Why don’t more young engineers pursue Automation and Control Engineering careers?

Why don’t more young engineers pursue careers in Automation and Control Engineering? We could all probably make some general assumptions.

  • there is a perception that it’s dirty factory work
  • there is a perception that all of these jobs moved overseas
  • high school grads lack preparation to pursue engineering degree
  • too expensive to pursue engineering degree
  • engineers aren’t fairly compensated

There is a long discussion thread in the Automation and Control Engineering Group on LinkedIn on this very topic. This thread started three months ago and is still getting regular comments. The amount of commentary is surprising to me.

A large portion of the comments are not US-based. I don’t know if you can infer this supports a perception that manufacturing left the US. But I can certainly surmise from the comments that more young foreign engineers are outspoken and passionate about automation and controls. They see their biggest obstacle as an inability to get started in the industry and gain some experience.

I did a little research on some of the other topics to satisfy my own curiosity.

The average tuition for a US-based 4-year public university has increased pretty substantially over the past decade. The investment is still valuable if a graduate can find and retain employment.
four-year university average annual tuition trend

Electrical Engineers are compensated well. The chart below displays the average compensation for an Electrical Engineer with 10 years experience (taken from the IEEE.org site) compared to the average cost of a gallon of gas and the Consumer Price Index over the same period. I multiplied the cost of gas and CPI by 1,000 to make the graph more compact and to emphasize the trends.
Electrical Engineer Salary compared to gas and Consumer Price Index

The growth in compensation is somewhat flat over the last ten years but still quite strong compared to most fields. I couldn’t find much historical data specific to the Automation and Control field. The data I did find on the Automation.com site was similar to the average Electrical Engineer compensation.

The fact that Electrical Engineers saw a decrease in compensation growth over the last decade made me curious if that is common across multiple job types and industries. I found that most jobs are similarly flat as far as wage growth goes. There were a few exceptions though such as Chemical Engineers and Petroleum industry jobs. Two other exceptions were also quite noticeable.

U.S Senators maintained a steeper compensation growth trend than Electrical Engineers over the last decade.
Electrical Enginner salary versus US Senator

The average compensation growth for Fortune 500 CEOs also maintained an impressive trend over the last ten years.
Electrical Engineer salary comapred to CEO

So I say that tuition is an obstacle but not insurmountable and compensation should be viewed as a reason for becoming an engineer. Engineers in the Automation and Controls field are quite handsomely compensated. If you have an opportunity to be a Fortune 500 CEO though, do it instead because you can write yourself an obscene check. While Senators make more than us, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to follow that path because they get less work done than Dilbert’s partner Wally. Most of the people I know with an engineering mindset also like to get things done.


I don’t know the solution to increasing the number of engineers that specialize in the automation and control fields but I’m open to your thoughts.


About Doug Brock

Doug Brock has a broad range of factory automation and wholesale distribution experience and is an expert on the application of the Baldrige Criteria for continuous improvement efforts.
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62 Responses to Why don’t more young engineers pursue Automation and Control Engineering careers?

  1. Kerry Thomas says:

    I’m not sure I agree that the sentors vs. engineers graph necessarily proves anything. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) in 1980 was 78, and at the start of 2011 was about 221. That’s an increase of about 2.83. The salary increase for both senators and engineers are commensurate with the increase in the CPI. $60K in 1980 * 2.83 ~= $170K, and $33K in 1980 * 2.83 ~= $93K. So, it seems that senators’ pay is still about twice that of engineers, and the buying power of that money is still about the same. Unless my reasoning is flawed?

    • Frank says:

      If you know the history of the CPI you’d know it has been tweeked a few times since 1980. Social Security payments are based on CPI among other things. Republicans changed it just to just to lower goverment liability. Using the CPI as a yardstick for any comparison is irrelevant even if you compare both salaries to the same number. Changing the formula for CPI has greater effect on the lower salary. It’s not linear.

    • Doug Brock says:

      I was trying to make a point about the slowing of compensation growth for EEs as compared to senators over the last decade. You are right. Over the full thirty year period the rate of growth is about the same.

  2. Bennion Redd says:

    I see a lot of articles about how to increase the number of people who want to go into engineering. I think we need to change the incentives to align with what’s best for the country, and then let people make up their own minds.

