Automation Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Automation technicians repair and maintain the computer-controlled systems and robotic devices used within industrial and commercial facilities to reduce human intervention and maximize efficiency. Their duties require knowledge of electronics, mechanics and computers.
Job Description of an Automation Technician
Automation technicians troubleshoot, service and fix the computerized systems and robotic devices that are designed to reduce human interaction, such as robotic assembly devices and computer-controlled building air-conditioning systems. These machines and systems are often found within industrial and manufacturing plants, such as food processing facilities. Alternate job titles include field technician, bench technician, robotics technician, production support technician and maintenance technician.
Duties of Automation Technicians
Automation technicians perform routine diagnostic checks on automated systems, monitor automated systems, isolate problems and perform repairs. For example, technicians at a food packaging facility use weights or specialized instruments to ensure the machines are dispensing the correct amount of food into containers. If a problem occurs, the technician needs to troubleshoot the issue and determine if the problem is mechanical, electrical or from the computer systems controlling the process. Once the issue has been diagnosed, the technician must repair or replace any necessary components, such as a sensor or electrical wiring.
Requirements to Become an Automation Technician
Employers may prefer applicants who have completed an automation technology or mechatronics associate degree program. These degree programs integrate computer science with mechanics, electronics and process controls, They also commonly include coursework in hydraulics, pneumatics, programmable logic controllers, electrical circuits, electrical machinery and human-machine interfaces. Good math and analytic skills are essential to understand automated systems and isolate problems. Workers are expected to become proficient with various instruments and hand tools, such as electrical multimeters.
Certifications can enhance employment opportunities and keep professionals current with the latest technological developments. Credential programs are offered by several equipment manufacturers and professional associations, such as the Electronics Technicians Association and the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council.
Salary and Job Outlook
In May 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that electro-mechanical technicians, including automation technicians, had a median annual salary of $51,820. The number of jobs for electro-mechanical technicians is expected to remain the same during the 2010-2020 decade, according to the BLS.
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