Information technology has always been a popular career path, thanks to robust growth and an impressive starting base for salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for IT positions will grow 12% by 2028, with an average annual salary over $86,000. The world of IT is seeing high demand for professionals in a wide variety of industries, but one of the fastest growing specialties is in robotics. This category is quickly becoming a front-runner as one of the highest-paying industries that rely on IT.
Market demand for the advancement of robotics has grown exponentially in recent years. The market size for global robotics technology was valued at $62.75 billion in 2019, with projected growth to 189.36 billion by 2027. Industries such as healthcare, education, engineering, manufacturing, and more are increasing their reliance on robotics, which has created major demand for IT professionals to help them usher in new technology that can help them change their operations. By obtaining an IT degree, you could be setting yourself up for an incredible career in an ever-changing, exciting industry—especially as the latest rise in demand for robotics continues to affect the future of business.
Many people confuse automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics or assume that they’re the same thing. While they play in the same sandbox, so to speak, they’re actually in distinctly different categories. Think of AI as a program that simulates human intelligence in machine processes, such as in computers. Some examples of AI include speech recognition, natural language processing, expert systems, and more.
Meanwhile, robotic engineering technology encompasses the creation and use of physical machines, often to perform tasks that humans can do. They need not necessarily be autonomous, or be a humanoid robot. Robotic machines come in many different varieties. You may have a robot in your home right now, you may have an autonomous robot such as a Roomba that vacuums your floor. You may also have one that is not autonomous if you enjoy flying a drone in a field, either way, you are helping to finance continued robotic advances. An industrial robot may be used to work in environments unpleasant or hazardous to humans, performing machining work that is too precise for a human to perform. High-precision is also a case for the use of medical robots. And anyone who’s been to a Disney theme park has seen robotic characters in action (but Disney calls theirs Audio-Animatronics).
So how do the latest advances in automation, robotics technology, and AI all work together? Robotics needs to be programmed to interpret the information gathered via an on-board sensor, to do the tasks that are being asked of them, which is where an AI application comes in. AI gives robotics a programming language that guides them to behave the way an IT professional intends. Using Disney’s Audio-Animatronics as an example, once the robot version of the Shaman of Songs is built, an application needs to be programmed to sing to you as you float past her in the Na’vi River Journey attraction in Animal Kingdom. Similarly, you may seen those YouTube videos from Boston Dynamics showing off their dancing robots. That’s another example of AI and a robot working together.
But robotics isn’t just here to entertain us or clean our floors—it’s also here to help us learn, elevate our healthcare, change how we manufacture things, and more.
There’s no question that continued development in robotics and machine learning are influencing a wave of change throughout a variety of industries. While there are numerous benefits associated with this technological evolution, there are also some concerns that robotics and automation may replace many human beings in jobs ranging from food servers to healthcare professionals. It’s a reasonable fear, depending on your chosen field, but one way to stave off this concern is by advancing your education to become a part of this transformation.
According to Big Think, “The general consensus on whether robots will take jobs wholesale remains mixed but is trending towards resignation. The optimists believe that, as with the Industrial Revolution and the Agricultural Revolution, the technological improvements that will come from the dawning era of artificial intelligence and its offshoot in modern robotics will create more new jobs than they destroy.” Examples of this sentiment can be seen in the following categories:
Robotics are assisting healthcare professionals in many ways. Intelligent, AI-based devices can be used to help doctors identify diseases and health concerns in patients much earlier, while surgeries are enhanced by medical robotics that allow for tiny, accurate movements. Plus, surgeons can get real-time information on patients to reduce blood loss and side effects. Medical robots can also help with disinfection, delivery of supplies, and giving providers more time with patients.
Both in-person classroom and online learning are affected by robotics. With teachers often stretched thin in over-packed classrooms, they’re not able to offer as much one-on-one instruction as a student might need. And if students are learning in an online environment, they may not have a teacher guiding them through their lessons at all. Robotics can assist with learning in multiple ways. For example, some robotics can help disabled students get to class, or take class from home where they can learn communication skills and how to focus. Robotics can also act as a test subject for medical students to learn new skills or form bonds with students in the classroom who need more personal attention.
Robotics assists in a wide range of manufacturing industries, ranging from food to automotive to the aerospace arena. In automotive manufacturing, robotics helps human counterparts assemble and program cars to automate the process and make it more efficient. The aerospace industry is using 3D printing to create lightweight parts that enhance production. And the food industry relies on them to address food safety by using advanced cooler systems and relying on robotic assistance during production to ensure consistency, reduce cross contamination, and make the work environment safer.
This is where your Roomba or toy robot dog comes in. Robotics is taking over personal technology in a big way, ranging from Roku or Amazon Fire remotes that allow you to tell it what movie to play to kitchen appliances that cook us meals without us having to lift a finger.
Robotics will unquestionably have a dramatic impact on both our personal and professional lives. But in both instances, robotics can make our lives much easier by handling tasks we may not be able to do ourselves or support us when we need help doing tasks.
While it’s likely that robotics will make some careers obsolete and narrow the job market in certain sectors, research has shown that robotics will actually create more jobs in the long run. Many of these new jobs will be in the IT industry, which is known to be “future proof” thanks to its continual evolution and reliance on forward-thinking professionals to continue driving it to new heights. By obtaining an IT degree and specializing in robotics, you’re creating an everlasting career path that challenges you as much as it rewards you for innovating your way into the future.