With the continuing drive toward automation in nearly every industry, robotics has emerged as a robust, growing field. According to a study conducted by Zion Market Research on the market for industrial robotics, the field is expected to enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 11.8% through 2028. In 2021, Zion Market Research reported that the value of the industrial robotics industry was $47 billion, and it is expected to grow to $81.4 billion by 2028.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automation, including robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), is expected to rapidly increase over the upcoming decade and potentially result in job losses across many sectors. To avoid this potential issue as you consider various potential degrees to pursue, it might make sense to give degrees leading to robotics jobs serious consideration. By pursuing and obtaining a degree leading to a position in robotics, you might be well-positioned to take advantage of the field’s expansion and enjoy a well-paying, in-demand career.
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Since robotics is an emerging field, wage data is not available through the BLS. However, the BLS reports that mechanical engineers, which include robotics engineers as a subset, enjoyed an average salary of $100,820 as of May 2022. To become a robotics engineer, you will need to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. However, some positions in the field, including robotics technician jobs, require Associate’s degrees instead of Bachelor’s degrees.
Once you graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and enter the field of robotics, you might later want to pursue additional certifications and graduate-level coursework in robotics to further your career. However, you can gain an entry-level, degreed position by obtaining a degree in one of the 10 majors below:
- Electrical engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Computer science
- Mathematics or physics
- Computer programming
- Technology and design
- Artificial intelligence
- Industrial engineering
- Aerospace engineering
- Dedicated robotics major
This guide will explore each of these various majors and how they might provide an entry into a career in robotics.
Helpful Skills for Careers in Robotics
For a career in robotics, the following skills are helpful:
- Computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) and other relevant software package experience
- Advanced mathematics skills (algebra, trigonometry, and calculus)
- Complex problem-solving skills
- Mechanical skills
- Electronics experience
- Coding experience (C, Python, C++, etc.)
- Creative thinking
- Working on teams
- Dedication to continuous learning
10 Top Degrees for Jobs in the Field of Robotics
Pursuing a degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) major provides a path to entering a career in robotics. Most of these majors require significant coursework in mathematics, computers, or engineering. The particular major you choose might depend on the specific aspects of robotics that interest you. Here’s a look at 10 of the top majors to consider when you want to pursue a career in robotics.
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1. Electrical Engineering
The electrical components and systems of robots are how they can move. A robot’s electronics supply its power, control its motors, and create routes of communication. A degree in electrical engineering is a versatile path to enter the field of robotics. Electrical engineers might be involved in developing electrical systems for use in robots, creating electrical circuits, laying out printed circuit boards (PCBs), and other steps involved in the development process.
Electrical engineers working in robotics work to make sure the robots they work on are efficient, durable, and safe. Robots are complex and contain many sensors that work to monitor and control the robot’s internal environment and allow the robot to perceive the external one. The electrical engineer will work to analyze these sensors and integrate them into the system to ensure proper functioning. To be effective, electrical engineers must closely collaborate with professionals from related disciplines, including mechanical engineers, computer scientists, and others. Each of these other disciplines brings different approaches to the problems addressed by electrical engineers.
For example, a mechanical engineer working with an electrical engineer might be more focused on where a sensor is positioned and its current when the mechanical engineer designs an algorithm for controlling a motor. A computer scientist might focus on sensors that relate to the robot’s perception and machine learning capabilities. Electrical engineers might also have to work with embedded programming to complete the tasks of their jobs. The collaborative nature of electrical engineering work within the field of robotics requires them to be excellent team players and can engage in creative problem-solving to find the most efficient, optimized solutions to problems.
If you pursue a degree in electrical engineering to go into robotics, you can expect to complete coursework in electronic circuits, electromagnetism, mathematics, optics, lasers, signals and systems, basic engineering courses, photonics, and more. Becoming an electrical engineer will require you to complete a Bachelor’s degree that you can then use as a springboard to a career working as an electrical engineer in robotics.
2. Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineering is another popular degree to pursue for those who are interested in a robotics career. The development of all robots begins with their mechanical designs, and mechanical engineers draw from multiple disciplines and include principles of electronics, mechanics, and control theory to design, develop, build, and test the mechanics of robots and robotic systems. Getting a degree in mechanical engineering will provide excellent preparation for your work in the robotics field.
Through your courses, you will learn about the various materials that can be used and their properties. You will also learn how to analyze the properties of different materials, evaluate which to use, and learn how to build mechanical systems. By the end of your coursework, you should have a solid grounding in mechanical design and be ready to apply your knowledge to understand the kinematic chains of the structures that help the robot move. Underpinning everything will be a need to know and understand control theory to apply commands to ensure the robot’s motors make the desired motions and move the right way.
