How to Become an Automation Technician (Wiring for Wins)

how to become an automation technician

If you’ve ever dreamed of building systems that streamline operations or wondered what it takes to become an automation technician, you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll explore the EXACT steps you need to take to launch your career as an automation technician. We’ll discuss:

  • The skills you need.
  • The education that can support your ambitions.
  • How to secure a job as an automation technician.

So, whether you’re a newcomer to technology or an experienced individual wanting to advance, stay tuned.

We’re about to unveil the roadmap to becoming an automation technician.

Let’s get started!

Contents show

Steps to Become an Automation Technician


Step 1: Understand the Role of an Automation Technician

The first and most crucial step in pursuing a career as an Automation Technician is understanding what the role entails.

Automation Technicians are responsible for troubleshooting, maintaining, and improving automated systems within a manufacturing or industrial environment.

They work with complex machinery and equipment, including programmable logic controllers, robotic systems, and other automated manufacturing equipment.

Automation Technicians often work in teams to develop and implement automation solutions that increase efficiency and reduce errors.

Their job requires a keen understanding of mechanical processes, electrical systems, computer programming, and industrial software applications.

They must also have excellent problem-solving skills, as they are responsible for identifying and resolving system malfunctions.

Other duties may include conducting regular maintenance checks, replacing or repairing faulty equipment, and documenting all automation-related activities.

Understanding the role and its requirements will help you determine if this is the right career path for you.

It can also provide you with an idea of what areas you need to focus on in your education and training.


Step 2: Obtain a Technical Educational Foundation

To further enhance your career prospects as an Automation Technician, it’s recommended to pursue formal education in the technical field.

This could be in the form of a diploma or degree in automation technology, mechanical or electrical engineering, or related disciplines.

The coursework for these programs would typically cover subjects such as electricity and electronics, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), industrial automation, robotics, and process control.

It’s beneficial to gain an understanding of these concepts as they form the base of the automation industry.

While in school, consider focusing on practical applications of what you learn, as this career often involves hands-on work.

Participate in lab sessions, internships, or co-op placements that allow you to put theory into practice, understand machines, and get a real-world experience of the job.

It is also valuable to gain knowledge of computer programming languages and software utilized in automation, as these skills will equip you to handle sophisticated automation systems.

Remember, education is an ongoing process, and even after securing a job, continuous learning and staying updated with the latest developments in automation technology will help you progress in your career.


Step 3: Gain Proficiency in Automation Technologies

As an Automation Technician, you are expected to be proficient in a wide range of automation technologies.

This includes knowledge in industrial control systems, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Distributed Control Systems (DCS), SCADA systems, and knowledge of different sensors and actuators.

To gain proficiency, consider undertaking relevant courses or certifications that specifically focus on these areas.

Manufacturers of these systems often provide training courses, and many community colleges offer programs specifically designed for automation technology.

Practical experience is key in understanding these systems, so consider working on projects or internships that allow you hands-on experience.

Understanding programming is also essential as automation systems are predominantly controlled by software.

Languages such as Ladder Logic, Structured Text, and Instruction List are commonly used in automation, so familiarity with these is a major advantage.

Keep up-to-date with the latest trends in automation technology.

The field is constantly evolving, and emerging technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are increasingly being incorporated in automation systems.

Lastly, develop a strong understanding of industrial safety standards and regulations.

Automation systems are often used in environments with strict safety requirements, so knowing these standards is crucial to designing and maintaining safe and effective systems.


Step 4: Learn Programming Languages Relevant to Automation

As an automation technician, having knowledge of programming languages that are often used in the automation industry is crucial.

These languages may include but are not limited to: Ladder Logic, Structured Text, Instruction List, Sequential Function Charts, and Function Block Diagram.

Each language has its own usage and benefits.

For example, Ladder Logic is widely used and accepted in industrial automation, while Structured Text is similar to high-level programming languages and often used for complex tasks.

You can learn these languages through various methods.

Online courses, community colleges, and technical institutes offer classes in programming.

Additionally, there are many self-study resources available, such as textbooks, online tutorials, and programming practice websites.

When learning, try to incorporate practical exercises and real-world examples into your study routine.

This will not only help you understand the concepts better but will also give you hands-on experience which is vital in this field.

After gaining proficiency in these languages, consider getting certified.

Many organizations offer certification programs for these languages, which can boost your credibility and increase your job prospects.

Remember, learning programming languages is not a one-time task, but a continuous process.

With the constant advancements in technology, it is crucial to keep yourself updated and adapt to new languages and techniques as they emerge.


Step 5: Acquire Practical Skills through Vocational Training or Workshops

As an Automation Technician, you will need to have a strong hands-on experience with various automation equipment and systems.

This can be achieved through vocational training or workshops that are focused on automation technologies.

These training programs can offer you the opportunity to work directly with different types of automated systems, such as robotic manufacturing equipment, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and automated testing systems.

This can help you understand how these systems work, how to install them, troubleshoot any problems, and keep them functioning efficiently.

In addition to gaining experience with these systems, you will also learn how to interpret technical diagrams, use a variety of testing equipment, and understand safety procedures related to working with automated equipment.

Furthermore, attending industry-specific workshops can provide you with the latest knowledge and trends in automation technology.

These workshops can also give you the chance to network with professionals in the field, which can be beneficial for your future career prospects.

Remember, the more practical experience you gain, the better prepared you will be to handle the real-world challenges that can arise in the automation industry.

Therefore, take every opportunity to learn and apply your skills practically.


Step 6: Pursue an Associate Degree or Certification in Automation Technology

To qualify for more advanced roles as an Automation Technician, an associate degree or certification in automation technology, robotics, or a related field is highly recommended.

Having formal education in this area will give you a solid foundation in the principles of automation and control systems, preparing you for a successful career.

Many community colleges and technical schools offer degree programs and certifications in automation technology.

These programs often include coursework in digital electronics, industrial automation, robotics, programmable logic controllers, and electromechanical devices.

The skills you learn can be directly applied to a variety of industries, including manufacturing, energy, and more.

While pursuing your degree or certification, you will also have the opportunity to work on projects that simulate real-world situations.

These practical experiences will help you gain confidence in your ability to design, install, and maintain automation systems.

Additionally, many of these programs offer internship opportunities where you can gain hands-on experience and make valuable industry connections.

Remember, the field of automation is continually evolving, so it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest technologies and industry trends.

This can be achieved by attending workshops, webinars, or pursuing additional certifications after you’ve obtained your degree.

It’s also recommended to join professional organizations and online communities where you can network with other professionals in the field and stay informed about job opportunities and advancements in the industry.


Step 7: Gain Hands-On Experience with Internships or Entry-Level Positions

As an aspiring Automation Technician, it’s crucial to gain practical experience in the field.

This can be achieved through internships or entry-level positions.

These opportunities will give you a chance to put your theoretical knowledge into practice and develop your skills in a real-world setting.

Internships offer an invaluable opportunity to work under the guidance of experienced automation technicians.

You will get a chance to work on various projects involving industrial control systems, automated machinery, robotics, and other similar systems.

This will not only give you a deep understanding of the work but also expose you to the challenges and issues that are common in the industry.

An entry-level position is another great way to develop practical skills.

You may start as an assistant or a trainee and progressively take up more complex tasks as you gain experience.

Working in an entry-level position helps you to understand the day-to-day operations and maintenance procedures involved in the automation industry.

In both cases, you will get a chance to network with professionals in the field, which can be beneficial for future job opportunities.

Remember, the more experience you gain, the more desirable you become to potential employers.


Step 8: Develop Troubleshooting and Problem-Solving Skills

As an automation technician, you’ll encounter a variety of technical problems that need immediate solutions.

These problems may arise in an industrial setting where equipment malfunctions or breaks down, or in a software setting where automation programs or systems fail to operate as intended.

Developing strong troubleshooting and problem-solving skills is crucial in these instances, as it allows you to quickly diagnose the issue and implement a suitable solution.

Familiarize yourself with the common problems and errors associated with the automation systems you’re working with.

Understand the principles of their operation, their common failure modes, and how to fix them.

Continually hone your problem-solving skills by studying complex problems and how they were resolved.

You can also practice troubleshooting by working on real-world projects and case studies.

This will not only help you understand how to approach a problem, but also help you think critically and creatively when faced with a unique issue.

Remember, in many scenarios, time is of the essence, so being efficient with your problem-solving process is essential.

In addition, consider attending workshops or obtaining certifications that focus on troubleshooting and problem-solving.

These can provide you with additional skills and knowledge, making you more proficient in handling technical issues related to automation.

This would also make you a valuable asset to your employer and can enhance your career progression opportunities.

Remember, problem-solving is a continuous learning process; the more problems you solve, the better you become at it.

Hence, always stay curious, patient, and persistent.


Step 9: Stay Current with Industry Developments and Certifications

As an Automation Technician, it’s critical to stay updated with the latest developments in the industry.

New technologies, tools, and methods are constantly emerging, which could enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of automated systems.

Subscribe to industry journals, join professional organizations, and attend industry conferences and workshops to stay informed about the latest trends and technologies.

Furthermore, consider pursuing additional certifications.

Various organizations offer certifications in fields like robotics, industrial automation, and programmable logic controllers (PLCs), among others.

These certifications not only provide you with in-depth knowledge of the subject but also validate your skills to potential employers.

Continuous learning and improvement are key in the automation field.

By staying current with industry developments and earning relevant certifications, you can ensure you’re prepared to tackle any challenges that come your way and advance in your career.


Step 10: Build a Portfolio of Your Work and Projects

As an Automation Technician, having a portfolio of your work can be a valuable resource when pursuing career advancement or seeking new opportunities.

This portfolio should showcase your experience, skills, and understanding of automation systems.

Firstly, include any projects you’ve worked on that demonstrate your skills and knowledge in automation technology.

These can range from small, simple projects like programming a PLC, to larger, more complex ones like designing and implementing an entire automated system.

Be sure to include detailed descriptions of each project, including the challenges faced, the solutions implemented, and the results achieved.

Secondly, if you’ve developed any unique techniques or processes, include these in your portfolio as well.

This could be anything from a custom script you wrote to automate a repetitive task, to a unique maintenance procedure you developed to increase system uptime.

Include any certifications or relevant training courses you’ve completed.

This shows your commitment to continuous learning and professional development in the field of automation technology.

Finally, your portfolio should also include testimonials or references from previous employers, clients, or colleagues.

These testimonials can attest to your skills, work ethic, and achievements in the field of automation.

Remember, the goal of your portfolio is to highlight your skills, experience, and achievements in the field of automation.

It’s not just about showing what you’ve done, but also demonstrating your problem-solving abilities, your understanding of automation systems, and your commitment to continuous learning and improvement.


Step 11: Network with Industry Professionals and Join Professional Associations

As an Automation Technician, it’s crucial to connect with other professionals in your industry and become an active member in professional associations.

This can not only help you to stay updated on the latest trends, technologies, and methods in automation but can also open up opportunities for career advancement.

Networking can lead to job opportunities, mentorships, or collaborations that you might not find otherwise.

Professional organizations such as the International Society of Automation (ISA), the Automation Federation, or the Robotics Industries Association (RIA) can offer opportunities for training, certification, and networking.

These associations often host events, conferences, and webinars, providing platforms for professionals to connect and share their experiences, ideas, and challenges.

In addition, joining professional forums and online groups like LinkedIn groups focused on automation technology can also be beneficial.

Here, you can participate in discussions, ask questions, and share your knowledge, helping you stay engaged and updated in your field.

Remember, networking is not just about taking, but also giving.

Share your insights, help others, and be an active participant.

This will make you a valuable member of your professional community, which could lead to exciting new opportunities in your career as an Automation Technician.


Step 12: Apply for Jobs in Automation and Seek Career Advancement Opportunities

After obtaining the necessary qualifications and gaining hands-on experience, begin applying for jobs in the automation industry.

Look for positions that match your skills and interests, such as Automation Technician, Automation Engineer, or Controls Technician.

