What does a Control Systems Engineer do?

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A Control Engineer is responsible for the design, development and management of control dynamic systems in large organizations. They bring stability to these systems that are constantly changing. What do control systems engineers do?

What is control engineering?

Control engineering is also referred to as control systems engineering. It’s a discipline in engineering that uses control theory to design and develop systems and is related to mechanical and electrical engineering.

Control engineering is key in many user control systems that range from a simple dishwasher to an airplane. These systems are designed to function with minimal or even zero human intervention. (E.g., cruise control in auto vehicles). 

The Role of a Control Systems Engineer - Responsibilities, Skills, Background, Salary
Control Systems Engineer – Job Overview

In practice, “control” refers to the use of tools such as sensors or detectors to measure results of a process. The result in turn is used to influence the control loop, and thus the input influences the controlled output – ultimately achieving the desired performance. 

Control technology is divided into 3 different types of controls: binary, analog and digital controls. Analog controls are disappearing more and more from electrical engineering and today control engineering mainly refers to binary and digital controls.

Binary controls include actuators such as lights, valves, and smaller motors. With binary controls, the control system may be responsible for regulating lighting systems, water flows, or the movements of vehicle drives. Digital controls are based on the processing of data signals.

Responsibilities of a Control System Engineer

A control engineer is responsible for research, design, and management of the development of the equipment used to monitor and control systems and machinery. They make sure that the processes run safely and efficiently.

To design a complete control system, control engineers need in-depth knowledge of the processes they want to produce, which may involve talking to the personnel who operate the equipment and to the engineers who designed them.

Responsibilities and daily tasks of a Control Systems Engineer
Control Systems Engineer – Responsibilities

Control engineers must choose the tools they need to take the correct measurements for the system. They sometimes have to buy ICT equipment and supervise its installation, taking into account costs and deadlines. Once the system is installed, process control engineers must teach company personnel how to use the system and deal with any problems that may arise. They can lead teams of workers, including other engineers and technicians.

Control engineers also modify existing systems and improve them to make them safer, more efficient, and more economical.

Day to day tasks and responsibilities: 

  • Development and construction of controls
  • Research, design, and management of control systems
  • Definition of control algorithms and selection of tools
  • Purchasing and overseeing installation of ICT equipment
  • Development of hardware and software for control equipment
  • Control and maintenance of existing controls
  • Develop, write, and optimize PLC, HMI, Vision and Robot programs
  • Ensuring that the process works safely and efficiently in accordance with specifications
  • Develops knowledge about the client’s business and its needs.
  • Develop software that meets customer needs or solves a particular problem.
  • Construction and implementation of system architectures in industrial automation.
  • Leading teams of workers, including other engineers and technicians

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Skills Required

A control systems engineer is a professional with solid knowledge regarding the operation of organizations, control systems, the application of control theory, and management control tools. 

As a control engineer, a wide range of technical skills and soft skills are needed. These range from being able to understand the systems, networks, hardware, and software you are working with, but you also need the skills to communicate and collaborate with other business units, or clients. 

Skills Required for a Control Systems Engineer
Skills Required

A crucial skill required for this role is a strong mathematical ability. The job also requires programming skills in languages ​​like C and C++ but the languages ​​and tools you need to know varies by industry. 

Additionally, software skills include knowledge of Matlab, HMI, Simulink, and PCI. You will also need a working knowledge of mobile, web, and desktop operating systems, as well as experience in analytics, robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. 

Skills required for a Control Systems Engineer: 

  • Technical ability and knowledge of mathematics, science, and technology
  • Software skills such as Matlab, HMI, Simulink, and PCI
  • Knowledge of electrical theory, control components, robotics, and automation
  • Organizational ability to coordinate resources
  • Ability to calibrate controls, communications, and diagnostics as needed
  • Stay up-to-date on technological advancements
  • Application of modern control theory to an autonomous system
  • Ability to identify, maintain, and utilize SCADA systems and KPIs
  • Knowledge of state estimators 
  • Strong organizational capabilities and ability to stay calm under pressure
  • Ability to react quickly and problem solve
  • Strong social and communicative skills
  • Keen sensibility and strong research skills
  • Ability to work in a team and closely with other professionals.

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Background

In order to take on the role of a control systems engineer, a Bachelor’s degree is the first step. Specializations within a Bachelor’s of Engineering include Industrial Technologies, Automatic and Electronic Engineering, or Computer Engineering. 

Employers will often seek out candidates with a Master’s degree for higher-level roles. 

Control System Engineer Salary

The salary of a control engineer depends on a few factors. From industry to position, several factors affect pay. 

For new graduates or junior engineers, the annual starting salary is up to $62,000. The average salary with a few years of experience is closer to $80,000. Senior engineers with considerable professional experience can earn up to $116,000

Control engineers in Germany make between €40.000 and €74.000 per year, while the salary range in the UK ranges between £30.000 to £57.000.

How much does a Control Systems Engineer make?

Junior$62,000
Average$80,000
Senior$116,000

What does a freelance Control System Engineer earn?

The freelancermap rate index in November 2020 shows an average hourly rate of $88. Considering an 8-hour working day, freelance developers make about $700 a day.

Average Freelance Rate of a Control Systems Engineer
Control Systems Engineer – Average Freelancer Rate (freelancermap Index, November 2020)

Other roles and job profiles in IT:

Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

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