Similar to electrical engineers working in the field of robotics, you will need to frequently collaborate with professionals from other disciplines to ensure the robots you build function properly. Electrical engineers will build the circuits and sensors that give the robots power, and computer scientists will create the algorithms that allow the finished robots to perceive and interact with their environments.
The courses you will need to take while pursuing s degree in mechanical engineering will be challenging. You can anticipate taking advanced mathematics courses through calculus and differential equations, calculus-based physics, principles of design, propulsion, thermodynamics, multiple engineering courses, etc. All of the courses will provide a solid foundation for the skills needed to work within the robotics field.
3. Computer Science
Robotic systems require lots of software of various types to function. Computer scientists must write programs and create algorithms to control the robot’s motion and perception so that it can move accurately and perceive the environment around it. The software infrastructure must be built to facilitate the development of the robot and allows everything to function smoothly and properly. Computer scientists must also create an interface that provides users with easy access to control the robot, and others might work to develop modules to ensure everything works together properly.
Computer scientists are important in robotics because they are responsible for creating the algorithms that enable robots to complete desired tasks autonomously. They work to enable robots the ability to learn and adapt through the creation of machine learning algorithms and the use of artificial intelligence. Since multiple disciplines within the field of computer science are useful in robotics, getting a computer science degree can provide an excellent foundation from which people can hone their skills in a particular niche.
While pursuing a computer science degree, you’ll likely take courses in cloud computing, encryption, data structures, mathematics, Python, C, C++, Java, CSS, HTML, databases, and more. Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science should place you in a great position to work in robotics while focusing on the particular computer discipline in which you are most interested.
4. Mathematics or Physics
Mathematical and physics concepts underly engineering, computer programming, and much more within the field of robotics. People who graduate with Bachelor’s degrees in physics or mathematics are well-equipped to pursue careers in the field of robotics because of their grasp of the scientific and mathematical principles underpinning engineering, design, machine learning, algorithms, and other areas important for creating robots.
Creating robots requires a solid understanding of such topics as geometry, calculus, and trigonometry. Differential equations are important for analyzing issues within engineering robots, and physics principles such as the laws of motion, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism are all necessary when working in robotics. Consequently, mathematics and physics graduates are in-demand in robotics and should be able to leverage their skills to pursue the careers they dream about. Either of these Bachelor’s degrees can also allow people to pursue robotics engineering graduate degrees to add new, complementary skills that can help them advance in their careers.
Pursuing a mathematics or physics degree will require you to take many difficult courses, including calculus, advanced calculus, linear algebra, multivariable calculus, general physics, thermodynamics, and more. People with a deep background in math and physics can solve complex problems, which is a crucial skill in robotics.
5. Computer Programming
In robotics, programmers write and test programs and make necessary modifications to direct the operations of robots and robotic equipment. A computer programmer might develop robotic software for robots used in industrial and manufacturing settings. Robot programmers analyze designs, blueprints, and the requirements for manufacturing or industrial applications to inform them about how the software should be created to program the robotic equipment. They might also set the robot up, test the program before work begins, and engage in quality control and monitoring to ensure the equipment functions properly and produces the desired quality level.
Robot programmers create software according to technical specifications, assess the needs of end-users to develop programs to address them, create software prototypes, and engage in rigorous testing. They also evaluate the ability of the software to integrate with related systems and troubleshoot issues that might arise with the software’s development and during its lifecycle. Computer programmers working in robotics must regularly collaborate with professionals from other disciplines, including mechanical and electrical engineers, software architects, and others involved in the design and development of robots and robotic equipment. They might work with AI specialists to code algorithms and software that facilitate automation.
A computer programming degree requires people to be able to attend to small details, code in multiple computer languages, and work well as members of a team. This degree field requires you to have a solid foundation in mathematics and logic and to have strong analytical capabilities. You’ll need to be fluent in multiple computer languages to succeed in a robotics career, including Python, C, C++, Java, and others, and be comfortable with using Matlab, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi tools, among others.
Some of the courses you might anticipate taking while pursuing your degree in computer programming include several mathematics courses, computer programming, Python, C, C++, software development, computer systems analysis, software testing, etc. You might also be able to take courses focused on robotics programming during your studies to provide you with a strong foundation for a career in robotics. You’ll also likely need to get certificates in various programming languages to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to code.
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6. Creative Technology and Design
A creative technology and design (CTD) degree blends creativity and innovation with technology and engineering and is a versatile degree path with applications in a variety of technical areas, including robotics, game design, interconnected devices, and more. This interdisciplinary degree offers greater creativity and novel approaches to the designs and functioning of robots and robotic equipment by combining principles from engineering, art, and design to allow people to consider problems from different perspectives.
People with creative technology and design degrees work closely with mechanical engineers to design robots and think critically about their potential impact on the larger environment. This degree equips graduates to conceptualize design outcomes and innovate to develop new technologies that address existing problems.
