Select almost any industry, anywhere. Automation + control technologies are not only part of that industry, but, from plastics to cars, they are critical to production. Instruments and control systems measure, analyze, and manipulate factors such as temperature, flow, pressure, level, velocity, and composition in a variety of manufacturing, scientific, and technical applications. Men and women who specialize in automation + control conceive, design, build, operate, and maintain these vital systems. As a student considering this field, you have an immense array of choices. The preparation you make now is an exciting first step toward your professional future.
While the opportunities are far too numerous to list, most automation + control jobs fall into one of four general categories:
Engineering and Design
Automation + control professionals in these positions research, design, build, and operate various systems and instruments to measure, control, and automate manufacturing processes. These jobs are vital to companies that manufacture products such as chemicals, paper, and automobiles, as well as to companies that manufacture instruments and in educational institutions. Some typical job titles include:
Control Systems Engineer (CSE)
Control systems engineers make sure that the measurement hardware a company uses conforms to standard engineering guidelines and practices. They must understand both measurement and control systems and the manufacturing processes that are controlled by those systems. They also have to know how to put together workable systems and how to solve problems. A CSE serves as the key person on a measurement design and operation team and often supervises and reviews the team's efforts to ensure that the processes are safe and practical.
Instrument Technologist/Designer Supervisor
This professional usually works in the area of engineering design. He or she supervises high-level system design teams, directing these teams of designers and specialists as they develop and document manufacturing, measurement, or control systems.
Companies rely on automation + control professionals to advise and assist clients and customers on the application, purchase, installation, and maintenance of available products and systems to improve the efficiency, output, and safety of manufacturing and industrial processing operations. Jobs offered by these companies include:
Instrument Sales/Marketing Representative
A sales/marketing representative calls on distributors, end users, and engineering consulting firms and explains product features. To help clients select and use the hardware and software, the representative must understand the user' needs and the capabilities of the equipment. He or she must also be able to relate well to engineers and managers.
Region Sales Manager
Develops training presentations to educate the sales force and distributors on products, markets and business strategies. Provides pre/post sales assistance to organizations and distributors on strategic accounts. Participates in trade shows.
Automation + control professionals interested in management career paths rise to leading positions throughout the numerous manufacturing and industrial processing sectors of the global economy. Some typical job titles include:
Business Development Manager
Analyzes products, distribution, pricing, and strategies to better position products in the industrial market. Develops new marketing documentation materials - catalogs, literature, advertising, success stories, newsletters and news releases.
A project manager interacts with professional staff in strategic planning, project management, instrumentation engineering, IA/IT maintenance and integration. Skills in managing multidisciplinary teams that research, design, and implement end to end solutions, using state of the art technology in line with the client's business goals is required.
An instrument supervisor is usually an experienced instrument technician who supervises the work of a team of instrument specialists. In addition to mechanical ability and leadership skills, the supervisor must understand the entire system or process operation for which the team is responsible.
Engineering and Maintenance Technicians
Engineering and maintenance technicians play key roles in installing, maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing various components of automation + control systems. Some typical job titles include: