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What Is Control System Engineering? (With Job Requirements)

June 29, 2021

Technically skilled professionals who enter control system engineering methodically design and stabilise electrical systems to ensure they efficiently deliver an outcome by a company or stakeholder group. If you are mathematically minded, have a keen eye for complex technology, and are interested in project management, you could enter a long-lasting career in control system engineering. Learning about this career may help you create a plan to pursue a role as a control system engineer. In this article, we explain what control system engineering is, the details behind the profession and outline the necessary skills, the educational requirements needed to become a control system engineer, and how to pursue a career in this field.

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What is control system engineering?

Control system engineering is a branch of engineering that focuses on implementing automated devices into a system. the act of control system engineering is relatable in almost every industry sector. In essence, control system engineering is the monitoring, maintaining and continually regulating device behaviour; with a main focus on electrical devices and computers. Professionals in this branch of engineering can ensure automated devices work correctly and perform efficiently in a larger system. They can also analyse statistical data to ensure the productivity of automated devices.

What do control system engineers do?

A control system engineer cultivates electronic devices such as domestic appliances, vehicles, military tools. These professionals bring stability to control systems that manage the resources and functions of companies spread across many sectors but most commonly with industrial automations, manufacturing, and technology industries. They create computerized models of control systems to help the engineer visualise how to manage the system's components in relation to the intended outcome. Next, the control system engineer can develop a real-life system that can help manage the company's resources practically. These professionals have a thorough understanding of dynamic electrical formats that are subject to frequent change.

These technically skilled professionals are responsible for developing and implementing control systems by designing practical input and output processes on open-loop and closed-loop systems. For perspective, the function of a light bulb is exemplary of an open-loop system. The output of physical light can always depend on manual intervention to initiate the input, which is power. On the other hand, closed-loop systems are far more complex as internal sensors manage the output to provide the desired effect. The control system engineer must constantly optimize each element of the electronic system while producing efficient solutions to mechanical errors.

Job duties for a control system engineer

Control system engineering is a highly technical job with demanding responsibilities that ensure the overall system working safely and effectively. Although their individual areas of expertise may differ, duties typically include:

  • Planning and executing new control systems and software
  • Frequent testing, modifying, and sustaining of existing systems
  • Conducting data analysis and present findings in a report
  • Communicate and support design specialists, process engineers, operation managers and suppliers
  • Liaise with clients and stakeholders on costs, equipment, and concerns
  • Inspect control systems, assess technical risks and implement health and safety regulations
  • Solve problems involving signal errors, operations and automation
  • Apply knowledge of relevant network services
  • Create computerized models and stimulations during the design phase

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Control system engineer requirements and salary

To succeed in your career as a control system engineer, you can generally need a degree or higher in engineering or a similar field. You can also need core strengths such as project management with expert knowledge of diverse technologies and software.

Education

Employers can usually require control system engineer candidates to earn a bachelor's degree, achieved over the space of four years. Taking an engineering-specific degree is the most direct route into the career however, those in a similar field that demonstrate relevant skills are equally accepted:

Engineering degrees

Below is a list of engineering degrees you can pursue:

  • Electrical engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Computer engineering

Similar field

You can also gain experience in one of the following fields to qualify for a control system engineer position:

  • Further mathematics
  • Physics
  • Computer science
  • Manufacturing

When you apply to universities, consider those that propose accredited undergraduate engineering courses by The Australian Engineering Accreditation Centre (AEAC). Certified programs can provide more in-depth teaching and access to specialist skills earlier in your career. Accredited qualifications stand out to potential engineering employers or help students prepare for the next stage of their education. Many undergraduates can also undergo work placements to gain valuable experience and learn fundamental skills.

It is common for control system engineers to specialize in a particular area of engineering, known in the industry as control disciplines. Look out for master's degrees that focus on one of the following areas and even progress to a doctorate:

  • Advanced process control
  • Dispersed control systems
  • Programmable logic controllers
  • Regulatory control and data attainment

Necessary skills

Control system engineers must possess a variety of soft and hard skills that allow them to execute effective management over projects and think logically to make informed technical decisions. Necessary control system engineer skills include:

  • Strong mathematical understanding: A vast majority of engineers can go on to lay out and solve algebraic formulas to design effective software and control systems:

  • Advanced knowledge of computer technology: A professional must display confidence with the latest software and programming functions as much of the job relies on computerised activities:

  • Project management: Overseeing and executing effective system controls during each phase from digital modelling to programming:

  • Problem solving: This is skill is particularly essential for engineers across all industries. You can need to diagnose issues at any point of the system and apply an efficient, resolution that corrects the whole error:

  • Methodical thinking: It is crucial that a control system engineer makes informed decisions and executes them methodically. You can also apply this when troubleshooting a problem:

  • H**igh level of attention to detail:** Control system engineering requires careful planning and implementation of important systems across all elements including the input, output, controllers, and sensors when applicable:

  • Flexibility: You must be willing to work unpredictable hours including weekends and overtime to maintain stability. Control system Engineers may also need to be on-call during time off in case an unexpected fault occurs:

  • Excellent communication: This skill is used daily to collaborate with other internal team members including engineers, technicians, suppliers and managers. You can also act as a liaison with clients and company stakeholders to discuss the status of current systems, arising issues and plan of action.

Salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, qualified control system engineers earn an average base salary of $103,601 per year in Australian dollars. However, the figure may vary depending on the region of your workplace and whether you have contributed over time. Your level of expertise also influences your pay. Other financial benefits may include paid time off, retirement savings plans, health and disability insurance.

Graduates that begin control system engineering at entry level can expect a salary of $75,020. Of course, the figure can rise as you demonstrate career progression and take on more significant responsibilities. Bonuses are at the discretion of the company's directors; however, employees of all levels could receive an additional $1,000-$15,000 in an annual premium.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

What is the importance of control systems?

A control system is a dynamic network of electrical programs transmitting and distributing power to provide the desired output. Nowadays, companies increasingly rely on well-designed control systems to strategically improve potency and supply products and services without the need for manual intervention. It is important to regularly update each aspect of the control system to ensure software, and therefore output, keeps up with modern demand.

The role of control system engineering is so crucial as they regulate the functionality of such systems that companies so heavily rely on. Automated control systems have become increasingly popular to ensure a smooth and efficient response. For some perspective on its significance, faults in the control system could jeopardise the entire service of the business and consequently lose customers. In certain industries, the control system maintains technology that is responsible for the health of users. For example, electronic systems used at hospitals, manufacturing locations and power plants.

Related: How To Lead Through a Crisis

Tips on how to become a control system engineer

Follow the tips below to improve your knowledge of how you could become a control system engineer:

  • Research relevant courses at school and university. Start building your foundation of knowledge and develop skills applicable to a control system engineering position early at school or university:

  • Consider a degree with a work placement. Increase your employability by enrolling in a course that provides practical hands-on experience. Ensure you network with your mentors as it could land you a graduate position:

  • Gain industry-specific knowledge. If there is a particular sector you're keen to enter, including automotive, rail, vehicle manufacturing or government, conduct research into specific job requirements:

  • Apply for related jobs. Control system engineering requires experience. Therefore, apply for entry level positions or one in a similar field such as system engineer to develop the core strengths needed:

  • Actively apply for positions. Use job board websites such as Indeed to apply for control system engineering jobs within your area's radius. You can also use the job descriptions to determine what qualifications you need to work for and what experience is necessary:

  • Tailor your resume to the type of control system engineering you are applying to. Optimize you resume by making sure you enhance any engineering skills you possess or detailing any relevant experience in a similar field.

Related: How to Create a Career Plan

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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