A PLC Programmer not only designs and creates but also maintains and troubleshoots a certain type of industrial automation system. This includes systems that are either directly or indirectly powered by Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs).
The PLC programmer will be directly responsible for every aspect of the safety as well as the overall reliability of the machines and automation equipment under their control. Such a person will know how to leverage industrial-grade software and hardware
Some of the more common PLC manufacturers include the following major companies:
- Allen Bradley
The above-mentioned manufacturers make some of the most well-known systems seen in the industry. If you are interested in becoming a well-known PLC Programmer, you must have in-depth know-how of at least one of these control systems. Of course, more is better and exposure to multiple systems is a definite asset.
Fortunately, once you have managed to acquire a really strong command over even one of these control systems, you will quickly be able to learn the others as well. This is because they all operate on the same key principles. All you have to do is to learn their specific integrated development environment (IDE).
If you live in the North American continent, it is best to go for Allen Bradley, Ohio or the Siemens PLC system. These two manufacturers are making some of the most widely used programmable logic controllers (PLC) in the industry today.
How Can You Become a PLC Programmer?
First and foremost, you will need a formal education to get into this field. In fact, there is no way around an accredited post-secondary institution. This holds particularly true when you are trying to get your very first job in this field and want to impress your potential employer.
If you have an application that is fully backed up by an accredited credential, you will be able to get a better response. In fact, it can be very extremely valuable, and it will also help to separate your application from the many others in the pile.
A Post Grad Diploma can be a Great Advantage
There are no viable substitutes for the hard and soft skills required to create a positive impact on an employer.
This holds particularly true if you do not have any experience in the PLC field. Here, a post-secondary degree or diploma can be an invaluable advantage during the recruitment process. The best programs include any field of study that is directly or indirectly concerned with the science of engineering. Specifically, automation and control will be an excellent choice here.
Some of the more common programs that can help you advance your PLC career include:
- Computer Engineering
- Electronics Engineer
- Mechatronics Engineering
- Mechanical Engineer and
- Electrical Engineering
The Local Community College or Formal University Education
You have to choose between opting for your local community college or a formal varsity education. Colleges are generally more geared towards imparting all those vocational skills that most automation and control employers actively seek to enhance their business.
This means that a college education will easily equip you with the skills that the industry is utilizing today. This is one of the best advantages that a community college level education will almost always have when compared to more traditional university education.
The best thing about a varsity education is that it will help you to think out of the box and design your answers to real-world problems. Here it is important to understand where a university education really shines. And that is the knowledge that it will install that will require you to think analytically and outside of the box, i.e. to think critically and to problem-solve issues.
Colleges are a good choice if you want to become a PLC Programme alone. In case you aspire to transcend programming and move up the corporate ladder into an executive role, then a university education will help in furthering your ambition.
Try to Use PLC Hardware and Software as Much as You Possibly Can
There is no need to wait to get a few degrees and diplomas before you start working with the actual software and hardware. This holds true for real-world PLC solutions of the kind used to control automation systems
In case you are lucky enough to be working in the field and you have access to actual PLC hardware, then, you are halfway there already! And if that is not the case you can also approach companies to offer you an internship where you will be able to learn the tools of the trade.
An emulator or emulation software can be defined as a way to simulate physical PLC hardware. Such emulators can be used on PCs, laptops and large scale servers. PLC programmers at Allen Bradley Ohio can also use software-based emulators that work like the real thing. They will allow you to create, download upload, and even run complex programs without the actual physical hardware.
There are several downsides to using this software. Some of them only support very specific controllers. And all of them are basically just stripped-down versions of the real thing. Apart from that, there is no real way to interface with an actual physical I/O. This means that you will not be able to learn how to use the physical PLC hardware. Moreover, there is no analog option available either.
PLC programmers are at the cutting edge of automation and control and they are rapidly adding to a growing community of professional technologists’ engineers and technicians. You should also try and join them and become one with one of the most important fields in information technology.