When most of us were kids, we dreamt of being firefighters, dancers or footballers – but how amazing would it be to go back and tell your former self that you went on to become a robotics engineer? In 2023, the job title that once seemed made-for-the-movies is now more accessible than ever – and while the journey into robotics isn’t an easy one, it’s definitely achievable.

So where do you begin?

Statistics say that the ideal age to start getting into robotics is from seven to eight – but don’t let that put you off; whether you built your first bot while you were still in primary school or you’re taking an interest now it’s time to pick a uni degree, there’s never a bad time to begin. Robotics engineering largely relies on skills in data analysis, engineering and computer science – and depending on your interests and abilities, there are various routes into the industry. 

Generally – and as with most specialisations – it begins with gaining a solid education. Weigh up what aspects of robotics interest you most in order to determine where to focus your studies. If the idea of coding and programming speaks to you, computer science is the way to go. If you’re more of a hands-on type of person, excited to roll your sleeves up and build hardware from scratch, it might be a good idea to focus on mechanical engineering. If you’re still uncertain, do a little reverse engineering; look up some jobs that you’re interested in and see what skills the employer wants you to have. As a foundation, most firms require a knowledge of mathematics and science, and it helps to have skills in Computer-Aided Design/Manufacturing – so whichever path you choose, it’s integral to keep that in mind too. 

How to Go About Studying?

From there, it’s time to consider how you wish to go about studying. There are plenty of courses around the country focusing on mechatronics, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation and more that you can research to get started. But while it’s true that many companies will require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree, it isn’t always a necessity. If university isn’t a viable option for you, there are resources like Khan Academy, Coursera, Udemy and even Youtube that you can utilise online at your own time and pace, for much less – if any – cost. 

Once you’ve got your education down, the next step on the ladder is to start gaining experience. Networking is a great place to begin, introducing yourself into the world of work – getting to know like-minded people who can potentially help you along the way and offer you your first jobs. You may wish to undertake an internship for some all-important on-the-job experience while you expand your network, or you might undertake personal projects to put your skills to the test. The industry is ever-evolving, and your commitment to learning should be too – so don’t be afraid to seek out additional courses, site visits or bootcamps to practice your learnings while you search for work. 

Applying for Jobs

The last and perhaps most integral item on your agenda is to start applying for jobs. This is the time to get your ducks in order and put your best foot forward. Craft yourself a winning CV showcasing the education, experience and passion you’ve garnered for robotics throughout your journey and dedicate some time to finding your perfect fit. It’s important to set realistic goals at this stage of the process – applying for roles within your reach that you feel qualified to do. It is a competitive market, but don’t let that put you off – carve out a strategy of what companies you’d like to target, set some realistic goals and get ready to practice a little patience. Taking the first step on a career ladder can be daunting and disheartening, but with the right education and a little persistence, you’ll get there in no time. 

So what career prospects are out there? The list is almost endless. From robot programmers to machine operators… software engineers to salespeople… and machine learning specialists to maintenance workers, there really is something for everyone, at all levels of experience. So whether you’re a budding builder or a science superbrain, keep your options open and explore the possibilities available online. 

As with any new career, hard work goes a long way – and while the road ahead might seem like a long one, the most important thing to remember is to enjoy it. They say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life – so take the leap today and make that first step towards a lifetime of career satisfaction. 

By Lisa Kenney