    I enjoy engineering, but I would be hesitant to recommend it over other options to someone who isn’t already inclined towards engineering. I’d be more likely to recommend medicine, for the job security and compensation, or the financial sector if they’re very competitive. If the country needs more engineers (something I’m not entirely convinced of), then it should be reflected in the paycheck, and students can take that into consideration when they choose their profession.

  3. Jonathon Tuttle says:

    Although there are still factories left in the US, there is a belief, justified IMO, that it’s just a matter of time before it leaves this country. Why would I go into a field that I believe will disappear in 10 or 20 years?

    • Doug Brock says:

      It seems that some manufacturing is starting to come back to the US. The Chattanooga area has a number of sizable investments in new manufacturing facilities over the last few years. The number of jobs created doesn’t replace all those lost but the new facilities provide a lot of opportunity for technical workers.

  4. Jon Roesler says:

    The one thing we can be sure of is that, many fewer students will become senators than will become engineers. Many fewer students will become senators than will become professional athletes, too, and we know even the base salaries for major-league pro-ball is higher than the salaries paid senators. Salaries are likely not the problem, so what is?

    Perhaps there is not as much demand for engineers as there was, say, 50 years ago. Higher demand would mean higher wages but, seriously, $90,000 per year for a job with college and ten years experience is not exactly poverty.

    Plus, engineers don’t as a rule have to also sell their souls in the bargain.

  5. GRADY ALFORD says:

    LOL, You should go check your tuition rates (unless this is for yearly tuition rates, the legend is unclear) It just took me $13,000 to finish two years of a Bachelor’s degree, online at that. I already had my Associates in Electronic Engineering with 21 yrs experience. Hit a glass ceiling in this communisitic corporate structure the world is working with. So 120 credit hours needed for BS Management, already had 76 credits, they only took 60, so 20 classes later at $1900 a pop….
    ROI, not sure if it’s there but I did it anyway.
    As for becoming an Engineer, why, the ROI isn’t there, the respect isn’t there. Might as well go for the easy Management degree and bean count your way. Engineering isn’t even in the corporate mission statements anymore.
    “America is becoming a service industry” that’s all you here, so enginnering= outsourced, manufacturing= outsourced…
    Soooooo, read the lines….
    Please see my blog…

    • Doug Brock says:

      The average tuition rates are annual. It seems odd that online degree programs don’t offer any savings over traditional campus programs but that is my experience as well.

  6. Will says:

    On my soap box: 10 years ago we had maybe 2-3 engineers & IT personnel from outside the USA, now we have over 45. Another way to look at is we had ~ 1% and now we have 22% of our workforce. The number are much higher in manufacturing.
    The jobs are still here, but the Americans are not interested. It’s not high-tech jobs, lots of jobs exist but Americans are too proud to take them. In some parts of the country, English is a second language. I could gone on, but I would rather say, Buy American from Americans.
    Answer this for me. If we have 10% unemployment, why are we still granting work visas? Also why is it easier for an illegal alien to get benefits here, than our elderly who paid taxes and SS for their entire work lives.

  7. Jake Brodsky says:

    Manufacturing in general is not considered a growth field. You do not read breathless mainstream press reports of the latest and greatest updates in manufacturing. To make matters worse, we have a steady drumbeat from neo-hippies who rant against working for “the man” in “Big Business.”

    Against a backdrop like that, why would any bright young student want to go in to this line of work?

    Much of this is a chicken and egg sort of thing. I think manufacturing will have to be re-invented at the garage shop level where people build custom widgets for very specific applications. This will in turn bring out the craftsman in people and then we will find ourselves re-inventing the whole field.

    But we’re not there yet and we may not get there for another generation of students at least. First we’re going to have to overcome the obstacles for starting such businesses…

  8. Scott Morris says:

    So what happened in ’97 or ’98? The rate of wage increase looked pretty good until then and then it looks like it was capped at a constant until present time. There was a large jump in DJIA around ’95 which sort of corresponds to the CEO wage jump.
    Any thoughts?

    • Doug Brock says:

      That’s my point exactly Scott. Wage growth didn’t slow for a number of careers nearly as much sa it did for EEs in the last decade. Did the level of contribution for EEs decrease over that period? I don’t think so.

    • Ken says:

      The cold war ended and congress cut the defense budget which cut demand for EEs and other engineers. Current defense needs met by remaining engineers.