These roles can be found in various industries including manufacturing, automotive, food processing, and pharmaceutical companies among others.

When applying, make sure your resume is up to date and highlights your automation skills, certifications, and work experience in detail.

Tailor your cover letter for each job application to show your interest in the role and the company, and to highlight how your skills and experience make you a good fit.

After getting a job, continue to seek career advancement opportunities.

This could be in the form of taking on larger projects, seeking promotions, or continuing your education to specialize in a certain area of automation.

Also, stay updated with the latest trends and technology in automation as the industry is constantly evolving.

This will not only make you a valuable asset to your company but also present you with new opportunities for career growth.

Networking with other professionals in the field can also open doors for advancement.

Attend industry conferences, participate in online forums and professional organizations related to automation.

This can help you learn from others, gain new insights, and establish connections that can lead to new opportunities.


Automation Technician Roles and Responsibilities

Automation Technicians are responsible for the installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of automated systems.

They have a strong understanding of electronics, mechanics, and computer programming.

They have the following roles and responsibilities:


Installation and Maintenance

  • Install, program, and maintain automated systems and equipment.
  • Perform preventive and corrective maintenance on automation systems.
  • Ensure the automated systems are operating at maximum efficiency.


Troubleshooting and Repair

  • Analyze and troubleshoot automation systems and subsystems.
  • Resolve issues that occur during the operation of automated systems.
  • Repair and replace faulty components of automated systems.



  • Program and reprogram the logic controllers of automated systems.
  • Update automation software and systems as required.
  • Use computer-based diagnostics to troubleshoot automation equipment.



  • Test automated systems and equipment for proper functioning.
  • Perform tests after repair or maintenance work to ensure proper operation.
  • Document test results and maintain testing records.



  • Document installation procedures, maintenance activities, and repair work.
  • Maintain inventory of spare parts and equipment.



  • Collaborate with engineers and other technicians to design and implement automated systems.
  • Work closely with production staff to understand and fulfill their automation needs.


Safety Compliance

  • Ensure compliance with safety regulations in all installation, repair, and maintenance activities.
  • Conduct regular safety checks on automated systems.


Continuous Learning

  • Keep up-to-date with advancements in automation technology.
  • Attend training sessions and workshops to improve skills and knowledge.



  • Communicate effectively with team members, managers, and clients.
  • Report on the status of automation systems, problems encountered, and repairs completed.


What Does an Automation Technician Do?

Automation Technicians are typically employed by manufacturing or industrial companies, where they maintain and improve automated equipment and processes.

They are experts in programmable logic controllers (PLCs), robotics, and other automated systems, and spend a great deal of their time troubleshooting and repairing this equipment when it malfunctions.

They regularly monitor the performance of these systems, making adjustments and improvements as needed to enhance efficiency and productivity.

Automation Technicians also assist with designing and implementing new automated systems.

They work closely with engineers and other technical personnel to ensure the new automation adheres to safety standards and improves the production process.

Additionally, Automation Technicians are often responsible for training other personnel in the operation and maintenance of automated systems, helping to ensure smooth and continued production.

In the event of a system failure, the Automation Technician is usually the first line of response, responsible for diagnosing and rectifying the issue.


Essential Automation Technician Skills

  • Technical Skills: Automation Technicians must have a solid understanding of electrical, mechanical and computer systems. They should also be proficient in using various tools and equipment needed in the automation process.
  • Problem-solving: This role often involves identifying and rectifying malfunctions in automated systems. The ability to analyze issues and develop effective solutions is crucial.
  • Programming Languages: Knowledge of programming languages, especially those used in automation such as Ladder Logic, Structured Text, and Function Block Diagram is essential.
  • Automation Systems: Proficiency in working with different types of automation systems, including Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs), and robotics is a must.
  • Understanding of Industrial Processes: Automation Technicians should understand the processes they’re automating, including production lines, manufacturing processes, and industrial systems.
  • Circuitry: Understanding circuit designs and being able to troubleshoot electrical issues is an important skill for automation technicians.
  • Maintenance and Repair: Regular system maintenance and timely repairs are part of the job. Technicians should be capable of performing preventive maintenance and diagnosing system failures.
  • Communication: Automation Technicians often work in teams and have to communicate with other engineers, operators, and managers. Good verbal and written communication skills are important.
  • Adaptability: Technology and processes in automation can change rapidly. The ability to learn and adapt to new systems and technologies is key.
  • Attention to Detail: Technicians must pay close attention to detail to ensure all parts of an automated system function correctly and safely.
  • Safety Practices: Familiarity with safety practices is vital, as technicians often work with high-voltage systems and heavy machinery.
  • Project Management: Knowledge of project management principles can be beneficial in overseeing the installation of new systems and upgrades to existing ones.
  • Teamwork: Collaborating effectively within a team, sharing knowledge, and contributing to the overall success of projects is critical.


