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Automation Technician vs. Automation Engineer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Automation technicians and engineers are both in high demand in today’s industry. As technology advances, so does the need for these professionals. If you’re interested in a career in automation, understanding the difference between these two job titles can help you choose the right path for you. In this article, we compare and contrast automation technicians and engineers, and we provide tips for choosing the right career.

What is an Automation Technician?

Automation Technicians install, maintain and troubleshoot automated machinery and equipment in factories, plants and other industrial settings. They work closely with Automation Engineers to ensure that the equipment is installed correctly and functioning properly. Automation Technicians may also be responsible for training other workers on how to use the machinery. Automation Technicians use a variety of tools, including computer-aided design (CAD) software, to create and interpret schematics and blueprints. They use hand tools, power tools and precision measuring instruments to install, maintain and repair automated systems.

What is an Automation Engineer?

Automation Engineers are responsible for designing, developing, testing and managing industrial control systems and integrated machinery. They work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and defense. Automation Engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, although some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Automation Engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models and blueprints of their designs. They also use computer simulations to test how their designs will operate in real-world conditions. Automation Engineers typically work in an office environment, but they may also spend time on the factory floor to observe the systems they designed in action.

Automation Technician vs. Automation Engineer

Here are the main differences between an automation technician and an automation engineer.

Job Duties

Although automation technicians and engineers share the same goal of improving productivity through the use of technology, their daily job duties can differ. Automation technicians typically perform maintenance tasks, such as troubleshooting machinery, repairing software programs and conducting physical inspections to ensure proper functionality. Engineers, however, often develop these solutions by designing and implementing new systems and programming existing ones. Additionally, automation engineers may oversee the installation and initial operation of automated systems, while automation technicians typically provide ongoing support to ensure effective operations.

Job Requirements

Automation technicians typically need to have an associate degree in automation engineering technology or a related field. Some employers may prefer candidates who have experience working with automated systems, but it is not always required. Automation engineers usually need to have a bachelor’s degree in automation engineering or a related field. Additionally, many automation engineers pursue licensure through the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). This organization offers certification programs that teach professionals how to design, install and maintain automated systems.

Work Environment

Automation technicians work in a variety of environments, including manufacturing facilities and warehouses. They may also work for companies that provide automation services to other businesses. Automation engineers typically work in engineering or research departments at manufacturing companies. Some may work as consultants for large manufacturers.

Automation technicians often work long hours on their feet and perform physically demanding tasks. Automation engineers usually work regular business hours in an office setting.


Both automation technicians and engineers use technical skills to perform their jobs. Automation technicians typically have a more basic understanding of automation systems, while engineers usually have a more in-depth knowledge. Both professionals need to be able to understand blueprints and schematics.

Automation technicians typically benefit from having mechanical skills, as they often work with machinery and tools. They also may need to solder or weld parts together. Automation engineers need to have strong analytical and problem-solving skills to design effective automation systems. They also may need to use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models of their designs.


Automation technicians can earn an average salary of $64,766 per year, while automation engineers can earn an average salary of $90,833 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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