10 traits you need to be successful working in the automation industry.

Posted on October 20, 2020 by Esoteric Staffing

The automation industry is a sticky career choice. After you’ve found your groove in the world of industrial automation, it’s hard to imagine doing something different. If you’d like to join the industrial automation sector, the following are 10 traits you’ll need to be successful:

#1 Love of travel.

No, we're not talking about exotic locations to a tropical paradise. We're talking about food plants and manufacturing plants around the world. The types of places that build, store, and distribute the products we eat, consume, and drive. It's rarely glamorous. Sometimes you're alone and sometimes with a team.

You'll see airports, Hampton Inn's, and the inside of factories. At times it can be a grind. But then you look back over the years and remember the places you've been, the cultures you've explored, the people you’ve met from around the world. The German castles, the California coast, and the wavy fields of Iowa! Enjoy the ride. Your mileage may vary.

#2 Long days. 9-5 need not apply.

Not every day is long. In fact, in terms of workplace flexibility the automation industry is hard to beat. But you better not be afraid of some long days when duty calls. If you're looking to punch the clock from 9-5 every day, then best to look elsewhere.

Most of the time, work is Monday to Friday. Sometimes weekend work is needed. Big projects that need an extra push. Supporting customers that are running 24x7 operations. There are times (months at a time for big projects) that are consistently busy. When looking back over a 5, 10, 20-year horizon – it's hard work. But fair. Honest work for honest pay.

#3 Adaptable. Technology changes rapidly.

Technologies change rapidly in the field of industrial automation. You'll need to be both adaptable and committed to life-long learning. A few years ago, mobile robots didn't exist, neither did COBOTS, and multi-directional shuttle technologies are coming on fast.

Staying up on the capabilities of the various technologies will keep you relevant as an Expert in the industry. Attending industry trade shows is valuable as an educational tool and for awareness of industry trends. Embrace the change.

#4 Communication. Under pressure.

As in life, sometimes things don't work as planned. But when things go wrong in the world of industrial automation, you'll need to be able to communicate effectively under pressure. Verbal and written communication that provides a clear explanation of the problem AND solution. Production is waiting, so you best hustle!

If you'd rather retreat into your shell until the smoke clears, you'll want to be careful as to what type of positions are suitable. A customer facing position is likely not ideal. Nobody is looking to dial up the drama. But if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen!

#5 Visualize 3D reality looking at 2D drawings.

Many positions in industrial automation will require the ability to visualize in your mind what something looks like in real-life by looking at a 2D drawing. This is made more difficult sometimes by not having seen the thing in real life that you're looking at in a drawing.

The ability to visualize in your mind what a thing looks like (with some degree of accuracy) is an important skill. Is this a skill you can learn or something innate? Good question. But you probably know whether the answer is yes or no for yourself. Let that factor accordingly.

#6 Critical reading skills. Small words count. A lot.

Industrial automation can require a lot of reading. Specifications. Description of Operations. Proposals. Contracts. Technical documents. Emails. Small words can be important. The difference between success and failure. Working or disaster. Read with precision.

A 100-page document can be 98 pages of boilerplate with 2 pages of information that really counts. To be successful, you'll be relied upon to know your facts. Reading is how you’ll get them. No podcast or video learning applies here. Get your spectacles out.

#7 Writing. Communicate your message.

Polish up your writing skills. You won't be writing novels, but you will be communicating your message via the written word. Be concise. Bullet points and lists can be your friend.

Don't let your message get lost in the telling of it. Strip out the fluff. Enough said.

#8 Your friends will have no idea what you do.

Banker. Lawyer. Doctor. They conjure up a vision. You can imagine what they do based on their title or field of work. The field of industrial automation; not so much. Tell your friends that you helped commission a shuttle system for an e-commerce fulfillment warehouse and their eyes will glass over.

You may have a cool title and a cool job. But your friends and family won't understand what you do. On second thoughts, maybe that is a perk!

#9 Persistence. It rarely goes as planned.

Don’t let a bad day or bad project get you down. It is cutting edge technology. It is electronic, mechanical, and software systems dreamt from scratch. Things will go wrong. Get yourself back up and have another go.

Industrial automation projects are months and years in the planning and months and years in the execution. Sometimes perfect planning makes for perfect execution. Sometimes the best laid plans are for naught. Get back on your feet and keep going.

#10 Love of technology.

Thought you'd never get to this one. It goes without saying. If you've been considering a career in the field of industrial automation, you probably enjoy technology. Mechanical. Electrical. Software. Maybe all 3.

You’ll spend your days talking tech, not feelings. You'll be building new things; not repeating the old. Five years from now you'll be working with technologies that don't exist today. Technology is cool. Robots are cool. Go build it!