Guide to a Robotics Engineering Career

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about the robotics engineering field and what it takes to become a robotics engineer, including the required skills, education, experience, and potential salaries.

[Featured image] A robotics engineer works on a project on a white tabletop.

Robotics engineers help create robotic systems for human and nonhuman duties. As a robotics engineer, you’ll be doing the following responsibilities:

  • Design and build robots

  • Maintain and repair robots

  • Develop new applications for existing robots

  • Research to expand the potential of robotics. 

As a robotics engineer, you could contribute to any aspect of the robot, from initial design to writing control software. You’ll evaluate robotic systems, make any necessary improvements, and perform tests to ensure the robots function correctly and meet industry standards before people use them. Some robotics engineers specialise in creating specific parts of a robot.

Robotics engineers create robots for various purposes, from exploring other planets to working in factories. You can make a significant difference in the world as a robotics engineer.

What is robotics engineering? 

The robotics engineering field falls under electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering. It involves designing, building, and engineering robots. It’s also a practical design role in the research field. 

What does a robotics engineer do? 

As a robotics engineer, you may develop robotic applications across many industries, including automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, defence, and medicine. 

You may spend much of your time working at a computer designing new products or at a workstation assembling prototypes for testing purposes. Some robotics engineers work on-site at manufacturing plants, overseeing robots as they operate on assembly lines.

To keep up with developments in the field, you'll attend professional conferences. These conferences allow for sharing new ideas with other experts and learning about the latest technology.

Working as a robotics engineer, you can specialise in areas such as:

  • Mobility locomotion

  • Sensing and perception

  • Operator interface

  • Manipulators and effectors

  • Programming

Types of robotic engineers 

Many different types of robotics engineering are available for you to choose from, with specialities that fit your interests and skills. 

For instance, some robotics engineers design robotic arms for the auto industry, others help create robots for space exploration, and others develop specialised robots to help perform surgery or assist the military.

Robotics engineering combines electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer systems engineering. Many specialities have emerged as the field has grown and expanded, including but not limited to: 

  • Air traffic management systems

  • Artificial intelligence robotics

  • Automation

  • Bio-cybernetics

  • Computer software development

  • Computer-aided manufacturing

  • Control systems

  • General robotics

  • Intelligent systems

  • Medical robotics

  • Micro-robotics

Robots are used in various fields, creating many opportunities for robotics engineers. You may work in:

  • A manufacturing plant building, maintaining, and fixing robots

  • A technology company designing personal and domestic robots 

  • A university performing research on human-machine interaction and robotic advances

  • Industrial research developing and building new robotic design concepts

What skills are required for robotics engineers?

As robotics engineering is a cutting-edge, multidisciplinary field, you may need to be curious and committed to continuous learning. More specifically, you may want to have these skills:

  • Interest in how things work: As a robotics engineer, you'll be responsible for designing, assembling, testing, and maintaining robots. You must understand mechanics, electronics, sensory feedback systems, and how these complex machines operate. 

  • Imagination: You must be able to visualise how a robot moves and interacts with its environment.

  • Decision-making skills: Many problems have unclear solutions. In these situations, it's up to you to evaluate different options and make the best decision.

  • Maths skills: As a robotics engineer, you’ll use advanced maths daily as you design and analyse the performance of robots. Algebra, geometry, measurement, and statistics are commonly used while calculus or trigonometry may also be used.

  • Computer skills: Robotics engineers use computer software to create detailed designs of robots and robotic systems before they're built. They also use specialised software programs to test how robots perform in different environments.

  • A practical focus: You must use practical and logical thinking to debug machines and get them working correctly. You’ll often have to make decisions that compromise performance in one area and be able to ascertain the best path forward.

  • Communication skills: The ability to communicate your designs to other professionals is essential when you’re working as an engineer.

You’ll also need domain-specific skills. For example, if you’re working on designing robotic brain interfaces, you may need knowledge of flexible conducting metals used as neural probes. If you’re working on autonomous robots, you must understand programming languages and artificial intelligence. You can often learn domain-specific technical skills on the job, although some employers want prior experience in the area you’ll be working.

Where does a robotics engineer work? 

A lot of positions conduct advanced robotics research in universities. Here are some industries where you’ll find robotics engineering jobs.

