Author Topic: Job advice needed - working in PLC/automation control engineering  (Read 999 times)

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Offline V_King

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I would like to hear from people working in Automation/PLC/control engineering, especially in UK.

I have a mechanical engineering degree and working with mechanical design but want a change in career.

Is it hard to get into the roles above without EE degree (eg is degree very important in respect to PL issues?) What to expect in regards to workload? Are there seasons when it is busy, is traveling to commission equipment for long periods of time a common practice, or do companies have their own actual electrical installers.

There seem to be a lot of job adverts for such roles and wonder what is the reason behind? High employee rotation? Not a very good career option? Hard to find such job with decent working hours? Or is it just a shortage of engineers with multiple skills?

I'm ok with programming, have experience with logic, HMI, have good knowledge of electronics and control engineering fundamentals (was a large part of my mechanical degree, plus lots of learning for own projects), have done a multitude of mechatronics projects in private and commercial settings. Is that enough to even consider applying?

Any other insights and advice would be very appreciated.


Online TopLoser

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Re: Job advice needed - working in PLC/automation control engineering
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2018, 07:47:48 pm »
I've been designing and installing industrial automation equipment for 30 years.

In my experience you'll be spending a LOT of time travelling to and from site, a LOT of time living away from home and you'll be working a LOT of anti-social hours. There's nothing seasonal about it, you'll be busy all the time. Too busy.

I do electrical, electronic and mechanical work, plus programming. I've got a degree in maths and physics and another one in electronic systems and control engineering but I've never been asked what qualifications I have. People who know me offer me jobs, I've never had to go looking.

It's not an office job and it's not a 9-5 job...

Offline nctnico

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Re: Job advice needed - working in PLC/automation control engineering
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2018, 09:30:17 pm »
AFAIK the biggest problem is that PLC/automation isn't taught at all at the bachelor (or higher) levels. And as Toploser wrote: you'll be mostly working on location in big factories at bad hours. You have to like that. OTOH there is a huge shortage for good PLC programmers.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.

Online Rerouter

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Re: Job advice needed - working in PLC/automation control engineering
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2018, 09:51:45 pm »
On the flip side, its like a mining gig, your pretty much running yourself at your limit for weeks at a time, but its generally not a bad gig if you want to make a good income over a short time period, but yeah, most of your social interactions in person will be limited, ($50+ per hour to you is not uncommon once the training wheels are off for some of the gigs I've done for late onsite shifts)

Now the level of complexity you will be working with will be highly dependent on what part of the industry you jump into, but expect a mixture of ladder logic, Boolean arguments, function block based design and finally bodge code,

Being able to read someone else's ugly bodge solution, and either debugging it, or adding functionality to it would be the technician level work, (I have left some scary things out in the world, And suspect my name has been cursed a few times from my early years work) If your doing commissioning, expect you will need to work with changing requirements right at the last minute,

As for why the hours are horrible, When is a company most likely going to want there machinery not running? its generally stuff like 10PM - 3AM on a Saturday night, or short period shutdowns where you only get that time period and no more, when everyone who arranged the job is asleep. (I have been locked into sites because the cleaner went home more than once)

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