  9. John Simon says:

    I think that part of the reason that too few engineering students are working in the field of Engineering is that for the past ten years the investment bankers and hedgefund managers have been hiring the “best and the brightest” people who may be more interested in designing money making schemes than the next great invention.

  10. Roger Lewis says:

    It might be more meaningful if you posted average net worths over a 20 year period.
    Engineers can be prosecuted for insider trading, not our representatives.
    When was the last time someone tried to bribe an engineer?

  11. Douglas Butler says:

    Concerning the Engineer’s vs. the Senator’s pay, are you taking into account that any individual’s experience, and therfore it can be assumed usefullness and compensation, rises with time? The average member of any class will always have average experience, which does not change.

    For the CEO graph you are going to have to use a log scale to be of use.

  12. Tom says:

    I agree with Kerry Thomas–Doug Brock needs to learn how to calculate growth rates. A senator’s pay increase from $60K to $170K over 31 years is an average annual increase of about 3.4% per year. An Engineer’s pay increase from $33K to $93K over 31 years is an annual increase of about 3.4% per year. Looking at the slopes of the lines, they are about the same, hence the rate of change is about the same.

    Doug is wrong about engineers being fairly compensated. Look at the average pay after 10 years and compare it with “easy” degrees such as management, accounting, etc., the engineers are not doing that great. Even starting pay is not much better, considering the tougher academic track that engineers have–getting into engineering school and staying in school. Most business majors in college were drunk for their four years while “all nighters” weren’t uncommon for engineering majors even early in the semester.

    Upon graduation, engineering majors had to pass a drug test–even 25 years ago, while business majors did not. Then, while the engineers were working 60+ hour weeks, the business majors were barely putting in 40 hours per week.

    Best bet is to skip engineering school and become a firefighter or policeman in a large city instead. Work 40 hours a week, get paid for overtime, and get a lot of vacation and holidays with a starting pay of $80k and great benefits. For the last three years before retirement (ususlly before age 50), clock (not work) a lot of overtime. Your pension is 80% of the average of your last three years pay. You get a 10% bonus on top of that if you are disabled (claim you hurt your back).

    No high college costs, retire early, great benefits, great retirement, and count your money while you are “working”. Retire to Florida before age 50…what a country!

    • Doug Brock says:

      I was comparing the growth rate of Senators’ pay to EE pay over the last decade. The growth for senators over the last decade accelerated while EE pay slowed considerably.

  13. Ankur says:

    Dear Doug

    I can apprecaite the graphs and data you gathered. Surely you did an intense research. The graphs are impressive to gain any analyst’s attention. But I belive life has something more than just talking about money , although money counts a lot in everyday life.

    In my opinion you could have had an column that talks about “interest” of high school students who wish to be engineers.

    • Doug Brock says:

      That’s a good idea Ankur. I’ll try and come up with a post that discusses that. I welcome any input you might have.

  14. Curtis says:

    From my experience, there are several factors that have had a definite impact. The first being the utilization of work visas for foreign engineers with a double impact, it cut into the opportunities for employment in the engineering field AND drove REAL wages down because these engineers would work for half of what domestic engineers would work for plus the company received government incentives for the activity (so why not do it). Secondly, the engineering curriculum has been significantly altered since that time to “accommodate” female thinking to encourage “diversity”. In other words, its now taught significantly different intentionally, and not geared toward male learning, so yes, not as many males are entering the field, and the few females that do enter the field, are not sufficient to make up the difference. Its a FACT that men and Women learn differently. It has had a significant impact, more so than ANYONE is willing to admit and YES, it is sexual discrimination. Another impact was “at will employment”, which has enabled a lot of engineering positions to be moved overseas when the work visa limits were reached….at will…(get the picture?). Now understanding “at will employment” one can see that the businesses that hire engineers here make you sign away your intellectual rights, so anything you create, goes to the company…and now we have no innovation, why would anyone work hard to create something new when the CEO takes it all with him when he pulls his “golden parachute” string and leaves the company? “AT WILL” employment has also enabled the “GORILLA BOSS”, you know the type, the one that blames all the problems on someone else..”the engineer and technician” and the underlying truth of the matter is the problem was created by the dum-bass, then all of a sudden he has the solution, and looks the hero..gets all the credit and lies about everthing, steals the creative work of others and claims it as his own. If you ever say anything, your labeled, threatened to be fired, because after all, you are employeed…AT HIS WILL! NOW TELL ME WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO BE AN ENGINEER TODAY?