  • Automotive manufacturers are one of the largest employers of robotics engineers. These companies use robots in manufacturing vehicles and their parts.

  • Robotics engineers also work for defence contractors who build military weapons that require remote or automated operations. Military drones and missile systems commonly use robotic technology.

  • Aerospace firms employ robotics engineers to design and manufacture spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. Robots also help assemble aircraft and perform maintenance on them.

  • Medical equipment manufacturers use robotics engineers to create artificial limbs and prosthetics. Surgical operations have increasingly used robotic surgical systems. 

  • Robotics engineers can also find employment at research firms that study robotic technology and its possible applications in different industries.

Salary and career outlook for robotic engineers 

Robotics engineering has grown rapidly over recent years, and India is now among the top ten countries in the world for annual robot installations [1]. 

India's average annual robotics engineering base salary is ₹5,60,000 as of October 2023 [2]. Some jobs in robotics engineering and their average salaries include:

  • Robotics software engineer:₹7,28,897 [3]

  • Automation engineer: ₹6,50,000 [4]

  • Computer vision engineer: ₹8,00,000 [5]

How to become a robotics engineer

To become a robotics engineer, you’ll need a bachelor's degree. If you intend to work in a robotics software role, you’ll need a background in computer science. If you want to design robotic components, you’ll focus your studies on mechanical or electrical engineering.

Earn a bachelor’s degree.

Several universities offer bachelor's degrees in robotics engineering. Many aspiring robotics engineers tend to pursue a mechanical or electrical engineering degree focusing on robotics. You can choose from various degree options and still have access to a robotics career, including:

  • Electrical/electronics engineering

  • Mechanical engineering

  • Computer science

  • Mathematics

  • Design and technology

  • Computing and programming 

Many universities offer bachelor's degrees in electrical or mechanical engineering with a concentration in robotics. You’ll likely take mathematics and physics courses and more specialised classes related to robotics, such as mechanical design and programming languages. 

If you choose a degree in electrical or computer engineering with robotics, your coursework will focus on components within robots, such as actuators, sensors, and circuit boards.

Employers typically don't mind whether you have a specific degree. They want you to have the necessary skills and know-how to perform the job. Most robotics engineers hold at least a bachelor's degree in engineering.

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What is a robotics engineering degree?

A robotics engineering degree programme teaches you how to design and build robots. You’ll learn about mechanical and electrical engineering, chemistry, computer science, and physics in your courses. The type of robotics engineer you become depends on your educational background, industry experience, and the area of specialisation you choose. 


Gain experience. 

While some employers may hire new graduates, many look for candidates with experience. To get experience, you can volunteer to work on projects through your university or local robotics clubs. You can also seek paid or voluntary internships with companies that make and sell robots. Internships provide hands-on experience working with robots and may help you build professional relationships with mentors who can guide you as you start your career. Some companies even hire their interns as full-time employees after they graduate. 

Consider a postgraduate degree. 

Many employers prefer to hire applicants who have completed a master's or doctorate degree programme in robotics engineering or a related field. Postgraduate programmes allow you to gain valuable knowledge and skills through advanced projects and research opportunities. Most master’s programmes take two years to complete, and doctoral degrees take four to eight years.

Is robotics engineering right for me?

Careers in robotics engineering can be very rewarding. Here are some things to remember as you consider this career path:

  • You’ll need to commit yourself to lifelong learning. The world of technology is always changing and evolving. To remain competitive and relevant, you’ll need to devote yourself to staying current with technological advancements.

  • Focus on solutions. You may encounter problems from time to time. When you do, you may need to be able to take a step back and focus on finding the solution rather than getting bogged down by the problem.

Robotics engineering could be the right career if:

  • You have a solid commitment to lifelong learning.

  • You thrive in an intellectually challenging environment.

  • You have a high level of initiative, integrity, professionalism, and accountability.

  • You can prioritise competing demands, handle multiple projects, and organise your time effectively.

  • You have well-developed analytical, organisational, and problem-solving skills.

Next steps 

Start learning a robotics career's fundamentals and technical skills by understanding the building blocks. You may want to consider the Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control Specialisation offered by Northwestern or the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Specialisation offered by UI Path on Coursera.

Article sources


International Federation of Robots. “India’s Robot Boom Hits All-Time High,” Accessed October 24, 2023.

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