How To Become A Robotics Engineer

Looking to become a robotics engineer? Read on to find out how!

There are many roles an engineer could have responsibility for within robotics, just like there are many applications for the use of robots. A robotics engineer could be involved in the whole project life cycle, from listening to what the customer needs the robot to do, full robot and component selection, programming the robot, right through to site installation and commissioning. During project work, the robotics engineer could be involved with configuring the robot and testing it to its limit, as well as making sure it operates safely.

What does a Robotics Engineer do?

The role of a robotics engineer can often fall into two categories, software and hardware. The hardware aspects cover the physical moving parts, often covered by a mechanically biased robotics engineer and the software entails the code that’s programmed to control the robot. Machine learning and AI (Artificial Intelligence) means that a robot can now teach itself and optimise its own performance. Robots operating on a production line are connected to a network that report performance & maintenance data, in some modern factories, this can be done wirelessly using 5G connectivity.

In recent times Cobots (Collaborative Robots) have seen a significant increase in popularity, a Cobot works directly with humans, as opposed to traditional robots operating independently, often away from humans, so a robotics engineer could be involved in optimising Cobot performance to make sure the customer is gaining maximum benefit. robotics engineers also get involved in maintaining and servicing robots so they’re involved in upgrading parts, replacing worn-out components and giving the robots a full service. robotics engineers often spend elongated periods of time on customer’s sites, so great customer-facing communication skills are paramount!

What do I need to do to become a Robotics Engineer?

There are loads of routes into becoming a successful robotics engineer. Lots of people go down the apprenticeship route, working for a specialist engineering company, learning and studying simultaneously. This “hands-on”, real-world experience gives budding robotics engineers practical experience whilst learning from experienced teammates. People who’ve shown an interest in computing, IT, programming, maths or physics at school, can often have some of the foundation skills required. Others go to college and study for an HNC/HND qualification giving them some of the theoretical know-how often combined with working a 4 day week and attending college on a day release basis. Popular college courses include Robotics & Automation, Engineering, Electrical & Electronics Engineering or Mechatronics.

Another option is to attend a University and study a course such as robotics engineering, Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Electrical Engineering, Electronics, Mechatronics, Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science. It’s usual to have a requirement of 2 or 3 A-Levels which often include Maths and Physics to qualify for a course. Some Robotics Engineers start with a BSc level course in a subject such as Electrical Engineering then take on an MSc and specialise in Artificial Intelligence or Robotics.
For any of these routes, the Engineers Samuel Frank has helped find a new role have always had a passion for robotics outside of work and academia. We’ve seen Robotics Engineers enter regional and national competitions, build and commission their own robots at home, join local robotics groups all because they’re genuinely passionate about robots!

Job Duties of a Robotics Engineer

A robotics engineer is ultimately a problem solver, like most Engineers! Through analysing a situation and working with constraints such as time, money, space available and materials, a robotics engineer needs to come up with a solution that meets them all.

When a robotics engineer is analysing and looking at what could work best, they’re going to need to find out what the robot needs to be able to do; How fast can it perform the task? What safety criteria needs to be met? What are the best robots on the market that will perform the task? What connectivity is required and is available in the area the robot will be stationed?

Often robots are bought from one of the main robot manufacturers such as FANUC or KUKA and then programmed to perform the task in hand. Sensors, vision systems and interfacing with hardware will all need to be factored in when programming the robot.

The Robotics Engineer will often be involved in installing the robot and commissioning it to make sure it does what the customer needs it to do. This involves rigorous testing of all elements including the hardware, the software and the robot’s connectivity to the network.

Once the robot is up and running and performing its allotted task, a Robotics Engineer will often get involved in maintaining it. Modern robots are connected to a network and can easily communicate when certain parts are worn and need replacing (a bit like when you get a warning light come on in your car!). A Robotics Engineer will perform detailed analysis from data sheets to identify where potential faults might occur and make sure they’re ahead of the curve and prevent a fault rather than reacting to one!

A Typical Robotics Engineer Job Description

Employers look for Engineers who have great communication skills and who can deal well with customers in face to face environments. Other appealing attributes include collaboration and team working skills as well as being able to critically think and problem solve.

Here’s a template for a Robotics Engineer position we recently worked on. This role has a software/programming bias and was for a Robotics Engineer to join a company on a staff basis rather than sub-contract.

Robotics Engineer – Programming / Commissioning – Permanent – £Salary + package

Samuel Frank is now recruiting for an experienced Robotics Engineer with experience of programming and commissioning KUKA and FANUC robots involved in palletising and depalletising. This experience is key. They’re looking for a successful applicant to join the business and add value with a minimum amount of bedding in time.

Key aspects of the Robotics Engineer position include:

  • Programming and commissioning KUKA and/or FANUC robots (experience with Universal and/or ABB will be considered)
  • Must have experience of palletising and depalletising applications
  • Robotic system layout design, perform reach studies, simulations and calculations to confirm system feasibility
  • Full project life cycle experience – including programming from scratch
  • PLC programming experience – will be ideal, especially Siemens & Rockwell knowledge for motion/servo control applications
  • Development of Functional, Detailed and Software Design Specifications from User Requirement Specifications

Other areas of interest that often come up on job specifications include:

  • CAD skills
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning
  • ROS (Robot Operating System)
  • 2D and 3D vision system experience
  • IoT (Internet of Things)
  • Hydraulics and pneumatics

Robotics Engineer Salary Ranges

Robotics Engineers work in both contract and permanent positions. An entry-level, qualified Robotics Engineer could expect to earn £25-28k and as their experience builds, could see their salary rise to £34-40k with 2-6 years experience. An experienced, seasoned Robotics Engineer could see their earnings rise to £45-60k. A Robotics Engineer working on a contract basis, depending on what their skill level is and what they’re working on, could see them earning an hourly rate between £30-50hr.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. If you’d like to discuss anything related to robotics, please get in touch via the website, call us on 01133201800 or email Andrew Longfellow at