Automation Technician Career Path Progression

The Foundation: Junior Automation Technician

The first step on your career path is usually the role of a Junior Automation Technician.

In this position, you’ll be learning the ropes of automation systems, gaining hands-on experience, and assisting on smaller projects.

Here are some tips to succeed in this role:

  1. Learn Continuously: Stay updated with the latest automation technologies and systems.
  2. Seek Guidance: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from senior colleagues and learn from their experiences.
  3. Be Proactive: Take ownership of your tasks and always show eagerness to learn more.


The Ascent: Automation Technician

After gaining some experience and confidence, you’ll move up to the Automation Technician role.

Your responsibilities will increase, and you’ll be expected to work on more complex systems, make minor modifications, and assist in the development of automation strategies.

Here’s how to thrive in this stage:

  1. Problem-Solving: Hone your problem-solving skills by tackling complex automation issues and optimizing systems for efficiency.
  2. Teamwork: Collaborate effectively with your team and other stakeholders.
  3. Quality Assurance: Ensure the quality and reliability of automation systems by adhering to best practices and standards.


Reaching New Heights: Senior Automation Technician

The next stage of your career is the position of a Senior Automation Technician.

You will be seen as an expert in your field and will be responsible for guiding less experienced team members, planning and implementing automation strategies, and ensuring systems are running optimally.

To excel as a Senior Automation Technician:

  1. Mentorship: Share your knowledge and help junior technicians grow.
  2. Strategic Planning: Think beyond individual systems and consider the larger automation strategies.
  3. Leadership: Inspire others with your work ethic and problem-solving abilities, and lead by example.


Beyond the Horizon: Automation Engineer and Beyond

As you continue to develop your skills and expertise, you may choose to become an Automation Engineer, Automation Manager or a Consultant.

These roles involve greater responsibilities, leadership, and strategic decision-making.

Here’s what to focus on:

  1. Technical Leadership: Take the lead on technical initiatives and shape the direction of your projects and teams.
  2. Management Skills: If you transition into management, develop your leadership and communication skills to manage your team effectively.
  3. Innovation: Keep up with the latest trends in automation technology and continually innovate.


Pinnacle of Success: Director of Automation or VP of Automation Engineering

At the top of the automation technician career ladder, you might find yourself in roles like Director of Automation or VP of Automation Engineering.

In these positions, you’ll be responsible for shaping the overall automation strategy of the organization, making critical decisions, and leading large teams.


Automation Technician Salary

Entry-Level Automation Technician

  • Median Salary: $40,000 – $60,000 per year
  • Entry-level automation technicians typically have 0-2 years of experience and may have associate’s degrees in automation technology or related fields. They focus on learning the basics of maintaining and troubleshooting automation systems.


Mid-Level Automation Technician

  • Median Salary: $60,000 – $80,000 per year
  • Mid-level automation technicians have 2-5 years of experience and often take on more complex responsibilities, such as improving automation systems and dealing with more advanced technical issues.


Senior Automation Technician

  • Median Salary: $80,000 – $110,000 per year
  • Senior automation technicians possess 5+ years of experience and are responsible for leading projects, making decisions on automation strategies, and mentoring junior technicians.


Automation Engineer / Automation Manager

  • Median Salary: $90,000 – $140,000+ per year
  • These roles require significant experience and often involve managing automation projects, making critical decisions on automation strategies, and overseeing a team of technicians.


