write computer programs.
- Operate and control equipment.
Perceive and Visualize
- Imagine how something will look if it is moved around or its parts are rearranged.
- Identify a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in distracting material.
- Quickly and accurately compare letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns.
In a typical work setting, robotics engineers:
- Are significantly responsible for work outcomes and the work done by others.
- Have a medium level of social interaction. They spend time working with other engineers and technologists, but also spend time alone analyzing data.
- Are somewhat responsible for the health and safety of others.
- Are occasionally placed in conflict situations.
- Communicate mostly by e-mail, telephone, or in-person discussions. They also write letters and memos, but less often.
- Often work as part of a project team.
- Regulary wear safety attire.
- Usually work indoors.
- Are sometimes exposed to loud or distracting sounds or noise levels.
- Are occasionally exposed to hazardous equipment.
- May share lab or office space with others.
- Must be extremely accurate when performing the job. Errors significantly alter how a robotic device works.
- Rarely consult a supervisor before making a decisions or setting tasks and goals.
- Meet strict weekly and monthly deadlines. This makes the work atmosphere somewhat competitive.
- Regularly make decisions that strongly impact coworkers and their company.
- Repeat the same mental and physical tasks.
- Sometimes must match the pace of work to the speed of equipment.
- Generally have a set schedule each week.
- Usually work 40 hours a week. However, overtime is common, especially when nearing project deadlines.
Robotics engineers frequently:
- Use their hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- Sit for long periods of time.
It is important for robotics engineersto be able to:
- See details of objects whether they are nearby or far away.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
It is not as important, but still necessary, for robotics engineersto be able to:
- Determine the distance between objects.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Use one or two hands to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
- Adjust body movements or equipment controls to keep pace with speed changes of moving objects.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- React quickly using hands, fingers, or feet.
- Choose quickly and correctly among various movements when responding to different signals.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- Make fast, repeated movements of fingers, hands, and wrists.
- While looking forward, see objects or movements that are off to the side.
- See objects in very bright or glaring light.
- Bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
Robotics engineers need knowledge in the following areas:
- Engineering and Technology: Knowledge of how to build machines, buildings, and other things. Also includes knowledge of how to use computers, machines, and tools to do work more usefully.
- Computers and Electronics: Knowledge of computer hardware and software.
- Design: Knowledge of making and using plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Mechanical: Knowledge of designing, using, and repairing machines and tools.
- Mathematics: Knowledge of the rules and uses of numbers. Areas of knowledge include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and statistics.
- Production and Processing: Knowledge of how products are made and supplied.
- Physics: Knowledge of the features and rules of matter and energy. Areas of knowledge include air, water, light, heat, weather, and other natural events.
- English Language: Knowledge of the meaning, spelling, and use of the English language.
- Administration and Management: Knowledge of managing the operations of a business, company, or group.
- Education and Training: Knowledge of teaching and the methods involved in learning and instruction.
- Telecommunications: Knowledge of the equipment that is used to send messages as electronic impulses. Examples include radio, television, telegraph, and cable.
- Public Safety and Security: Knowledge of protecting people, data, and property.
- Customer and Personal Service: Knowledge of providing special services to customers based on their needs.
Robotics engineers are people who tend to:
- Consider good working conditions important. They like jobs offering steady employment and good pay. They want employment that fits their individual work style. They may prefer doing a variety of tasks, working alone, or being busy all the time.
- Consider independence important. They like to make decisions and try out ideas on their own. They prefer jobs where they can plan their work with little supervision.
- Consider achievement important. They like to see the results of their work and to use their strongest abilities. They like to get a feeling of accomplishment from their work.
- Consider recognition important. They like to work in jobs which have opportunities for them to advance, be recognized for their work, and direct and instruct others. They usually prefer jobs in which they are looked up to by others.
- Consider support from their employer important. They like to be treated fairly and have supervisors who will back them up. They prefer jobs where they are trained well.
- Have investigative interests. They like work activities that have to do with ideas and thinking. They like to search for facts and figure out solutions to problems mentally.
- Have realistic interests. They like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like to work with plants, animals, and physical materials such as wood, tools, and machinery. They often prefer to work outside.
- Have conventional interests. They like work activities that follow set procedures, routines, and standards. They like to work with data and detail. They prefer working where there is a clear line of authority to follow.
Occupational Interest Codes:
Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The engineer's level of training, experience, and responsibility also affect wages.
Robotics engineers who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan.
Specific information about the number of robotics engineersin Hawaii and nationally is not available.
- Aerospace product and parts manufacturers
- Engineering firms
- Federal government agencies
- Motor vehicle parts manufacturers
- Navigational and control equipment manufacturers
In Hawaii, outlook information is not available specifically for robotics engineers. They are part of a larger group of "engineers, all other." Little change in employment is expected for workers in this group through 2018.
Nationally, employment of workers in this group is expected to grow slower than average through the year 2018.
Much of the job growth for robotics engineers will be due to the growing green sector of the economy, especially in the manufacturing and research industries. Robotics engineers will be needed to help develop greener manufacturing processes. Opportunities will be best for engineers with strong mechanical, computing, and communication skills.
Job openings will occur each year as workers leave this occupation or retire.
The table below provides information about the number of workers in this occupation in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.
Helpful High School Courses
In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from our state's graduation requirements. Click here for public school graduation requirements for students graduating in 2011 or 2012. Click here for public school graduation requirements for students graduating in 2013 or later. If you attend a private school, check with your school counselor for graduation requirements. Robotics engineers use math and science frequently. Try to take math classes through Trigonometry and science classes through Physics.
You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.
Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this occupation include:
- Blueprint Reading
- Computer Applications
- Computer Science
- Introduction to Mechanics
The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.
You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.
Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Click here for examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.
To work as a remote sensing technologist, you must:
- have a high school diploma or GED;
- have a bachelor's degree in engineering;
- have a graduate degree in robotics or a related field;
- be curious and detail-oriented;
- have strong analytical, math, and computer science skills; and
- be creative.
Education after high school
Students begin preparing for this field by earning a bachelor's degree in engineering. There are very few robotics engineering bachelor’s programs. However, the field of robotics is growing and preparation can also be gained through computer science, electronic engineering, and physics degree programs. Many four-year colleges and universities offer these programs of study. You may need between four and five years to complete this program.
Most workers in this occupation have some kind of advanced degree. Master’s and Ph.D. programs in engineering, artificial intelligence, and computer science are all good preparation for this field. With advanced degrees, robotics engineers can work in labs as lead engineers on projects. They can also teach at universities.
Consider participating in an internship with an engineering firm while you are in college. An internship offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.
Because this job is very specialized and involves several disciplines, on-the-job training may vary by employer and project.
Related Educational Programs:
- Computer and Information Sciences
- Electrical/Electronics Technologies
- Engineering Technologies
Most employers require that robotics engineers have at least a bachelor's degree in engineering. Due to this occupation's complexity, many employers require a master's degree or even a doctorate. Employers also look for people with strong communication, computer, and mechanical skills. Certification or licensing may also be required.
Licensing / Certification / Designation / Registration