  15. Joe Smith says:

    The rate of inflation from 01/80 to 12/10 is about 182%. The senator’s and engineer’s salaries have matched the rate of inflation. $8000 tuition with the same inflation would be $22,500. The ceo’s pay should be closer to $350K if they matched inflation.

  16. DesertDude says:

    The most telling graph is the one showing CEO pay increasing 5X over the last 20 years, to a staggering average of $10M. As an EE who is also a stockholder in many public companies, I find this outrageous. Is it really the case that our public companies cannot find qualified executives willing to do the CEO job for less than $10M/year? I suspect most of them would happily do the job for $1M or $2M/year, if not for the fact that this egregious level of compensation has somehow become the norm, and is expected. If not the current crop, then others who are just as capable would happily take their places for such a paltry sum as a million or two a year.

    CEO compensation is not at all in line with the “pay for performance” mantra that is the new compensation norm for engineers and other professional employees. We have seen ample evidence in corporate America of CEOs who were dismal failures, who did irreparable harm to the companies they ran and to their company’s stock price, and who were essentially paid tens of millions of dollars to please leave immediately before you can do any more damage!

    On another note, in some U.S.-based multinational companies, offshoring seems to ebbing back toward a U.S.-based engineering focus. My company has operations around the world, and not only do we have some manufacturing offshore, but also some design and applications engineering. But we still do the bulk of our manufacturing and our design work in the U.S., and that trend seems to be increasing in the last few years. Perhaps the bean counters have finally discovered that the cost benefits of offshoring were not entirely realized, and that an Asian engineer at a much lower salary is not necessarily an identical replacement for a U.S. engineer at a higher salary.

    But the sad news, regarding the issue of U.S. students pursuing engineering, is that when the demand is there, the qualified applicants are not always there to fill the position. My little business group expanded our design engineering staff by 25% this summer. One of our recent hires was an Asian engineer who emigrated to Canada several years ago, and thus required some effort from our legal department to deal with the necessary government paperwork to bring him over here to join our team. He was qualified and experienced, and we are glad to have him on board. But where were the American engineers with similar qualifications and experience? Mostly employed elsewhere and not interested in making a move, as far as I could tell.

    My daughter is halfway through university, studying engineering. She has the gift, or perhaps it’s the curse, and although some may think I’m crazy to encourage her to pursue engineering, I think it is even more crazy to discourage her to study what she loves, what she’s good at, and what she believes will give her the greatest career satisfaction. I am not concerned that American companies will not need or want American engineers when she graduates. But if that turns out to be the case, she is perfectly willing to move to another country, if that’s what it takes to succeed in an exciting career, developing new products and inventing the new technologies of the 21st century. If not in America, then in China or India or wherever people with capital to invest and a dream of making great products and big profits.

    I do not believe it will come to that. The American entrepreneurial spirit is not dead, nor is the American desire to make money by designing and manufacturing things that customers want to buy.

    • Doug Brock says:

      Thanks so much for your comments. As a shareholder, I too am outraged that CEOs specifically those that aren’t company founders in cahoots with boards pillage public companies. Egregious is the perfect word. Your thoughts about engineering are inspired and I’m proud to see them here.

  17. Dave says:

    Hi Doug,
    Interesting article, but the graphs really need a bit of tweaking – they need to normalize the data. I’m no Excel wizard on this – and I’m not sure you can even do it there – but you’d want to put the starting data point (1980 data) at the same vertical level and then use 2 Y-axes on your chart. The left Y-axis could be the engineering salary and the right Y-axis could be the politician/CEO/other salary. That way, you’d actually be able to tell if 1 type of salary was increasing more or less rapidly than the other. The chart would then compare data as percentage increase since 1980, not absolute increase (which is what you should be trying to discuss).

    The way you have it now, your graphs are mostly meaningless and even misleading in some circumstances. As at least a couple commenters pointed out, the politician vs engineers is misleading because it seems to show (without looking at it more closely) that politicians salaries have increased far faster than engineers. While that’s true in total dollars, it’s not true in percentage terms – if other comments are correct. Had you normalized the graph – again, if other comments are correct – then the end points in 2010 would be close to on top of each other, and you’d be commenting more on how the salaries diverged in different time frames.

