Whether you’re a senior in high school or someone who just wants to see if the field of robotics might be right for you, it’s important to determine whether the role of robotics engineer will give you the satisfaction and fulfillment you want out of your career. Here are some questions to ask yourself that can help you figure out whether becoming a robotics engineer is right for you. How to Decide if a Career in Robotics is Right for You

What are some common misconceptions about working with robots?

Many people who first hear about working with robots envision something like Rosie from The Jetsons or C-3PO from Star Wars. Robots are such a prevalent part of our entertainment that we seem to expect them to act just like us. We forget, however, that these characters are not real but rather fantastical creations that exist only in fiction. The truth is that robots don’t look like humans and they don’t work exactly like us either. They are very different creatures and their behavior can be downright odd! That said, once you learn how these other beings operate, it will make more sense why so many people find it so appealing (and challenging) to work with them.

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What do you need to know before you start your first year of college?

In most majors, it can take as long as four years to earn your bachelor’s degree. As you enter college and learn more about your chosen field, however, you may decide that you don’t like it as much as you thought you would. It’s never too late to change your major—but things will be easier if you make that decision earlier rather than later. So before starting college, ask yourself these questions: Are there career opportunities within my field?

How to Decide if a Career in Robotics is Right for You
How to Decide if a Career in Robotics is Right for You

What kind of salary do people in my chosen major make? Will I need any certifications or licensures after graduating? Where will I find jobs (or at least internships) with my major? To help answer these questions, explore programs like The College Majors Handbook or U.S.

What advice would I give my younger self, who wants to be an engineer or scientist, but doesn’t know where to start?

If you’re like me, you want to know where and how your interest in robotics got started. Well, I’ll tell you. Like many students during my childhood, I grew up watching science fiction movies. 2001: A Space Odyssey from 1968 was probably one of my favorites. Today, people are excited about many of these sci-fi visions actually becoming reality—like driverless cars and automated drones that deliver packages to our homes. But as we enter a new age of robotics, technology moves at such a fast pace that we sometimes have no idea what’s happening right under our noses. For example, have you ever seen these little robot vacuums?

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What should you look for when researching colleges or university programs?

If you’re going to be spending several years and thousands of dollars on your education, it’s important that you are happy with where you end up. A lot of people say that when looking at programs, they should ask three questions: What will I get out of it? How will I use what I learn? Will it help me get a job after school? While these are all important considerations, there are more things you should take into account. For example, how large is each school’s robotics team? What types of competitions do they enter and what results have they had? Do any of their students go on to work in robotics after college (or during)? Are there local career opportunities available or will most students need to move away from home upon graduation?

How to Decide if a Career in Robotics is Right for You
How to Decide if a Career in Robotics is Right for You

Can I have a successful career without finishing college or university?

Entry-level jobs are important because they serve as stepping stones toward promotions and higher pay. While you don’t necessarily need one of these positions to launch your career, they can set you up with a more desirable role later on. What exactly qualifies as an entry-level job will vary by industry and by company, but there are plenty of opportunities to get your foot in the door—even without a degree. Many employers offer unpaid internships or apprenticeships that allow workers to gain experience while working at their current position. Volunteering at local non-profits and taking volunteer workdays can also be beneficial, giving you experience and boosting your resume. For those who want a little more guidance, adult education classes provide training for specific occupations such as welding or automotive technician. By staying busy during these off hours, you may be able to save some money in tuition fees too!

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What are some good entry-level jobs, even without degrees?

As you might expect, one of your best bets is STEM. (Science, technology, engineering and math-related) fields remain some of the most in-demand careers available right now. Not only that, but there’s also more job security—and thus better benefits and higher pay—than with many other types of careers. If you decide that pursuing a degree or certificate isn’t possible at first but still want to pursue a career in robotics, consider starting out by working as an assistant or apprentice instead. Many apprenticeships are paid positions that allow young people without degrees or experience to gain entry into specific trades or vocations like plumbing, welding and even electrical work.

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