New Certification Helps Meet High Demand for Robotics Talent

December 01, 2022
  • Jeannine Kuntz
    By Jeannine Kunz
    Chief Workforce Development Officer
    Tooling U-SME

The global robotics market is expected to reach $74 billion by 2026 and there is tremendous opportunity for those who want to get started in manufacturing or advance their career. 

Fortunately, employees are more receptive to robots than ever before. According to our colleagues at ARM Institute, 77 percent of workers say that they would be happy to work alongside robots in manufacturing if it meant having to perform fewer manual processes. 

The question is how do we meet the high demand for advanced manufacturing and robotics talent in our country? We know this is critical to keep our industry thriving. 

New Manufacturing Credential 

To help address this need, SME has developed and is offering the Robotics in Manufacturing Fundamentals (RMF) credential. 

The RMF credential, focused on the fundamentals of manufacturing robotics, provides a starting point for any career pathway a candidate may pursue in the field of robotics. 

It all came about through discussions with our extensive networks in industry, education and the workforce community. It was clear there was a common need for a robotics credential that demonstrates certification holders have a basic understanding of robotics concepts before starting a more advanced training or credentialing program. 

The new certification, focused on assessing a candidate’s comprehension of fundamental robotics concepts, may be used by those currently entering the field or looking to upskill or reskill into manufacturing careers before pursuing equipment-specific or career pathway-specific training in robotics. 

The RMF credential is also ideal for high school and college students, dislocated workers, under-employed individuals, veterans, at-risk youth and others who are seeking new employment in high-demand manufacturing jobs. 

Working with REC and FIRST

We were fortunate to work closely with two leading organizations in the robotics education area, Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation and FIRST®, to validate the body of knowledge to cover topics relevant for foundational robotics knowledge across a wide range of industries. 

Chris Rake, Chief Operating Officer, FIRST said, “It is important for FIRST to recognize the high value of skills and experiences that students gain through robotics programs. The RMF credential unlocks exciting career pathways, helping us inspire young people to become leaders in robotics and advanced manufacturing, and we’re proud to join SME in developing this program.” 

With a RMF credential and the fundamental knowledge it represents, a candidate has many options available to them including: 

  • Entry-level employment in manufacturing jobs that involve robotics and automation
  • Pursuing further education and training toward:
    • Robotics-specific career pathway such as a robotics technician, robotics specialist, robotics integrator, or robotics engineer
    • Equipment-specific robotics training and certification
    • Skilled trade in which robots may be applied such as machining or welding
    • Industrial maintenance or mechatronics certification

Dan Mantz, CEO, REC Foundation said, “Manufacturing is evolving, and today's manufacturing jobs require high tech skills. But there is a critical shortage of tech workers for these jobs so students earning this certification will have excellent career opportunities. The Robotics in Manufacturing Fundamentals certification is an exciting complement to the existing REC Foundation industry certifications in Pre-engineering and Robotics that are part of our workforce development initiatives." 

SME has led the manufacturing industry in providing industry-recognized certifications for over 50 years and we are glad to add the RMF certification to our lineup which includes Lean Certification, Additive Manufacturing Certification, Certified Manufacturing Associate (CMfgA), Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT), and Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE). 

Supporting Robotics Knowledge 

We are often asked about the best way to prepare for the exam. 

Candidates may pursue the RMF credential on their own, work with their local training provider or access Tooling U-SME resources to prepare for the exam. 

Tooling U-SME offers an optional preparatory program of 22 online classes covering foundational manufacturing topics such as an introduction to manufacturing, applied mathematics, robotic applications, robot systems and components, robot programming concepts, and more topics agreed upon by manufacturing experts as being relevant for foundational robotics knowledge across a wide-range of industries. Following completion of the training program, passing the certification exam validates knowledge gained. 

With each class lasting approximately 60 minutes, the training program can be completed in just a few weeks (typically less than one month) or in one semester as part of an Introduction to Robotics course, offering short-term, but comprehensive, preparation for the certification exam. 

The RMF credential can help individuals begin a lifelong career in an industry where there is opportunity for advancement and good-paying jobs. We appreciate the unwavering support and partnership with FIRST and REC along with individual contributors from education, industry and non-profits in making the new certification a reality, and we welcome you to reach out to learn more. 

Contact Tooling U-SME at 866.706.8665 or learn more about our industry-recognized certifications here.
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