The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 14,600 robotics technicians employed in the United States. They work 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, both at the technician and engineer levels.
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.
After several years on the job, robotics technicians who have demonstrated their ability to handle more responsibility may be assigned some supervisory work or, more likely, will train new technicians. Experienced technicians and engineers may teach courses at their workplace or find teaching opportunities at a local school or community college.
Other routes for advancement include becoming a sales representative for a robotics manufacturing or design firm or working as an independent contractor for companies that use or manufacture robots.
With additional training and education, such as a bachelor's degree, technicians can become eligible for positions as robotics engineers.
To learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers, read publications such as:
Get a part-time or summer job in a company that manufactures or produces robotics or robotic devices. Ask your school's career services office for help with the job search.
Search for robotics technician job listings on these Web sites:
Conduct an informational interview with a robotics technician to learn more about their work and how they got started in their career.
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.