Robotics Programmer: Degrees, Careers & Salary

Oct 20, 2021

What Does a Robotics Programmer Do?

Interested in learning how to become a robot programmer? Robotics programmers create code and software that allows robots to function. They are often at the cutting edge of new technology. However, many existing machines also require programming and routine updates that robotics and programming experts may assist with. Another important job that these experts often have is developing computer programming languages for robotics. These are specific kinds of computational code that can allow robots to complete tasks and even learn. Robotics engineers are similar to robotics programmers, and they create everything from floor cleaning machines to articulated limbs for amputees.

robotics programmer education requirements begin at the bachelor

Robotics Programmer Education

If you want to learn how to get into robotics programming, you will need to understand the education requirements of this profession. At the four year bachelor's level, students get a foundational knowledge of electrical circuitry, engineering and computer programming. Courses may include calculus, mechatronics and probability. Master's degree students spend a year to 18 months working to advance their skills through a combination of coursework and hands-on projects. Students devise and execute a robotics projects that meets a real-world need. Students can be admitted to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program with a bachelor's or a master's degree in a relevant field. Doctoral programs take 4-5 years to complete and are primarily focused on research in an area chosen by the student. This generally includes a thesis project. Coursework may cover topics such as artificial intelligence or ethical issues in robotics.

Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering

A Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, with a specialization in robotics, teaches students about electrical circuitry, mechanical engineering and programming languages. Students learn to plan, build, wire and program physical machines, teaching a binary code-based system to make subtle movements. Undergraduate degree programs in robotics include coursework from computer, electrical and mechanical engineering as well as software programming. Other majors that may be applicable for future robotics programmers include mathematics, electrical engineering, computer science, industrial design, and communications. Coursework in these programs is designed to give students an overview of all elements of robotics, preparing students to specialize in further studies. Core coursework may include:

  • Calculus
  • Electric circuits
  • Mechatronics: how electrical engineering works
  • Probability: this can help you understand how machines think
  • Programming languages: the history and development of programming languages and how to use them

Master's Degree in Robotics

In addition to being taught the fundamentals of the elements of robotics, graduate students are expected to take the lead in creating a project with a real-world application. Examples of previous master's level focused study projects include tactile physical therapy for stroke victims and smart wheelchairs. Graduate programs are designed to teach students everything from entrepreneurship to designing software systems. Degree titles may vary: you may get a master's degree in computer engineering, artificial intelligence, communication technology, advanced mechatronics systems, or even nanotechnology. Commonly offered courses include:

  • Artificial intelligence: understanding neural networks and other kinds of computer learning systems
  • Entrepreneurship: innovation is an important part of the robotics process
  • Engineering mathematics: how to design and build robots
  • Machine perception: how computers understand and process information
  • Programming and architecture: architecture in this case meaning digital architecture

Doctoral Degree in Robotics

Doctoral students in robotics learn to plan and account for variables in creating robots with artificial intelligence. Ph.D. students think up and work on thesis projects, like tiny robots to give cardiac surgeons better access to the beating heart, thus making heart surgery less invasive. Robotics doctoral programs allow students to focus classroom studies on a specific area of interest, like visual perception and unguided navigation, and individual student schedules are organized to complement work done on a given robotics thesis. As students are admitted with undergraduate or graduate degrees, some of the courses available in doctorate level robotics programs cover work taught at the master's level, such as information architecture. Programs offer such courses as:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Computer vision: a more advanced form of machine perception
  • Statistics: data analysis, machine learning algorithms, algorithmic bias, and more
  • Programming languages: at this level, you may design your own languages
  • Robotic ethics: robot-human relations, job loss, privacy, security, and even future issues like robot rights

Popular Careers in Robotics Programming

Though many graduates from bachelor level robotics tracks continue their education at the master's and doctoral level, others decide to go directly into the workforce. Career options for graduates of bachelor degree programs include:

  • Controls and robotics specialist
  • Robotics engineer
  • Robotics research assistant
  • Robotics technical representative
  • Robotics technician
  • Robot operator
  • Coding specialist

With a Ph.D. in robotics, graduates may find employment opportunities in computer technology, military research and biotechnology research. Within these fields, private high-tech companies, think tanks, government organizations and universities hire doctoral program graduates in positions like:

  • Robotics professor
  • Assistant professor
  • Electro-mechanical engineer
  • Research scientist
  • Robotics engineer
  • Software engineer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Now that you understand how to learn robotics programming, you may be wondering how much money robotics programmers are likely to make. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that for the years 2019 through 2029, all computer occupations may grow 11% ( These workers made the median annual wages of $86,550 in May 2019.

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