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Become An Automation & Controls Engineer

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Working As An Automation & Controls Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $82,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Automation & Controls Engineer Do

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.

Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.

Duties

Electrical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
  • Perform detailed calculations to develop manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
  • Direct the manufacture, installation, and testing of electrical equipment to ensure that products meet specifications and codes
  • Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
  • Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure that projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget

Electronics engineers typically do the following:

  • Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
  • Analyze customer needs and determine the requirements, capacity, and cost for developing an electrical system plan
  • Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
  • Evaluate systems and recommend design modifications or equipment repair
  • Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure that they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
  • Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems in order to improve technical performance

Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in a variety of areas, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.

The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers also must work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.

Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers.

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How To Become An Automation & Controls Engineer

Electrical and electronics engineers must have a bachelor’s degree. Employers also value practical experience, so participation in cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit for structured work experience. Having a Professional Engineer (PE) license may improve an engineer’s chances of finding employment.

Education

High school students interested in studying electrical or electronics engineering benefit from taking courses in physics and mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting are also helpful, because electrical and electronics engineers often are required to prepare technical drawings.

In order to enter the occupation, prospective electrical and electronics engineers need a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology. Programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. Courses include digital systems design, differential equations, and electrical circuit theory. Programs in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology should be accredited by ABET.

Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education. Cooperative programs combine classroom study with practical work. Internships provide similar experience and are growing in number.

At some universities, students can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as an instructor at some universities, or in research and development.

Important Qualities

Concentration. Electrical and electronics engineers design and develop complex electrical systems and electronic components and products. They must be able to keep track of multiple design elements and technical characteristics when performing these tasks.

Initiative. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to apply their knowledge to new tasks in every project they undertake. In addition, they must engage in continuing education to keep up with changes in technology.

Interpersonal skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to work with others during the manufacturing process to ensure that their plans are implemented correctly. This collaboration includes monitoring technicians and devising remedies to problems as they arise.

Math skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to use the principles of calculus and other advanced math in order to analyze, design, and troubleshoot equipment.

Speaking skills. Electrical and electronics engineers work closely with other engineers and technicians. They must be able to explain their designs and reasoning clearly and to relay instructions during product development and production. They also may need to explain complex issues to customers who have little or no technical expertise.

Writing skills. Electrical and electronics engineers develop technical publications related to equipment they develop, including maintenance manuals, operation manuals, parts lists, product proposals, and design methods documents.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as electrical and electronics engineers. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam can be taken right after graduation from a college or university. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After getting work experience, EITs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education courses to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

Advancement

Electrical and electronic engineers may advance to supervisory positions in which they lead a team of engineers and technicians. Some may move to management positions, working as engineering or program managers. Preparation for managerial positions usually requires working under the guidance of a more experienced engineer. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

For sales work, an engineering background enables engineers to discuss a product's technical aspects and assist in product planning and use. For more information, see the profile on sales engineers.

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Automation & Controls Engineer Career Paths

Automation & Controls Engineer
Controls Engineer Project Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Controls Engineer Project Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Controls Engineer Project Manager Senior Project Manager
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Electrical Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Electrical Engineer Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Electrical Engineer Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Systems Engineer
Manager, Systems Engineering
9 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Control Systems Engineer Senior Electrical Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Control Systems Engineer Senior Electrical Engineer Project Engineering Manager
Engineering Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Control Systems Engineer Senior Systems Engineer Technical Manager
Technical Operations Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Maintenance Supervisor Director Of Facilities
Director, Facilities & Operations
6 Yearsyrs
Automation Engineer Senior Engineer Construction Manager
Commissioning Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Automation Engineer Senior Engineer Technical Manager
Chief Technologist
7 Yearsyrs
Automation Engineer Senior Engineer Senior Project Engineer
Product Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Controls Technician Network Engineer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Controls Technician Manufacturing Engineer Senior Process Engineer
Engineering Group Leader
7 Yearsyrs
Controls Technician Manufacturing Engineer Senior Design Engineer
Senior Engineering Team Leader
8 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Technical Consultant Senior Technical Consultant
Vice President, Technology
11 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Controls Engineer 3.4 years
Engineer 3.3 years
Robotics Engineer 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Automation & Controls Engineer
Engineer 3.4%
Owner 2.7%
Top Careers After Automation & Controls Engineer
Engineer 5.4%
Consultant 3.5%
Owner 3.0%

Do you work as an Automation & Controls Engineer?

Automation & Controls Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

85.1%

Unknown

8.9%

Female

6.0%
Ethnicity

White

57.5%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Asian

10.8%

Black or African American

9.8%

Unknown

7.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

44.4%

German

5.6%

Persian

5.6%

Albanian

5.6%

Greek

5.6%

Carrier

5.6%

Gothic

5.6%

Serbian

5.6%

Russian

5.6%

Arabic

5.6%

Italian

5.6%
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Automation & Controls Engineer Education

Schools

Purdue University

8.2%

Arizona State University

6.6%

Indiana State University

6.6%

University of Colorado at Boulder

6.6%

Michigan Technological University

4.9%

North Carolina State University

4.9%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

4.9%

University of Kentucky

4.9%

Ohio State University

4.9%

University of Akron

4.9%

University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez

4.9%

University of Houston

4.9%

Clemson University

4.9%

Kansas State University

4.9%

Point Park University

4.9%

University of Delaware

4.9%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

3.3%

Kettering University

3.3%

A-Technical College

3.3%

University of South Florida

3.3%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

43.6%

Electrical Engineering Technology

8.6%

Business

6.2%

Mechatronics And Robotics

5.4%

Mechanical Engineering

5.1%

Computer Science

4.3%

Engineering

3.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

3.9%

Computer Engineering

3.9%

Project Management

2.3%

Industrial Technology

2.3%

Chemical Engineering

2.3%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.9%

Systems Engineering

1.6%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

0.8%

Drafting And Design

0.8%

Management Science

0.8%

Computer Information Systems

0.8%

Finance

0.8%

Engineering Technology

0.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

52.4%

Masters

19.2%

Other

15.4%

Associate

6.5%

Certificate

2.4%

Diploma

2.4%

Doctorate

1.4%

License

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$82,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$60,000
Min 10%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$112,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Microsoft
Highest Paying City
San Carlos, CA
Highest Paying State
California
Avg Experience Level
3.3 years
How much does an Automation & Controls Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Automation & Controls Engineer in the United States is $82,546 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $60,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $112,000.

Real Automation & Controls Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Automation and Controls Engineer Microsoft Corporation Wilsonville, OR Apr 13, 2016 $150,300
Automation and Controls Engineer Microsoft Corporation Wilsonville, OR Sep 17, 2015 $143,800
SR. Automation and Controls Engineer-Large Screen Devices or Other Microsoft Corporation Wilsonville, OR Dec 18, 2015 $141,500 -
$161,500
Automation and Control Engineer Big River Steel LLC Osceola, AR Jan 21, 2016 $135,000 -
$155,000
Automation and Controls Engineer Alaska Tanker Company LLC Beaverton, OR Oct 01, 2009 $120,000
Controls and Automation Engineer Waldemar S. Nelson & Co, Inc. New Orleans, LA Sep 01, 2011 $118,500
Automation Engineer, Controls Cepheid Sunnyvale, CA Feb 05, 2016 $110,000
Automation Control Engineer Citgo Petroleum Sulphur, LA Jun 23, 2016 $107,950 -
$129,400
Automation and Controls Engineer Monin, Inc. Clearwater, FL Jun 27, 2016 $105,789
Automation and Controls Engineers Mubea Inc. Florence, KY Jul 09, 2015 $105,000
Building Automation & Control Engineer Delta Products Corporation Fremont, CA Sep 17, 2014 $97,000
Automation Controls Engineer Dentsply International, Inc. Milford, DE Jul 15, 2016 $93,579
EAF Automation Controls Engineer Steel Dynamics Columbus, LLC Columbus, MS Sep 02, 2016 $91,000
Senior Industrial Automation and Controls Engineer Interplex NAS, Inc. Northvale, NJ Mar 06, 2015 $90,730
Senior Automation and Control Engineer Forum Us, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 19, 2016 $90,000
Automation and Controls Engineer Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation San Carlos, CA Nov 01, 2014 $90,000
Senior Automation and Control Engineer Forum Us, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 18, 2013 $90,000
Automation Systems & Control Engineer Tesis, LLC Houston, TX Sep 16, 2014 $86,000
Automation and Controls Engineer Nutec Tooling Systems, Inc. Meadville, PA Nov 17, 2015 $85,000
Automation Controls Engineer Morrison Timing Screw Co. Glenwood, IL Feb 01, 2014 $85,000
Automation and Controls Engineer Monin, Inc. Clearwater, FL Sep 30, 2016 $80,000
Process Automation Supervisory Controls Engineer Tmeic Corporation Roanoke, VA Oct 12, 2016 $78,416
Plant Process Automation and Control Engineer Evonik CYRO LLC Westwego, LA Sep 08, 2015 $78,000
Automation Control Engineer Solyndra LLC Fremont, CA Aug 16, 2011 $77,646 -
$93,746
Automated Driving Engineer-Path Planning and Controls Ford Motor Company Dearborn, MI Sep 14, 2016 $75,660 -
$126,660

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Top Skills for An Automation & Controls Engineer

  1. PLC
  2. HMI
  3. Automation Control Systems
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Composed PLC code to track conveyor down time and root cause for (LCV), Light Commercial Vehicle paint system.
  • Support current production equipment making PLC/HMI program software/hardware modifications to improve production efficiency/capacity.
  • Experience in specifying and designing automation control systems for industrial, power, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, food & beverage facilities.
  • Develop and implement control logic and SIS configuration for plant operations, Burner Management and plant Cause and Effects safety systems.
  • Implement SCADA Initiatives at the local operations providing technical assistance and education regarding those initiatives.

How Would You Rate Working As an Automation & Controls Engineer?

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Top 10 Best States for Automation & Controls Engineers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Virginia
  3. Maryland
  4. Alabama
  5. California
  6. Alaska
  7. Colorado
  8. Texas
  9. New Jersey
  10. Idaho
  • (176 jobs)
  • (894 jobs)
  • (418 jobs)
  • (168 jobs)
  • (2,643 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (386 jobs)
  • (1,267 jobs)
  • (381 jobs)
  • (48 jobs)

Top Automation & Controls Engineer Employers

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Jobs From Top Automation & Controls Engineer Employers

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