What is a roboticist?

Roboticists are professionals in charge of the design and development of robotic prototypes to ensure they can operate safely and reliably. Roboticists are creating and innovating new robots and robotic applications often—but not always—in a leadership role. Due to their high skill level, roboticists are frequently at the top of the robot career path. So how do you become a roboticist and what do they do? 


If you are looking for a structured roboticist career path like that of a doctor or lawyer, you are sadly out of luck. Roboticists come from anywhere and everywhere, which means it’s never too late to make a pivot. Frequent undergraduate and postgraduate educations and work backgrounds for roboticists include:

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Software engineering
  • Computer science

For those whose previous education and/or work experience meet the requirements, a growing number of universities are offering graduate-level degrees in robotics. From East Coast to West Coast, and even in the middle, a robotics education—online or in person—is available to students who want to invest in an advanced degree. 

Job responsibilities, requirements, and compensation

Specific skills and requirements vary from job to job. For example, a roboticist working at a company making car manufacturing equipment is going to have a different set of expectations than a roboticist working on a quadruped robot designed to find survivors after a disaster. Roboticists use a wide range of tools to design and develop robots, however, what unites all roboticists is a focus on using robotics to solve real-world problems. 

Below are some actual job responsibilities of roboticists:

  • Design high-performance mechatronic systems for robotic manipulation and locomotion.
  • Perform rigorous experimental testing of groundbreaking robotic systems.
  • Model complex phenomena uncovered during experimentation and communicate results.
  • Build a team capable of designing our next generation of robots.
  • Be a creative problem solver and work across disciplines.
  • Direct true R&D efforts, especially in navigation methods.
  • Collaborate with robotics engineers and data scientists to ensure the seamless integration of sensor fusion and calibration algorithms into the robot control system.
  • Conduct testing and validation of the sensor fusion and calibration algorithms in both lab and field environments.
  • Work with software engineers to integrate the sensor fusion and calibration algorithms into our existing software architecture.
  • Participate in design reviews and code reviews to ensure high-quality code and robust software development practices.
  • Understand engineering principles, data structures, and algorithms.
  • Drive a project from conception to completion, research papers to code with a disciplined approach to software development on the Linux platform.

While there is no well-trod path to roboticist to follow, it is valuable to look at the requirements for actual roboticist jobs posted on various job-hunting sites to see what hiring companies are looking for, such as:

  • BS and MS in electrical/mechanical/aerospace engineering, experimental physics, or a related field.
  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Robotics, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, or a related field.
  • 5+ years of experience developing robotic systems, high-performance vehicles, or scientific instruments.
  • 3+ years of experience in robotics and sensor fusion and calibration.
  • Rigorous background in linear algebra and geometry – preferably also classical dynamics.
  • Proficiency with scientific computation, e.g. Matlab, Scipy/Numpy, Julia, Eigen.
  • Proficiency in at least one of the following: Python, C++, Boost, ROS, Computer Vision, Robotics, OpenCV.
  • Expertise in IMU data, wheel odometry data, camera data, and GPS data integration and fusion.
  • Experience with SLAM, localization, and mapping algorithms.

According to Glassdoor, the estimated base salary for a roboticist ranges from $49,000 to $77,000, with an additional $6,000 to $11,000 in bonus compensation. As industries of all types try to address labor shortages and worker safety, a career as a roboticist will be in demand for the foreseeable future.