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Controls engineering is a relatively new branch of engineering that has ties to both electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Controls engineering combines your training and experience as an engineer with complex mathematics. In particular, you're an expert in control theory.
You design the systems that allow machines and electronics to be controlled by human input. You're most likely employed in the manufacturing industry, though the products you work on can vary greatly. Controls engineers have a hand in developing and improving thousands of machines and systems we interact with every day.
Controls engineers work full-time hours and are usually employed in the manufacturing industry. Though you work in manufacturing, much of your time will be spent in an office environment, though you likely be closely involved in the manufacturing process as well.
Controls engineer salaries are fairly consistent across all Canadian provinces, starting in the mid to high $50,000 range, and reaching as high as $85,000 for skilled engineers with a significant amount of work experience.
The one notable exception is Toronto, where controls engineer salaries are much higher than the national average. This is likely due to the Greater Toronto Area's strong tech and manufacturing presence. Over half of Canada's manufactured goods are produced in Toronto and the surrounding metropolitan. As controls engineers are most needed in the manufacturing sector, this is where you'll find your strongest job opportunities.
Controls engineers typically work in a very hands-on environment. You engineer the processes that allow humans to control machines and devices, so it's essential that you work directly with the systems you're developing. Some of the tasks you'll be involved in on a daily basis include:
Controls engineers typically work in the manufacturing industry, though you can choose to work within a vast array of disciplines including mechanical, electrical, fluid, chemical, biological and even financial.
The demand for controls engineers is consistent across Canada, with a noticeable spike in demand in Toronto. The strong tech and manufacturing sectors in Toronto and the surrounding areas are likely responsible for the high demand for controls engineers in this market. In fact, the GTA produces over half of all Canada's manufactured goods.
As a controls engineer, you will need advanced math skills to analyze, design and troubleshoot controls problems. You have highly developed analytic and problem-solving skills. In addition to your technical competencies, employers will also be looking for candidates who:
Like all engineering professions, controls engineer jobs require you to be certified as a professional engineer in your province or territory. To successfully obtain your P.Eng status (or equivalent in your province) you'll need to complete an undergraduate degree in engineering, 3-4 years of practical job experience and pass the professional exam.
Depending on the position you're applying for, some employers may also look for a post-graduate degree in a discipline related to controls engineering. Further education may also help you advance your career down the line.
Controls engineering is a new and growing specialty with the engineering field. As more and more companies come to depend on technology to compete and reach their business objectives, skilled controls engineers are vital to manage the issues that arise from complex machinery and systems used.
Experienced controls engineers can seek out promotions to supervisory and management roles in manufacturing and production or transition into other areas of engineering, such as the closely related electrical engineering field.