Thorough knowledge of technology and design helps people to understand both the physical makeup of a robot and the software that makes it run. Understanding the physical and technological aspects of robots allows design technologists to contribute to many areas, including product design, visual communication, and others that can be critical in robotics.
A creative technology and degree program will likely include programming as applied to creative projects, foundations of design and computation, history of information technology, and specific courses in imaging, web, 3D modeling and animation, digital text, physical computing, and others. The innovation brought by professionals with CTD degrees facilitates the expansion of robotics into new areas to find solutions to complex problems.
7. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is a rapidly expanding field and is critical in the field of robotics since it gives robots and robotic equipment the ability to intelligently interact with their environments and communicate with people. This discipline within robotics is where a significant amount of innovation is taking place.
With AI algorithms and machine learning, robots can interact with humans, recognize speech, and interpret facial expressions to improve their ability to comprehend human intentions and be more natural in how they react to different situations. This discipline within the field of robotics is open with many complex problems waiting to be solved. Some universities offer standalone AI degrees while others offer AI as a concentration or minor for those pursuing computer science or closely related fields.
Typically, AI programs will include numerous mathematics courses, including probability and statistics. They will also include courses in machine learning models, algorithms, machine learning model design, layered machine learning models, reinforcement learning, and other topics in addition to numerous courses in programming. An AI degree or a concentration in this topic area will equip you well to enter the field of robotics as well as many other career paths.
8. Industrial Engineering
Robotics is important in industrial settings as automation simplifies tasks, speeds production, and reduces labor costs. Industrial engineers are focused on how to optimize the processes involved in industry. They design and improve upon industrial technology to make manufacturing processes more efficient, including by implementing robotic equipment and automation in assembly lines, quality control functions, packaging, and more.
By developing robotic systems, industrial engineers can help companies increase profits, efficiency, and productivity while reducing costs and losses. Because of their particular focus on industrial applications, industrial engineers are in demand in multiple industries, including auto manufacturing, the pharmaceutical industry, and more.
Industrial engineers need a strong background in mathematics, engineering, and science to apply the principles they have learned to solve complex problems surrounding the configuration and integration of large systems to optimize their efficiency. They must work in collaboration with professionals from other disciplines within the field of robotics to accomplish their tasks.
While pursuing an industrial engineering degree, you might anticipate taking multiple courses in mathematics and engineering, including calculus, statistics, differential equations, electronic circuits, material science, physics, chemistry, and more. While these courses are difficult, completing an industrial engineering degree can open doors to robotics applications within numerous industries.
9. Aerospace Engineering
A great degree for getting into the field of robotics is aerospace engineering. In this major, you will learn how to engineer robotic devices that work in extreme environments. As an aerospace engineer, you could design and build robots that operate at high altitudes, in space, in harsh Earth environments, and on the surfaces of other planets. Aerospace engineers might also develop and design unmanned aerial vehicles for mapping, surveillance, and military activities.
Aerospace engineers are responsible for the conceptual design of robotics systems by focusing on the mechanical subsystems involved. They develop, design, fabricate, and test mechanical and structural systems for integration into robotic systems.
Typical courses in an aerospace engineering degree program include courses in advanced mathematics through differential equations and linear algebra, statics, dynamics, statistics, control theory, aerospace structures, thermodynamics, aerodynamics, flight simulation software, and more. The coursework you will complete as you pursue your Bachelor’s degree will provide you with a solid foundation when you begin working in robotics as an aerospace engineer.
10. Dedicated Robotics Degree
An increasing number of universities and colleges are offering dedicated robotics degrees. While these programs provide specialized education and training in robotics, some programs emphasize different areas of the field through their offered courses. For example, some programs have classes that focus on robotics control theory and emphasize mechanical engineering topics while others focus on machine learning, algorithms, perception, and other aspects of artificial intelligence within the robotics field. People who are considering pursuing a robotics degree should review the courses offered by different programs to ensure the right fit for what they want to go into when they begin their careers.
If you want to pursue a career in robotics, completing any of these degrees can provide you with a strong foundation and open doors to the industry. Robotics is a broad field with many applications, so you can tailor your approach to your particular areas of interest.
If you want to pursue a career in robotics, completing any of these degrees can provide you with a strong foundation and open doors to you within the robotics field. Since the field is very broad with robotics applications in many industries, you can tailor your approach according to your particular areas of interest. Choosing to go into robotics might place you at the forefront of automation as it continues to expand and provide you with a career that is both exciting and relatively safe in the face of changes in the career marketplace.
Once you have researched colleges and degree programs, have decided where you would like to go, and have been accepted, your next step will be to get started by enrolling in your classes. Beginning your coursework in your chosen field will place you one step closer to realizing your dream of working in robotics. Once you begin your classes, make sure to dedicate enough time to your studies to get great grades and make yourself even more attractive to recruiters in the future.