In 1978, German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk gazed into the future and offered this preview: “We are the robots/We are programmed just to do/Anything you want us to,” they sang on their iconic song The Robots.
Movies and science fiction often portend a different tomorrow, one in which renegade robots enslave humanity and forge a dystopian future. Thankfully (so far!), the robots of today more closely resemble Kraftwerk’s vision than Harlan Ellison’s robot overlords.
Robots help in a variety of settings, from the manufacturing floor to mines, and even work as physician and hotel concierge assistants. While Hollywood typically depicts robots as humanoid constructions, most industrial robots are more prosaic than anthropomorphic. They perform all sorts of tasks—like cleaning floors (a Roomba, for example, is a robot) and picking strawberries, dispensing medication in hospitals, and investigating dangerous locations where it’s unsafe for humans to go. But robots cannot come into being, nor stay functioning, without robotics engineers who design, monitor, and maintain robots across a broad range of functions.
Robotics engineer salaries reflect the diversity of jobs trained robotics professionals can find (ranging from $57,000 to $123,000 annually), on average, $81,652, plus bonuses and other compensation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts jobs across all engineering sectors, including robotics, to increase steadily, growing 7 percent from 2016 to 2026—meaning employers will likely seek robotics engineers for the foreseeable future.
As with most jobs, factors such as education, geography, experience, and demand for talent will influence salaries for robotics engineers.
A master’s degree, on average, boosts salaries in robotics engineering by 16 percent.
The average salary for a robotics engineer with a bachelor’s degree in the field is $74,000, compared to $86,000 netted by a professional with a master’s degree in the field.
But salary isn’t the only motivation at play. To master robotics engineering, you need to be well versed in three disciplines: mechanical engineering (to control the robot’s framework), electrical engineering (to design the robot’s nervous system), and computer science (to create the algorithms that make the robot perform). It’s hard to study all three of these fields in depth at the undergraduate level; a master’s degree will remedy that problem, giving you the interdisciplinary skills you’ll need to pivot as the robotics field evolves.
“Typically the additional income from a master’s degree over a lifetime is worth the sticker price you pay for it.” (
A master’s in computer science can open countless doors from coast to coast. It will expand your knowledge and can help you advance your career, opening doors to management and leadership roles and increasing your earning potential. Jobs are plentiful around the country in a wide variety of industries, from healthcare to finance, entertainment to manufacturing.
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The jobs in robotics engineering are diverse, depending on which of the three arms of robotics you choose to work in. Robotics engineering salaries tracks along with your choice.
Popular jobs include:
As previously mentioned, a master’s degree in robotics engineering delivers a substantial boost in salary. Additional factors might skew the range one way or the other.
As with most industries, the greater the experience, the higher the robotics engineer salary. According to Payscale.com, an entry-level robotics engineer can expect to make between $53,608 and $115,048 (median salary: $78,944) while a mid-career robotics engineer can expect a range of $59,650 to $129,766 (median salary: $94,957) and an experienced robotics engineer will earn between $69,725 and $190,834 (median salary: $100,909).
Geography, which dictates the cost of living and availability of talent, is also a significant factor affecting a robotics engineer’s salary. Industry professionals in Sunnyvale are paid up to 42 percent more than the national average, according to Payscale.com. Other cities in California that pay more than the national average include Los Angeles (more than 17 percent) and San Francisco (more than 16 percent). Pittsburgh and Dallas are also on the higher end for salaries.
The salary for a robotics engineer can also vary depending on the industry in which you work. According to Glassdoor, it ranges from a low of $71,396 in the beauty and fitness niche to $92,423 in computer software.
Robotics engineering is a rapidly evolving field with a presence in many different enterprises, which means you need to constantly update skill sets. A master’s degree is a particularly useful way to get that process started, and degree programs can be completed in a mere two years. Schools also offer online or hybrid courses for those seeking more flexible program options. Certifications, some even offered through established robotic companies like Kuka, can add heft to your resume and brighten prospects for an increase in pay.
A master’s in robotics engineering can deliver not just monetary value by increasing your pay bracket, but can also give you a concentrated dose of interdisciplinary skills, a must-have in this industry. You may even learn the meaning of the immortal phrase “Klaatu barada nikto!”
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