Becoming a Mechatronic Engineer: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of being a mechatronic engineer? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a mechatronic engineer is right for you.
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Pros & Cons of a Career As a Mechatronic Engineer

Mechatronics combines mechanical engineering and electronics. It focuses on the development and manufacture of products such as video cameras, airplanes and automobiles, all of which use mechanical components that are controlled by electronics and computer programs. The following are pros and cons of becoming a mechatronic engineer.

Pros of Becoming a Mechatronic Engineer
Opportunity to work in an emerging field*
Blend of engineering disciplines allows for flexible choice of undergraduate majors (mechanical, electrical, industrial, chemical engineering)**
Work available in a variety of industries (entertainment, manufacturing, R&D)***
Opportunity to build products that help people****

Cons of Becoming a Mechatronic Engineer
Some jobs require an abundance of experience (3-7 years)***
Applicants may need to have a master's degree***
Possibility of a heavy workload (working with different departments, creating models, maintaining files, implementation and testing) ***
Possibility of stress from management and budgetary oversight duties***

Sources: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **San Jose State University, ***Career Builder, ****O*NET OnLine

Job Description and Duties

Mechatronic engineers utilize controls theory, mechanical engineering, and computer science to create products that are both efficient and adaptable. They work with artificial intelligence, industrial systems and smart devices to create, implement and test such systems. They also design safety processes for dangerous activities, such as underwater exploration. An engineer may research the cost, practicality and benefits of the equipment they design.

Salary Info

Mechatronics engineering is closely related to mechanical and electrical engineering, and mechatronics engineers may be classified as either of those. In 2014, the median salary for mechanical engineers was $83,060 per year, while electrical engineers earned a median annual salary of about $91,410, according to the BLS. From 2012-2022, employment opportunities for mechanical engineers were expected to grow five percent and jobs for electrical engineers were projected to grow four percent; both figures are slower than average job growth.

What Are the Requirements?

A Bachelor of Science in Mechatronic Engineering program teaches students about mechanical, computer, and electrical engineering. Courses focus on graphical and oral communicators and how to work within a multi-disciplinary organization. Other coursework may involve digital systems design, physics, circuit analysis, logic design fundamentals and manufacturing processes. Students may want to make sure that their program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Obtaining a Professional Engineering license will also be necessary for employment.

What Employers Are Looking For

Employers want mechatronic engineers who have experience and are familiar with dynamic systems. Some employers also ask that applicants have a Master of Science in mechatronics. The following are examples of job postings from April 2012:

  • A resource group in Connecticut advertised for a mechatronic engineer who could make improvements to their mechatronic modules & systems. These engineers would be required to work in close collaboration with electrical, mechanical and software development teams. The position was expected to require analytical and hands-on involvement in mechanics, mechatronics, material science, electronics and software.
  • An R&D/entertainment/manufacturing company in Sun Valley, CA, advertised for a mechatronic engineer to test, design and implement mechanical, computer and electronic technologies. The position would perform research to gather information for assigned projects, work with outside suppliers and perform tests.
  • An industrial company in Denver, CO, advertised for a senior mechatronics engineer to provide expertise in the design of robotic/automated systems and to manage projects within a research environment. Job duties consisted of identifying improvement opportunities in existing manufacturing and construction processes through mechatronics, robotics and automation technologies.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Individuals with a Master of Science in mechatronics may find better job prospects than those with only a bachelor's degree. Master's coursework could consist of mechatronics modeling, digital signal processing, pattern recognition and electromagnetics. While in school, you could also choose to focus on technical areas such as thermofluid systems, dynamic systems, mechanical design and materials engineering. Experience with robotics or having an international electrical certification could also help with job prospects.

Other Career Paths

Electromechanical Technician

If you would like to pursue a mechatronics career without earning a master's or bachelor's degree, you might consider becoming an electromechanical technician, a career that requires only an associate's degree. Technicians maintain and operate the devices that mechatronic engineers design and create. The median salary in 2010 was $49,550, which is much less than engineers, but still above-average for associate's degree holders, according to the BLS. Employment is expected to remain steady, experiencing only one percent growth between 2010 and 2020; however, technicians specializing in mechatronics are expected to have the best prospects for the few available positions.

Biomedical Engineer

For a cross-disciplinary engineering career with more growth potential, you might consider biomedical engineering. Biomedical engineers design, create and support the technologies of healthcare, including diagnostic instruments, artificial organs and advanced prostheses. An advanced engineering degree in biomedicine is required, but you can also get a graduate certificate in biomedical engineering to supplement an undergraduate degree in a related field such as chemical or materials engineering. The median salary was $81,540 in 2010, and employment is projected to grow by 62% from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS.

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