How the Robot Revolution Is Changing the Workplace and Creating New Jobs and Career Paths

May 31, 2017 – Roy Rasmussen, has been a guest contributor to 21st Century Tech Blog on five previous occasions. He is a coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, a freelance copywriter, and a specialist in helping businesses reach target markets through focused sales messages. He has written books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning. Today he writes about the impact of robotics on jobs and future career paths. Enjoy the read.

Trib Live reports last month that 24 fourth graders at Sloan Elementary School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, used Hummingbird robotics kits to create automated dioramas. As part of a Carnegie Mellon University project combining STEM education with art, the students used materials to build a range of robots ranging from Iron Man to the Stay Puft Marshmallow. Today robotics kits like this can be found in thousands of classrooms around the world illustrating how robots are becoming a part of everyday life. Many people worry that robots will steal their jobs, but some of these children will grow up working alongside robots, or even working on them in some of the new career options that the robot revolution is creating. Here are some fields where robots are transforming the workplace in potentially positive ways.

Here are some fields where robots are transforming the workplace in positive ways.

Manufacturing Robotics

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, manufacturing is at the forefront of the robot revolution with 59% of companies in this industry segment already using some type of robot. While some are taking the place of humans, others called “collaborative robots” are safely working alongside humans, increasing productivity and making jobs easier.

Baxter, one of the first collaborative robots, features arms with seven degrees of freedom and an ability to sense force giving it a range of motion and dexterity comparable to those of humans. This makes Baxter flexible enough to use in a wide range of applications. Baxter learns by mimicking human trainers on the job. The robot’s programming adjusts to the workplace. This versatility enables Baxter to be integrated with other automated machinery in the workflow. These qualities make Baxter suitable for repetitive tasks, including loading and unloading, material handling, machine tending, and packaging. Robots like Baxter make workers’ jobs easier and safer, handling monotonous and high-risk tasks while working seamlessly side-by-side with humans. , which will improve workers’ jobs rather than replacing them, OTTO Motors argues. Manufacturing jobs will require humans who know how to work alongside robots, leading to a better-educated and higher-paid workforce. In addition to doing components of tasks that robots can’t do, manufacturing workers will get paid to supervise and maintain robots, performing tasks such as lubricating them, replacing

New manufacturing jobs will require humans to work alongside robots. That should lead to a better-educated and higher-paid workforce. In addition to participating with robots in completing tasks, manufacturing workers will also supervise and maintain them performing routine maintenance such as lubrication, replacing of O-rings, and electrical repairs. Educational programs, such as RAMTEC, are training the workers of the present and future to be prepared for these new types of manufacturing jobs.

Healthcare Robotics

Another field where robots are making jobs easier is healthcare. One of the most dramatic applications is robotic surgery. Robots such as Intuitive Systems, da Vinci surgical system received approval from the FDA in 2000. Today daVinci is used by surgeons to perform thousands of procedures. It is helping specialists to operate with clearer vision and greater precision than previously possible while making it surgery minimally invasive and safer for patients. Surgeons can use da Vinci to perform procedures remotely guiding the robot over a telecom link.

But robots are also helping healthcare professionals in other ways. For example, Robo Global reports hospital helper robots that deliver messages and samples within medical facilities, freeing up nurses and doctors to spend more time with patients. Other robots assist with elderly, autistic and paraplegic patients. At Georgia Tech specialized programs are being used to train healthcare professionals to work with robots. (See Robots to the Rescue for other biomedical robot systems and applications.)

Robot Operators and Robotics Technicians

Regardless of the job or industry, robots will require human supervision and maintenance creating new career opportunities for operators and technicians. Many robots will require supervision around the clock. If anything needs attention, a robot operator will step in. If a robot needs repair, a technician will have to be knowledgable about the intricacies of both the hardware and software.

Robot operators will require training in related areas of manufacturing, such as welding. According to PayScale, current hourly rates for this line of work average $13.79 U.S. Annual salaries top $47,000. Robot technicians average $18.55 per hour, with annual salaries of 67,000. Organizations such as Yushin University in Rhode Island, and George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario, are helping train robot operators and technicians for emerging career opportunities.


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery.