Whether they’re nestled atop an X-wing, sending themselves back in time to stop the birth of John Connor, or merely dusting the Jetson’s glass-domed home, the concept of robots as friends, enemies, and helpers has fascinated humans for well over a hundred years.
Today, robots are no longer a thing of fantastical speculation but integral parts of businesses around the world. Robots scan barcodes, greet customers, and even build automobiles. A wide variety of human jobs make it all possible.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the field of robotics, investigate whether the robots are coming for your job, and explore five careers in robotics worth considering. At the end, you’ll also find a suggested online course to help you start exploring robotics today.
Robotics is an interdisciplinary subfield of engineering and computer science focused on creating real-world machines (known as “robots”) capable of performing tasks that were historically only possible for humans, such as assembling products or packing goods. Typically, robots are best suited to perform tasks that are repetitive, extremely precise, or, occasionally, too dangerous for humans to do safely.
Robotics is a fast-growing industry. According to a study by Zion Market Research, for example, the industrial robotics market is projected to reach approximately $81.4 billion by 2028, a significant increase from its $41.7 billion valuation in 2021 . The study notes that the adoption of smart production systems, increased research and development, and the fast-paced adoption of robots are just some factors that have contributed to overall market growth.
Perhaps the most commonly asked question about robots is whether they’ll make our jobs obsolete in the future. The answer is a mix of both yes and no.
The jobs most susceptible to automation involve repetitive tasks, such as assembling equipment, sorting information or documents, and performing routine processes like accounting. The jobs that are less likely to be automated, inversely, involve more complex tasks that are not easily automated, such as designing novel products, engineering new solutions, and crafting unique digital marketing campaigns.
While automation will make some jobs obsolete, it will also create new work opportunities. According to research conducted by the World Economic Forum, for example, 85 million jobs are projected to be displaced by automation by 2025. However, the report notes that 97 million jobs are expected to be created in new and emerging industries like AI and product development .
Robots capable of performing complex real-world tasks may only have just become possible, but humanity has been dreaming up human-like machines for centuries.
Around 350 BCE, Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum designed and built a mechanical bird capable of flapping its wings and flying hundreds of meters in the air. In about 1495, consummate Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci designed and created a mechanical knight after reasoning that he could apply the principles of human motion to a machine.
Robotics is a fast-growing field that encompasses a wide range of different positions. Here are five jobs to consider pursuing if you’ve been dreaming of electric sheep:
Robotics engineers design, build, maintain, and repair robots and the applications that run them. Combining elements of mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science, robotics engineers focus on all aspects of creating robots, from conducting research to actually building robots and monitoring their performance in the real world.
According to Glassdoor, robotics engineers earn an average base salary of $85,983 with an estimated $14,057 additional pay in the form of bonuses, tips, profit sharing, or commission annually . Typically, employers require applicants to possess a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a related field to be considered for a position.
Robotics technicians install, maintain, train, and repair robots and other automated systems for businesses. In their daily work, robotics technicians may do everything from setting up a robot to work in a factory to troubleshooting system errors and training the robot to perform specific tasks as needed.
According to Glassdoor, robotics technicians earn an average base salary of $47,093 with an estimated $2,697 additional pay in the form of bonuses, tips, profit sharing, or commission annually . Employers typically require applicants to possess at least an associate degree in robot technology or a related major.
Software engineers design, build, and troubleshoot the software on which robots operate. Using their knowledge of mathematics and programming languages like Python, software engineers create applications that allow robots to perform tasks in the real world, whether they’re welding exhaust pipes or simply scanning barcodes.
According to Glassdoor, software engineers earn an average base salary of $90,383 with an estimated $15,573 additional pay annually . Employers typically require applicants to possess at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, but some positions may prefer applicants with more advanced degrees.
Robot operators are responsible for operating robots in the real world, particularly in industrial settings where many of them are used for manufacturing. In their daily work, robot operators do everything from setting up equipment to actually operating robots and programming them to perform specified tasks.
According to Glassdoor, robot operators earn an average base salary of $41,794 with an estimated $2,672 additional pay annually . Employers typically require that applicants possess at least a high school diploma or GED, but some may prefer applicants with an associate or bachelor’s degree.
AI engineers specialize in creating programs that use AI and machine learning techniques to help robots learn autonomously. In robotics, AI engineers are responsible for creating programs that allow robots to make decisions and interact with the external world through computer vision.
According to Glassdoor, AI engineers earn an average base salary of $104,993 with an estimated $22,061 additional pay annually . Typically, employers require applicants to possess at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related subject, but some may prefer applicants with more advanced related degrees.
Robots are no longer a far-off dream found only in science fiction but a real career path many are already pursuing. If you’re intrigued by the prospect of either designing robots or simply installing them, then you might consider taking a cost-effective, online course on Coursera today.
Northwestern’s Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control Specialization gives an overview of the most important concepts in modern robotics, including kinematics, dynamics, motion planning, and control of mobile robots and robot arms.
The most important concepts in modern robotics. A study of the kinematics, dynamics, motion planning, and control of mobile robots and robot arms.
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PR Newswire. “Demand for Global Industrial Robotics Market Size…, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/demand-for-global-industrial-robotics-market-size--share-is-expected-11-8-cagr-rise-will-hit-to-usd-81-4-billion-globally-by-2028-with-covid-19-analysis--industry-trends-value-analysis--forecast-report--zion-market-resea-301549130.htm.” Accessed December 6, 2022.
World Economic Forum. “The Future of Jobs Report 2020, https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2020.pdf.” Accessed December 6, 2022.
Glassdoor. “How much does a Robotics Engineer make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/robotics-engineer-salary-SRCH_KO0,17.htm.” Accessed December 6, 2022.
Glassdoor. “How much does a Robotics Technician make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-robotics-technician-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,22.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed December 6, 2022.
Glassdoor. “How much does a Software Engineer make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/united-states-software-engineer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,13_IN1_KO14,31.htm.” Accessed December 6, 2022.
Glassdoor. “Robot Operator Overview, https://www.glassdoor.com/Career/robot-operator-career_KO0,14.htm.” Accessed December 6, 2022.
Glassdoor. “AI Engineer Overview, https://www.glassdoor.com/Career/ai-engineer-career_KO0,11.htm.” Accessed December 6, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.