    The CEO chart is the most obvious example of a poor chart, though. The engineering salaries on such a different scale that it makes the data meaningless. To just make the folly of it more obvious, imagine engineer’s salaries had climbed to an average of $1.2M. Engineers salaries would’ve increased by 40X, while CEOs “only” ~8X, but your graph would’ve shown just a modest rise, while the CEO pay would seem to grow more rapidly.

    Best regards and better charts next time, please!

  18. AG says:

    I was wondering where are this jobs at? Since I joined the work force in 1998 I have not seen a demand for Automation and Control Engineers.

    • Doug Brock says:

      I think it can be tough given the current economic environment depending on where you live. However, the paper edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press classifieds has jobs listed almost every week. I also regularly see openings on sites like the Automation Techies website.

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  21. One can quibble with your details, but your strategic points are valid.

    It is not just automation engineers affected. I suggest that ALL fields involving advanced analytic knowledge and skill are being affected similarly. The number of study hours spent by engineering, physics, applied math, and similar majors exceed the typical business or political science major. This only worsens when advanced degrees are involved. I admit a bias, but I still assert the native intelligence present and needed, on average, remains higher in the hard analytical science majors than most anywhere else on campus.

    I suggest the public perception of these professions and our values is another reason for skewing the career choice selection. Except for Numb3rs — name me a current or recent TV series that featured an intelligent analytic individual in a regular starring role. Medical and scientific detective shows are not the same professional thing. To make my point, consider “I dream of Jeannie” of a few decades ago. The show never could be considered an apex of intellectualism (but still was fun to watch). The hero was an astronaut. Today, few of the people in modern in sit-coms could be considered high achievers in anything.

    Perceived pay is often a motivator to an entering student and family funding the tuition. There is an effective ceiling on salaries in analytic professions. A salary of over $200,000 a year would be a rare astonishment for our lads and lassies. However, that would be considered an insult far below the poverty level if offered to many CEO’s.

    The good and bad news is that other cultures do value and respect serious analytic skills. This means much critical work will be done in the world and the various fields will advance. The bad news is that Americans— especially the ones raised here by parents also raised here — will be a smaller percentage of the participants. Yet the ones with the refined math and science based skills contribute disproportionally to their numbers in the society. We will learn this in retrospect after watching India, China, and other nations surpass us in creating wealth in ways other than a service economy.

    • Doug Brock says:

      Thanks for your comments Dr Mannix. I had not considered this discussion from an educational context as broad as you describe. I’m sure you are correct in the issues we are discussing that impact a decision to pursue engineering as a career similarly impact decisions to pursue other science-based careers.

      • Dr. C. E. Mannix says:

        I ran across our postings (your original and my reply) today while searching something else.
        What we both said is woefully more right today than at the time of the writing.
        I propose culture plays big role for the proporation of foreigners and students from first or second generation immigrants are the lifeblood of many engineering programs. The same observation might be applied in many other disciplines requiring hard study and high skill. Typically, american families do not share any drive to put pressure on the next generation to achieve for achievment sake. That is NOT rare in some other cultures. Along with this situation, educational standards in lower schools have lessened several grade levels (knowledge — not the test scores) while it is not THAT much of an overstatement to say 4 year and post graduate tuition costs are now approaching the price of a space launch when I was a teenager.

        I still think a major factor for the divide is founded upon deep social respect for hard work and analytic skill. I was once on a double decker bus in Hong Kong as a straphanger at rush hour. One of the people I was with called me “Dr. Mannix”. This woman, whom I have never seen before and two others nearby, leap up and offered me their seats. At first I was astonished, then my next thought after astonishment was “There goes the west!”. I realized it was respect for real attainment in any major field of hard work found on an ordinary bus that is not shared in the USA. Why should the next generation respect automation engineering or quantum physics? when their parents would never think of offering a seat to a complete stranger — these days they do not even offer a seat to a pretty girl — much less a geek,

        Sadly automation engineers are perfect examples. They are well educated, talented, badly needed talent in America. However, any engineer, as well as this mathematican, is likely to be crushed in the rush to get off the bus. What you are saying about your field is common in physics, astronomy, mathematics, fluid engineering, structural engineering, factory engineering, machine design, and so on. The exception might be computer engineers which seem to be the only hotly esteemed engineering field because — most americans === computer ===engineering.

        O well, I suggest a study of thriving, growing economies — China, India, Singapore, Korea, Tawain, etc.. aligns with social respect for engineers and other high achievers in the many variations of the analytic sciences. O well, there is thought to be wisdom in the east.

