What does the future hold for robot engineers? From the main job description to the qualifications that will help you change jobs.

2024.02.06

  • Advice for Engineers
ロボットエンジニアの将来性は?主な仕事内容から転職を有利にする資格まで解説

Many people would like to utilize their existing skills and experience, but would like to challenge themselves in a new field from the engineering and IT industry. If you are looking to challenge yourself in a new field while utilizing your experience in the engineering and IT industry, "robotics engineer" is a good choice.

Robotics engineers are already in high demand today, but it is likely that this position will become even more important in the future. Therefore, this article introduces the future of robot engineers, their job description, and qualifications to make a career change more advantageous. If you are interested in becoming a robot engineer, please refer to this article.

What is a robot engineer?


ロボットエンジニアとは?

A robot engineer is a person who is involved in the design and development of robots. Robots come in a wide variety of types.

For example, there are robots that make people's lives more comfortable by helping with household chores and robots that perform tasks that require precision on production lines. Robots that serve food in pubs and family restaurants have also attracted attention.

Robots are used in a wide range of industries, and they are developed by robot engineers. Robot engineers are engineers who understand the problems in each industry and develop robots to solve them.

Future Prospects for Robot Engineers


ロボットエンジニアの将来性

When considering a career change to robotics engineering, many people are concerned about the future. As it turns out, the demand for robot engineers will continue to be high, and the job has a bright future. The reason for this is the advancement of technology and the shortage of labor due to the declining birthrate and aging population.

Robots that could only perform simple mechanical movements in the past are now able to perform autonomous movements by incorporating technologies such as AI. In addition, 5G high-speed communications play an important role in enabling robots to make quick decisions. These technological developments are expected to increase the role of robot engineers.

According to the 2023 Population Projections of Japan released by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the total population is expected to decline from 126.15 million at the time of the 2020 National Tax Survey to 87 million in 50 years' time.

Reference: 国立社会保障・人口問題研究所「日本の将来推計人口(令和5年推計)」結果の概要を公表します

As the total population declines, the working-age population will also decline, and the labor shortage will become even more serious than it is today.

Therefore, robots will play an active role in solving the manpower shortage problem. Furthermore, robots can be expected to not only save labor, but also avoid human error and improve quality uniformity.

Robotics engineer main job description


ロボットエンジニアの主な仕事内容

Robot engineers are basically involved from the stage of formulating robot specifications and applications. Here, we will explain the specifics of their work.

Establishment of robot specifications and applications

Before designing and developing a robot, we first formulate specifications and applications. We basically listen to what problems the client wants us to solve and what tasks they want the robot to perform, and then incorporate these into the robot's specifications. We may also research the market to understand consumer needs and formulate plans based on the survey results.

Once specifications and applications are determined, we define performance indicators and safety standards, and examine the costs of development. The defined and studied contents are shared with all parties concerned, including the client, and then we move on to discussions to determine the appropriateness and feasibility of the project.

Robot design and development

Once the robot specifications, applications, and even specific definitions have been formulated, the next step is design and development. First, we design the robot based on the plan.

We will take into consideration the design, size, and operation of the robot, as well as the selection of materials and the design of detailed components. In addition to the robot itself, software development for controlling the electronic components and movements is generally conducted at the same time.

In addition, design and development are often carried out in separate departments. For example, motors, sensors, control systems, drives, and so on. Each department shares information with the other while proceeding with development, aiming for the completion of the entire project.

Robot experimentation and verification

Once development is complete, we move on to verification to confirm that the system works according to specifications. If the system works according to the specifications and no problems occur, we basically move on to verification testing.

Even if the robot works according to specifications during verification, there is a possibility that it will behave differently at the actual site where the work is performed. For example, if the robot is to be used outdoors, it is necessary to confirm whether it will work in summer and winter, when temperatures are different, and how it will be affected if it gets wet in the rain. Therefore, demonstration tests are indispensable for practical use.

Maintenance and servicing of robots

Robots that have passed the demonstration tests will be put into practical use and utilized in a variety of fields. Although it may seem that the robot engineer's work ends here, in fact, maintenance and servicing is another important part of the robot engineer's job.

Regular maintenance and inspections are necessary to ensure that the robot always performs in a stable manner. On-site visual checks and operation sounds are performed on a daily basis, but checking the status of internal systems and components requires specialized knowledge, which is why robot engineers are in charge of these tasks.

In addition, software and security updates may be required as technology develops. As systems are updated, optimizing them for the robot is another important part of the job.

