what is a controls engineer?

A controls engineer is a highly skilled professional in the field of automation and industrial systems. Their primary role involves designing, implementing, and maintaining control systems used in manufacturing and industrial processes. This occupation demands a strong blend of technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and a deep understanding of automation technologies.

Controls engineers typically work in industries such as manufacturing, automotive, and energy, where they play a crucial role in optimizing and ensuring the efficiency of production processes. They design and implement control systems using programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and other automation technologies. These professionals collaborate with multidisciplinary teams to integrate control systems into existing processes, troubleshoot issues, and improve overall system performance.

In addition to designing and implementing control systems, controls engineers may be responsible for conducting system assessments, recommending upgrades, and ensuring that control systems comply with safety and regulatory standards. This role requires adaptability to emerging technologies and a continuous commitment to staying updated on industry trends.

view jobs

average controls engineer salary

According to our salary guide, the average salary of a controls engineer in Canada is slightly above $40 per hour or $80,000 per year. At the beginning of their career, the salary is around $60,000 per year. With more experience, one can reach a salary of up to $100,000 per year. Demonstrating expertise in control system design and troubleshooting tends to increase potential income.

what affects the salary of a controls engineer?

Several factors impact the remuneration of a controls engineer. Firstly, experience plays a crucial role: a more experienced professional with years of practice in the field generally commands a higher salary. Similarly, specialization in specific areas of control systems, such as advanced PLC programming or industrial network design, can positively influence remuneration.

Moreover, geographic location is another crucial factor. Salary differences between urban and rural areas, as well as wage disparities from one province to another, can be significant. Major cities or industrial hubs where demand for skilled controls engineers is higher may offer more competitive salaries.

Educational qualifications and professional certifications are also determining factors. A controls engineer with advanced degrees or certifications in control systems engineering, automation, or related fields may access better job opportunities and more attractive salaries.

Finally, economic conditions and trends in the industrial automation sector can impact salaries. High demand for expertise in areas such as Industry 4.0, IoT integration, or robotics can lead to increased remuneration for controls engineers possessing these sought-after skills.

download our salary guide

types of controls engineers

In the field of control systems engineering, there are several types of engineers based on their specialization and specific responsibilities. Here are some of the different types:

  • PLC Programmer: specializes in programming programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to control and automate industrial processes.
  • HMI Designer: focuses on designing human-machine interfaces (HMIs) to facilitate user interaction with control systems.
  • Automation Engineer: involved in designing, implementing, and optimizing overall industrial automation processes.
  • Industrial Network Engineer: specializes in designing and maintaining communication networks used in industrial automation and control systems.
  • Robotics Engineer: focuses on the design and implementation of robotic systems for automation and manufacturing processes.
controls engineer
controls engineer

working as a controls engineer

If designing and optimizing control systems for industrial processes interests you, the role of a controls engineer might be for you. This role requires a combination of technical expertise, problem-solving skills, and a deep understanding of industrial automation. Let's explore together the key responsibilities and the professional context in which a controls engineer operates.


controls engineer skills and education

The qualifications required to become a controls engineer include a mix of formal education and practical training. Here are the essential elements to access this profession:

  • Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering, Control Systems Engineering, or related fields: Most employers prefer candidates who have pursued higher education, providing a solid foundation in control systems principles and practices.
  • Professional Certifications: Holding relevant certifications such as Certified Automation Professional (CAP) or ISA Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST) can enhance job opportunities and demonstrate expertise.
  • Experience in Industrial Automation: Practical experience in designing, implementing, and troubleshooting industrial control systems is valuable for controls engineers.

competencies and characteristics of a controls engineer

Skills sought by employers for the controls engineer position may include:

  • Technical Expertise: A deep understanding of control systems, PLC programming, HMI design, and other automation technologies.
  • Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills: The ability to analyze complex issues in control systems, formulate effective solutions, and make informed decisions.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration skills are essential for working with multidisciplinary teams and ensuring seamless integration of control systems.
  • Adaptability and Continuous Learning: The ability to adapt to emerging technologies and stay updated on industry trends in industrial automation.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Awareness of safety and regulatory standards in the industrial sector to ensure control systems comply with established guidelines.

faqs about controls engineer jobs

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a controls engineer.


meet a recruiter

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.