Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, 5G, optical engineering, and robotics are playing an increasingly important role in our society. As we move deeper into the fourth industrial revolution, the demand for roles like mechatronics engineers is growing, making it a good career choice for technically inclined individuals.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in mechatronics, read on to learn what a mechatronics engineer does, how much money they make, and the steps required to succeed in the field.
What do mechatronics engineers do?
Mechatronics is a specific branch of engineering that brings together mechanical, electrical, computer, and robotics engineering to connect disparate stages of design and production processes into a single, streamlined system.
Mechatronics engineers leverage their expertise in these fields to develop and maintain smart technologies. Mechatronics engineers can work in many industries, but most work in manufacturing, which has become increasingly automated in recent years. Often, the systems worked on by mechatronics engineers directly support the automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, and industrial goods industries.
Mechatronics engineers perform a wide variety of duties, depending on their specific organization and industry.
Some of the more common responsibilities include:
- Identifying opportunities to streamline operations or workflows through automation or integration with other systems
- Designing and testing prototypes of mechatronic devices for internal use of the organization
- Designing and testing product prototypes with the intent of selling to a consumer
- Troubleshooting and supporting various mechatronic systems and devices that exist within the organization
- Developing computer-driven systems and controls for use within the organization, such as a warehouse control system (WCS), enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and various sensing and control systems
- Conducting feasibility studies to understand the potential ROI of various mechatronic solutions and implementing these solutions successfully
Salary of a Mechatronics Engineer
According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary of a mechatronics engineer in the United States is $72,323. However, an individual’s salary can be impacted by multiple factors, including location, industry, organization size, and level of experience.
Learn More: How Much Do Mechatronics Engineers Make?
How to Become a Mechatronics Engineer
1. Earn a relevant degree.
While in the past, it may have been possible to “fall into” the field of mechatronics without a degree, most of today’s employers only consider applicants who hold a related bachelor’s degree. Simply put, if you are interested in becoming a mechatronics engineer, then your first step to reaching that goal will be to earn a degree that will prepare you for the job.
Many mechatronics engineers start their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree in either mechanical or electrical engineering. Then, they gain knowledge of other engineering disciplines throughout their careers, moving serendipitously toward mechatronics along the way. Though this is a viable path, it isn’t the most efficient way of breaking into the field.
Today, it’s possible to complete a bachelor of science in mechatronics engineering to gain the specific knowledge and skills employers look for when hiring mechatronics engineers. Earning a specialized degree can make it much easier to start your career.
“For example, our bachelor’s of science in mechatronics program has been developed in close cooperation with leading experts and organizations specializing in areas related to the fourth industrial revolution,” says Krassimir Marchev, PhD, professor of practice for Northeastern’s Bachelor of Science in Mechatronics program.
Enrolling in a dedicated mechatronics program positions future mechatronics engineers to advance their careers quickly. These programs do not focus on only one branch of engineering but instead expose students to multiple engineering disciplines, all of which impact mechatronic devices and systems.
“We provide students with the essential interdisciplinary engineering skillset which will enable their successful careers in a broad range of engineering disciplines, including mechatronics, robotics, and automation,” Marchev says.
Earning an advanced degree, such as a master of science in robotics, can also prove an effective means of advancing within the field.
2. Gain experience.
According to Marchev, experience is one of the most important factors that employers consider when making a hire—regardless of which specific degree an applicant holds.
An applicant who holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering, but who has years of experience working on mechatronics systems, for example, may prove a more appealing hire than someone who holds a mechatronics degree with no experience. This means that choosing a degree that will offer you the opportunity to gain real, hands-on experience should be a crucial piece of your selection process.
“Our faculty members have extensive industrial experience and they bring a lot of practical knowledge to the classroom,” Marchev says. “So when we teach something, we don’t teach just theories. We teach students how to apply what they learn, allowing their skills to become so much more powerful.”
In addition to looking for a program that features faculty who have actually worked within the industry, it’s also important to seek programs that offer internships, co-ops, and other forms of experiential learning so that you can begin building your resumé while you complete your degree. At Northeastern, mechatronics students have the opportunity to engage in experiential learning opportunities at market-leading manufacturing companies in the Boston area, including GE Aviation, Brooks Automation, and Teradyne.
3. Seek out opportunities for deep and continuous learning.
In some fields, it’s possible to get by with a cursory understanding of the subject matter that underlies the profession. This is simply not the case in mechatronics.
New technologies are being developed every year, and many of them have the potential for use in mechatronic components, products, or systems. In order to remain effective and relevant, mechatronic engineers need to develop and maintain a deep, critical understanding of the branches of engineering impacting their work.
“We teach our students not to memorize the most recent technologies, but to understand them deeply in order to apply them in their everyday jobs,” Marchev says. “We teach students today to be able to respond to market needs that will emerge in three, four, or five years—because the market is moving forward so quickly.”
Getting Started in Mechatronics Engineering
Mechatronics engineers bring together an understanding of multiple branches of engineering in order to build and work with the technologies and systems that will propel our society into the future. It’s a rewarding career that brings job sustainability and a competitive salary but requires deep expertise and experience.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in mechatronics, take the next step by learning more about Northeastern’s Bachelor of Science in Mechatronics, and see how advancing your education can help you reach your goals.