Skills Required for Robot Engineers


ロボットエンジニアに必要なスキル

If you want to work as a robotics engineer, you will need to learn the necessary skills beforehand. We will explain what specific skills you will need.

Knowledge of robotics

The foundation of a robot engineer's work is knowledge of robotics. Robotics may seem like simply the knowledge to design and develop robots, but it requires knowledge of theory and robotics in a variety of engineering disciplines. For example, you will need knowledge of the following

 

fieldContents
mechanical engineeringIt is the study of mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and material mechanics, which provides knowledge about the mechanisms of machines. It is a fundamental field in robotics, and without an understanding of mechanical engineering, it is difficult to design and develop robots that will operate properly.
Electrical Engineering and ElectronicsThis field of study includes the structure and management of electrical energy, as well as circuit and communication technology. Students can acquire knowledge about sensors and motors that are essential for the operation of robots.
Measurement and Control EngineeringKnowledge of physics is also necessary for a robot to operate properly. Measurement engineering is a field that is utilized for sensor functions to accurately determine the position, length, angle, shape, sound, or any other element of matter. Control engineering is needed to control the behavior of robots based on mathematics and physics.
information engineeringInformation engineering covers both hardware and software to make the robot work. The creation of electronic circuits and the development of control systems also include the field of information engineering.
machine learningMachine learning is utilized to help robots make autonomous decisions. By incorporating an automatic learning mechanism through algorithms, the robot automatically analyzes trends and improves the accuracy of its decisions.

Advanced programming skills

Programming skills are also needed to develop systems that control the robot's movements. The following four languages are commonly used in robot development work.
 

  • Python
  • C
  • C++
  • Java

If you are an experienced IT engineer, you can use your programming skills as an advantage to change jobs to become a robotics engineer. In particular, those who have mastered Python, which is essential for the development of AI and deep learning, and the C language, which is compatible with robot development, will likely have an advantage in their job search.

In some cases, you may be asked to have experience in developing frameworks such as ROS, which supports robot software development. Knowledge of embedded systems and real-time control is also necessary for robot development, so even those who already have programming skills may want to relearn them.

Ideas and imagination

The job of a robot engineer is not simply to build a robot as specified by the client. For example, if we are developing a robot to solve a certain problem, we need to think about how to approach the problem.

If existing methods do not solve the problem, a new approach must be created to solve it. This is where the engineer's ability to think outside the box and be creative comes into play.

In addition, the times are constantly moving forward, and markets and needs are changing. As markets and needs change, so do the needs for robots, so it is important to continue to create new robots. If you have imagination and creativity, you will be able to read the trends of the times and develop robots that are one step ahead of the times.

Knowledge of Mathematics

Mathematics is the foundation of the technology used to design and develop robots. Mathematical knowledge is used for everything from control in robot operation to analysis of data read by sensors.

In addition, when building algorithms for AI and other applications, multiple data are regularly sorted using an algorithm called sorting. There are multiple types of sorting, each of which differs in the time it takes to produce the result of a calculation, memory consumption, and so on. Examining these differences requires knowledge of exponential functions, logarithms, and so on.

Thus, knowledge of mathematics is also an essential skill since it is involved in robot design and development.

language ability

The field of robotics is one in which technology is advanced not only in Japan but also in the world, and new technologies are easily created. In the course of your career as a robot engineer, you may have opportunities to interact with engineers from overseas and read the latest papers. Therefore, it is better to acquire language skills as well to increase your chances of being involved in international collaborative projects.

Although translation functions have been developed in recent years, it may be difficult to translate technical terms. If you have acquired language skills, you can use your own skills to cover for the fact that the translation function does not support technical terms.

English is the recommended language to learn, but the Chinese robotics market is also expanding, so you may want to consider learning Chinese for your future career opportunities.

Qualifications for a career as a robotics engineer


ロボットエンジニアへの転職を有利にする資格

If you are aiming for a career change as a robot engineer, it may be even more advantageous if you acquire qualifications related to the necessary skills also listed above. Although none of these qualifications are required to become a robotics engineer, they are all useful for your job, so if you are considering changing jobs, we encourage you to aim to acquire them.

CAD user engineer test

CAD is used in a wide range of industries such as civil engineering, architecture, and electrical engineering, and is also used by robot engineers when designing robots. Passing the CAD user engineer exam will prove that you have the skills to operate CAD and the knowledge to design robots.