        Your article was good and major a significant observation.

  22. Sarah says:

    I think youth are more into the design of new stuff like air planes with solar panels. Automation is too detrimental to machine productive mistakes and unskilled labor productivity. Plus it’s cool to make a new product

    • Doug Brock says:

      Those involved in automation and controls also get to create and invent Sarah. But you are correct in the glamor is seen as creating the end product not the machinery that makes the end product.

  23. Sean Donnelly says:

    It looks like the lower rate-of-increase for EE salaries coincides with the increase of H1B visas for skilled workers that occurred near the end of 1998 (the “Workforce Improvement and Protection Act”). Could this be one of the main causes?

    • Doug Brock says:

      I haven’t really considered this explanation Sean. I will try to find some information that takes the “Workforce Improvement and Protection Act” and increases in skilled worker visas into consideration. In theory it’s easy to understand how that would negatively impact wage growth if there was not a truly an increasing need for these workers.

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  25. Brad Chitwood says:

    Way too many negative Nancy’s out there. We must first learn to focus on the positive, remember what made us great (Our Manufacturing Ability) and turn this bus around. Innovate, and strive for perfection. In doing so you will find that what ever career choice you choose it will bring you joy, and mastery of any trade or profession will always lead to demand. Demand adds value and is directly proportional to your paycheck.
    If you focus on the negative, you will get negative results……

  26. Bruce Grice says:

    I believe serveral reasons behind this, I think first and foremost it is a career that is not taken seriously. If you ask the average individual what a controls engineer is what would they tell you. We haven’t done a good job in our universitys etc. selling this as a viable career opportunity. I also blame the fact that manufacturing continues to decline.
    ControlsEngineers Job Resource

  27. Seth says:

    I know I’m extremely late to this conversation, but the reason my classmates and I never made it to automation – no jobs. Or better said, no entry level jobs. I graduated in 2006 with Electro-Mechanical Eng Tech. I went to college with soul purpose of working in automation and controls. Since my sophomore year until this day, every job search I run produces one result, people looking for established engineers with 4+ years. Or we can work in the maintenance department (nothing against maintenance departments) where someone with a HS diploma makes us look like we really wasted 4 years and A LOT of money. My point – find an employer willing to give someone with only a degree a chance, and you’ll find your extremely interested “young” engineers.

  28. Brian says:

    I recently finished my EE B.S. and I’m having troubles locating an employer willing to “take a chance” as well. My employment history is mostly mechanical and management w/military and the best I can get interviews for is mechanical assembly or tech support (phone). My main concern is that I may have wasted effort and money to obtain a degree in something I enjoy. Primary reason I chose this field is because I find great satisfaction in knowing that something was accomplished during your work day/week and this field is one that most people would not even be able to grasp much less accomplish…call it pride in what I do. I would like to finish my education to a doctorate in automation or robotics but without a successful job in the field I’m questioning the point of the paper that says I can. What are the options for people like me that just need a chance to prove ourselves? It’s somewhat embarrassing when I tell people my degree and then get in my bucket of a car because I can’t afford anything better. That to may be an example of explanation towards why there is minimal interest in following an automation and controls type of degree, I know my brother has refused to go that direction for that reason (he is going financial business management something). That’s my stand on the soapbox….

  29. Steve Clark says:

    I worked for ABB Controls Inc. for 10 years as a QC Controls Test tech , that company closed down in 2010 & I have over 5 yrs of experience repairing & troubleshooting on CNC Machines. I really like working in the controls field & I am good at it,,But

    My Question is where are the Automation Controls Jobs at in the US? A large % of these jobs was shipped overseas, due to NAFTA. With the exception of International travel ,,It’s kind of hard to work on controls ,,when the factories are no longer around. These jobs pay well ,, when you can find them. Another thing to keep in mind is you almost have to wait till someone dies to get a job opening due to the high skill level.
    I even have a current pass port and don’t mind flying international. Higher shipping costs due higher fuel prices is the main thing that will bring manufacturing jobs back to the US ,,which will in turn create more Automation Controls jobs.

