Career Development

What Does an Automation Technician Do?

Find out what an Automation Technician does, how to get this job, salary information, and what it takes to succeed as an Automation Technician.

An Automation Technician plays an essential role in streamlining and enhancing the efficiency of production and manufacturing processes through the implementation and maintenance of automation systems. This position involves a blend of skills in technology, troubleshooting, and innovation, enabling the seamless operation of machinery and automated systems. By ensuring these systems function optimally, the technician supports the organization’s goals of maximizing productivity and minimizing downtime. Their expertise not only contributes to the improvement of current operations but also aids in the development and integration of new technologies, ensuring the company remains competitive and responsive to industry advancements. Through their work, Automation Technicians facilitate a smoother, more efficient production flow, directly impacting the overall performance and success of the organization.

Automation Technician Job Duties

  • Design, program, simulate, and test automated machinery or processes to complete precise tasks within production environments.
  • Troubleshoot and maintain automation equipment, including robotic systems, to ensure minimal downtime and optimal performance.
  • Install new automation systems and configure hardware or software components as per the project requirements.
  • Perform regular preventive maintenance on automation equipment to reduce the risk of unexpected failures.
  • Collaborate with engineering and manufacturing teams to develop and implement system modifications or enhancements to improve efficiency and productivity.
  • Document automation processes and maintain detailed records of system configurations, modifications, and performance issues for future reference.
  • Train end-users and technical staff on the operation and maintenance of automation systems to ensure safe and effective use.
  • Evaluate and integrate new technologies or upgrades into existing automation systems to enhance capabilities and performance.

Automation Technician Salary & Outlook

Factors influencing an Automation Technician’s salary include industry experience, specialized skills in programming PLCs, robotics, and system integration. The complexity of projects handled, proficiency in troubleshooting, and knowledge of current automation technologies also play crucial roles. Additionally, working for industries with high automation demand, like automotive or manufacturing, can significantly affect earnings.

  • Median Annual Salary: $64,575 ($31.05/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $100,000 ($48.08/hour)

The employment of automation technicians is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

This growth is driven by increasing adoption of automation across manufacturing and service industries to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Automation Technicians are crucial for installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting automated systems, ensuring their optimal performance and addressing the rising demand for automation solutions.

Automation Technician Job Requirements

Education: An Automation Technician typically pursues education in fields like electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or automation technology. Essential coursework includes robotics, computer programming, control systems, and electronics. While many enter the field with an Associate’s Degree, reflecting a blend of theoretical and practical learning, others opt for a Bachelor’s Degree for deeper specialization. A Post-Secondary Certificate, focused on specific technical skills, is also common, offering a quicker pathway into the profession. Majors or specializations in mechatronics and industrial technology are highly relevant.

Experience: Automation Technicians typically enter the field with a solid foundation in hands-on technical experience, often gained through a mix of on-the-job training and participation in specialized training programs. These professionals are expected to have a background in working with automation systems, demonstrating proficiency in troubleshooting, maintenance, and system improvements. Experience with programmable logic controllers (PLCs), robotics, and computer-integrated manufacturing systems is highly valued. Continuous learning through workshops and industry seminars is common, ensuring technicians stay updated on the latest technological advancements and best practices in automation.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications and licenses are not typically mandatory for Automation Technicians, but obtaining certifications such as Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST) from the International Society of Automation (ISA) can enhance job prospects and credibility in the field. Some positions may require specific safety certifications depending on the industry and location.

Automation Technician Skills

PLC Programming: Technicians adept in this area program and configure machines to execute complex tasks with high precision and efficiency. Their expertise encompasses a thorough understanding of control logic, along with the skills to interpret and modify electrical schematics and ladder diagrams, ensuring machines operate at their best.

Robotics Integration: In this specialty, technicians design, program, and integrate automated robotic systems into manufacturing or processing facilities to boost efficiency and productivity. They work closely with engineers and maintenance teams to maintain these systems, aligning them with operational objectives.

Process Optimization: Automation technicians apply advanced technologies to identify and implement enhancements in manufacturing and production processes. By analyzing data trends and diagnosing inefficiencies, they apply automation solutions to streamline workflows, thereby increasing productivity and reducing operational costs.

Electrical Troubleshooting: With a meticulous approach to diagnosing faults in automated systems and electrical circuits, technicians use specialized diagnostic tools and their deep knowledge of electrical schematics to quickly address malfunctions. This skill is critical for minimizing downtime and ensuring continuous operation of automation equipment.

SCADA Systems: Technicians with expertise in SCADA systems manage the configuration, maintenance, and troubleshooting to ensure efficient data acquisition and process control. Their work is crucial for optimizing industrial operations, maintaining system integrity, and protecting against security vulnerabilities.

Industrial Network Configuration: By configuring and maintaining communication systems between machinery and control systems, technicians facilitate seamless data flow and operational efficiency. Their knowledge of network protocols, hardware compatibility, and security measures is essential for preventing data breaches and ensuring uninterrupted production.

Automation Technician Work Environment

Automation Technicians often find themselves in varied environments, from manufacturing floors to office settings, depending on the task at hand. The physical setting is usually defined by the project, requiring adaptability to both quiet spaces for programming and louder, active areas for machinery testing. Their workspace must be organized, housing advanced tools and equipment essential for troubleshooting and maintenance.

Work hours can extend beyond the typical nine-to-five, especially when critical systems go offline, demanding immediate attention to minimize downtime. This role typically adheres to a standard dress code of safety gear on the floor and casual or business casual attire in office areas.

The culture within these roles emphasizes continuous learning, given the rapid evolution of automation technologies. Interaction with both machines and humans is frequent, necessitating strong communication skills alongside technical expertise. Health and safety are paramount, with strict adherence to protocols to prevent accidents.

In essence, the work environment for Automation Technicians is dynamic, blending technical challenges with the need for interpersonal collaboration and a strong commitment to safety and efficiency.

Advancement Prospects

Automation Technicians can progress to roles such as Automation Engineers, Control Systems Engineers, or Robotics Engineers, focusing on designing, programming, and improving automated systems. Advancement often involves taking on more complex projects, leading teams, or specializing in cutting-edge technologies like AI integration.

To achieve these advancements, gaining hands-on experience with various automation software and hardware is crucial. Mastery in troubleshooting complex systems and a deep understanding of different programming languages used in automation can set a foundation for leadership roles.

Engaging in projects that require innovative automation solutions can showcase an individual’s capability to handle higher responsibilities. Demonstrating skills in improving efficiency and productivity through automation can also lead to opportunities in project management within the field.


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