There are two types of CAD user engineer examinations: the 2D CAD examination and the 3D CAD examination. Although the content of the test is more difficult for 3D than for 2D, being able to handle 3D CAD enables you to design in three dimensions and calculate volumes and masses, thereby improving the accuracy of your designs. Therefore, it is advisable to aim to pass the 3D CAD exam if you want to become a robot engineer.

Professional Mechanical Design Engineer

The Mechanical Design Engineer Examination is designed to certify a wide range of knowledge and advanced design skills, from basic to specialized knowledge in the design of machinery. The qualifications are divided into Level 3, Level 2, and Level 1. Anyone can take the exam for Level 3, as there are no exam qualifications. However, please note that Level 2 and Level 1 require work experience as a qualification for taking the exam.

The pass rates for fiscal year 2023 are as follows. Overall, the pass rate is low, falling to 36.4% for Level 1.
 

  • Level 1...36.4% (52 out of 143 test subjects passed)
  • Level 2...40.8% (234 out of 574 test subjects passed)
  • Level 3...47.1% (865 out of 1,838 tested)

It does not mean that you cannot change jobs if you do not obtain the certification to become a robot engineer. However, obtaining this certification will prove that you have expert knowledge of robot structures, principles of operation, characteristics of each material, and especially hardware, which will be an appealing point when you are looking for a new job.

Japan Information Technology Engineers Examination

The Information Technology Engineer Examination is a certification to prove IT-related knowledge and skills. This exam will be a national exam that certifies that the applicant has a certain level of knowledge and skills by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A certain number of people who were originally active in the IT industry will already be certified.

Robotics engineers also need to have knowledge of software. For example, specialized knowledge of embedded systems and databases, as well as programming skills, are also required. Passing the Information Processing Engineer Examination will prove that you have specialized knowledge and skills related to software, and will give you an advantage when you change jobs.

The Information Processing Engineer Examination is a generic term and is classified into 13 different examinations.
 

  • Information Security Management Examination
  • IT Passport Examination
  • Basic Information Technology Engineer Examination
  • Applied Information Technology Engineer Examination
  • IT Strategist Examination
  • System Architect Examination
  • Project Manager Examination
  • Network Specialist Examination
  • Database Specialist Examination
  • Embedded Systems Specialist exam
  • IT Service Manager Examination
  • System Audit Engineer Examination
  • Information Technology Security Assistance Specialist Examination

The Applied Information Technology Engineer Examination, in particular, includes not only programming, but also embedded systems, databases, and network-related topics, allowing candidates to demonstrate their knowledge in a wide range of areas.

Chief Electrical Engineer

The chief electrical engineer examination is a certification recognized as a supervisor of construction work in electrical facilities. The chief electrical engineer exam qualifies a person to be a security supervisor at facilities where electrical equipment is installed, such as power plants, substations, receiving facilities in factories and buildings, and wiring.

The examinations are divided into Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3, each of which is characterized by the different voltages that can be handled. If you become a Type 1, you will be able to handle all commercial electrical facilities.

To pass the chief electrical engineer examination, one must have specialized knowledge and skills in electrical engineering. Robots also handle many electronic components and sensors. This is a good exam to show that you have a deep understanding of electrical engineering.

English Technical Writing Test

The Technical English Proficiency Test (Technical English Proficiency Test) is a certification that objectively evaluates the ability to read and write scientific and technical documents. Unlike most English language qualifications, the Technical English Proficiency Test requires English language skills specialized in the fields of science and engineering. For this reason, it is one of the most difficult English language qualifications, with the pass rate for Level 1 being around 5-6%.

Robot engineers are likely to communicate with overseas engineers and researchers and read foreign papers. Obtaining a Technical English Proficiency Test will not only be useful in practical work, but will also give you an advantage in your job search at companies that have many overseas transactions and exchanges.

Summary: Change careers to become a robotics engineer, where demand will continue to grow.


まとめ:今後も需要の広がりをみせるロボットエンジニアに転職しよう

In this issue, we have introduced the future of robot engineers, their job descriptions, and the qualifications that will help them change jobs. It can be predicted that robot engineers will become more and more active in the future due to technological advances and the elimination of labor shortage problems.

If you are interested in becoming a robot engineer, try searching for jobs at "UNITED WORLD". UNITED WORLD" introduces global jobs in a wide range of industries and job types, including startups and foreign companies. One-on-one support from a dedicated career advisor is also available for those seeking a career as a robotics engineer.

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