  30. aeab says:

    Automation is a great sector for Engineering students. Click here for more information on PLC and SCADA Training

  31. Paul Young says:

    I would love to get into the industrial automation industry but, I cannot find a college that has a specific degree program dedicated to the industry. I have not gone to college for engineering and I don’t know if that is necessary. This is the first time I have been on this website so I don’t know if I will be back on it but, if anyone knows anything shoot me an email at paul.young.welding@gmail.com

    • Doug Brock says:

      In the Southeast, Chattanooga State, Middle Tennessee, and Southern Polytechnic all offer controls or mechatronics degrees in 2 or 4 year programs. Look for similar programs in your geographic area if you don’t want to move.

  32. Jon says:

    Great blog post. I actually have worked intentionally over the last few years to get into the field and I have worked several entry positions since I started classes. To shed some light on the situation as I’ve run into it, most of my classmates in electrical engineering fall into one of two categories when we talk about careers, especially in regards to automation. They either haven’t heard of the field (about 70%, ) or they didn’t like controls theory course (50%), there is some overlap. Couple that with a growing number of openingsost times new engineers don’t hear of these jobs before they have accepted other openings.
    In my personal opinion, I really enjoy the work, design about half the time, startups get me out of the desk and in contact with other non engineering minds, and of course the various fire fighting tasks that come with automation. My boss says you have to kind of enjoy hurry up last minute pressure, along with the technical challenge. Most electrical engineers I know would enjoy the job and get a lot out of it, if they have the chance to get introduced to it.

  33. Viraj says:

    I m Viraj gavhane from India. I completed my engineering in Instrumentation and control from pune university in India.I have been working in Automation and control area since june 2012 and i would like continue with it.I got 295 in GRE exam and i want to do my MS from US same field Automation and control. i have lot of question like
    1)So in which area there have great opportunity for Automation and control. Like Texas, Oklahoma. ?
    2)If i complete my Masters from Average university so should i get good job ?
    3)Is better condition for to get Automation and Control in US?

  34. Petar says:

    [Not in US, but Eastern Europe] I actually graduated as Control Engineer and worked in the field for several years, before changing carrier path to software engineer. My reasons (some probably do not apply in all countries):
    – large part of work is indeed in (dirty) industrial environment. Good engineers are present at the commissioning (if not doing it themselves, for smaller projects)
    – due to the above, large part of the work is traveling, mostly to remote locations out of big nice cities (where plants are located); long hours and six week days are common (not that you have much else to do).
    – the only reasonable carrier growth path (besides management) is more and more travel around the globe; becomes quite an issue with family;
    – software engineering offers SIGNIFICANTLY better payment (this may be different in other countries).
    My education was not explicitly about software (obviously), but there was quite a few programming courses and significant amount of coding those simulations (in Matlab, C and ASM); also work with DCS and controllers often required additional coding, which slowly progressed to small, and not so small standalone tools, which made the progress to software engineer almost invisible (what I noticed is that endless travels stopped). Control systems education can also be useful for data scientist and data engineer positions. So the main point for me is even is there are more people educated as control systems engineers, they will often follow different career paths when this offers much better work-life-salary balance. Some control engineers that specialize highly in some specific product (PCS7 leads, etc) may get mythical rates, but so are some specialized software engineers, and for the most part, software engineering offers much better work conditions and many good control engineers are easily convertible to software engineers.

    • Titus says:

      Petar,I like your comments.Maybe it’s not paying in The US and EU just because they the oldest continents(in industrial).So which can be better for us who want to study;Electrical or Automation engineering?

    • John Purevich says:

      Most Controls engineers (Industrial controls) get burned out after a few years.You typically work 6 days week (10-12 hours daily) at a project site,staying in a hotel for months at a time.Many system integrators don’t even pay overtime.The electricians, millwrights who work with you make more because they are unionized.I think Control engineers have the worst work -life balance combined with poor pay.

  35. shivank yadav says:

    Good Evening Gentlemen ,
    I have completed my B.tech in Electrical and Electronics …after which i have done some focus on core industrial aspects and amazingly i found that industry supports only the most advanced along with the traditionally stabled for ex- Electrical concepts are the long time old since the time of Michael faraday or more previously .. but they are still in market because of their requirement ….But nowdays we can see a strong and large leap in implementation of IT in core domain like that of automation industry ……….. But still important question is that when a fresher of engineering has to apply his hardcore effort in industry for his bright career ;;;; will he follow the pursuit of old traditional electrical concept based industry or can go for automation –“If he wanted to orient himself only for money making process ” ,,,,

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