How to Become a PLC Technician: PLC Training, The Beginner's Guide
You hear a lot of statements in the news media declaring the U. S. manufacturing sector of the economy to be dead. To be fair, many companies have moved their manufacturing facilities off-shore to take advantage of lower labor costs; however, American manufacturing is far from dead.
Many experts think that not only is manufacturing alive and well in this country but that it is poised to experience growth, particularly in the area of advanced manufacturing. The experts also say that the most pressing challenge moving forward is finding and attracting talent. The good news is that all the factors seem to add up to new manufacturing opportunities for the next generation in several areas. One opportunity worth exploring is the industrial application of Programmable Logic Controller (PLC).
What is a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)?
A Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is used to control machines that are part of many devices in a wide variety of industries. The device is a miniature computer (having a microprocessor qualifies it as a computer) with a custom operating system built in. PLC’s use a system of sensors that read input data to tell them when an event needs to occur, and then signals output to make the event happen. The entire sequence occurs in real time and repeats in a loop until the input changes. The PLC tells the machine what to do and when to do it. Think of a PLC performing the computer version of an orchestra conductor.
Where are PLCs used?
PLCs replaced the old automatic controls used in manufacturing and other industries. These old controls were hard-wired relays that drove motor driven timers and rotary sequencers. Often one PLC is used to replace hundreds of the old system devices.
Automobile assembly lines were the first manufacturers to embrace this new computer technology as a way to save time and costs when retooling for new models. Since their inception PLCs are used to control machinery in countless industries. In modern industry, the PLC controls a vast range of equipment. A small sampling would include:
What jobs are related to PLCs?
One important thing to keep mind is this; with millions of PLCs out there in such a wide array of industries, companies need people who know how to program the little devils. These people are known as programmable logic controllers. They are individuals trained in every function of these devices.
If you wanted to be a programmable logic controller you would need to know how to set up electronic control systems for machines. This technical knowledge would have to include understanding electrical wiring, hydraulic systems, pneumatic systems, wiring schematics, and computer programming. You would also have to understand basic automation principles and have the ability to use critical thinking to problem solve.
Your job would keep the controllers operating to minimize interruptions. Responsibilities also include monitoring and reacting to all pertinent issues. At regular intervals, you would perform preventive maintenance on all equipment. You also would identify and facilitate repairs as needed. In the PLC position regular safety inspections and related duties are also high on the list of priorities.
Average Salary for Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) Technician
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median pay of a programmable logic controller technician is just over $60,000 annually. The number will vary according to industry, geography, and education.
Landing a job like this requires a background in electronics or a related field, and of course some teaching in either electronics or automation technology. Official certification or a degree is almost a must for many potential employers. Programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools that cover the basics. Companies are usually more comfortable with applicants that have some experience, so your best chance when lacking any is acquiring an education respected by hiring managers.
Preparing for Achievement
If you’re intrigued by this kind of opportunity, get in touch with ECPI University's Professional Development Center to learn more about our Advanced Manufacturing Academy. Through our flexible training programs, you can work toward earning your credentials for Certified Production Technician (CPT) or Manufacturing Technician Level 1 and work toward accelerating your career!
DISCLAIMER – ECPI University makes no claim, warranty, or guarantee as to actual employability or earning potential to current, past or future students or graduates of any educational program we offer. The ECPI University website is published for informational purposes only. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information contained on the ECPI.edu domain; however, no warranty of accuracy is made. No contractual rights, either expressed or implied, are created by its content.