Principal Automation Engineer / Technical Director of Automation

  • Median Salary: $120,000 – $180,000+ per year
  • These high-level positions require extensive experience, deep technical expertise in automation technology, and often involve setting automation strategies for a company.


Automation Technician Work Environment

Automation Technicians typically work in industrial and manufacturing settings, including factories, power plants, automotive industries, food processing plants, and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities.

They may also work for engineering firms and automation system vendors.

Their job may require them to work on the production floor where they deal with various automated machinery and systems.

This can involve being in noisy environments, and sometimes working in shifts, including nights and weekends, based on the operational hours of the facility.

Automation Technicians often work in teams consisting of engineers, other technicians, and operators.

Their work might require them to stand for long periods, and they may also have to handle heavy equipment.

Safety is a paramount concern in the Automation Technician’s work environment, so they are typically required to wear protective gear such as hard hats, safety glasses, and steel-toed boots.

With experience and further training, Automation Technicians may progress to supervisory roles or specialize in a particular type of automation technology.


FAQs About Becoming an Automation Technician

What is needed to become an Automation Technician?

Becoming an Automation Technician typically requires a technical degree or certificate in areas such as electronics, automation technology, or a related field.

Key skills include an understanding of automated systems, proficiency with PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), ability to troubleshoot and repair machinery, and mechanical aptitude.

You should also be familiar with industrial software, robotics, and control systems.

Additionally, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work under pressure are crucial for this role.


How long does it take to become an Automation Technician?

The time to become an Automation Technician can vary depending on your educational path and experience.

If you pursue a traditional two-year associate degree in automation technology or a related field, you can generally start your career immediately after graduation.

However, some roles may require additional certifications or a bachelor’s degree, which may extend the time.

Practical experience gained through internships or on-the-job training can also be beneficial in becoming an Automation Technician.


Can I become an Automation Technician without a degree?

Yes, it is possible to become an Automation Technician without a traditional degree.

Practical skills and experience often take precedence in this field.

You can gain the necessary skills through vocational schools, apprenticeships, or on-the-job training.

However, a degree or certification can provide a competitive edge and may be required for certain positions, especially in larger corporations or for advanced roles.


Is being an Automation Technician a stressful job?

Being an Automation Technician can be stressful at times, as the role often involves dealing with equipment malfunctions and system failures that can impact production timelines.

However, the stress level can vary depending on the working environment, the complexity of the automation systems being maintained, and the technician’s ability to manage pressure and troubleshoot effectively.


What are the prospects for Automation Technicians in the next decade?

The job prospects for Automation Technicians are expected to grow in the next decade due to the increased adoption of automated systems in various industries.

As companies continue to invest in automation to improve efficiency and productivity, the demand for skilled Automation Technicians is likely to rise.

Additionally, emerging fields like industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and smart manufacturing present exciting opportunities for growth and advancement.



And there you have it.

Embarking on a journey to become an automation technician may not be a walk in the park, but it’s undeniably fulfilling.

Armed with the appropriate skills, knowledge, and tenacity, you’re on the cusp of making a significant mark in the ever-evolving realm of automation technology.

Yes, the path may present its challenges, but the potential to innovate is boundless. Your creativity could lead to the next automation breakthrough that revolutionizes how we live, work, and function.

So, take that initial leap. Immerse yourself in continuous learning. Connect with industry professionals. And remember, never stop tinkering with technology.

Because the world is eagerly awaiting your innovative contributions.

And if you’re seeking tailored guidance on launching or advancing your career in automation technology, discover our AI Career Path Advisor.

This complimentary tool is designed to provide customized advice and resources to help you effectively traverse your career path.

Easy Earning: Jobs That Offer a Chill Work Environment

The AI Employment Effect: Jobs Shifting to Silicon

Unconquered by AI: Careers That Celebrate Human Capabilities

Say Goodbye to Office Life: Top Remote Jobs with Amazing Paychecks!

The Workforce Winners: Trending Jobs That Are Leading the Pack

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *