SME, a nationally recognized certifying body in manufacturing, announced last week that it has developed and will offer the Robotics in Manufacturing Fundamentals, or RMF, credential. The new certification focuses on assessing a candidate's comprehension of fundamental robotics concepts. It is designed for workers currently looking to upskill or reskill into manufacturing careers before pursuing equipment-specific or career pathway-specific training in robotics.
The credential can help individuals begin a lifelong career in an industry where there is opportunity for advancement and good-paying jobs, according to the organization.
SME developed the RMF credential with two leading organizations in the robotics education area: Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation and FIRST.
“Through our extensive networks in industry, education and workforce, SME identified a common need for a robotics credential that demonstrates certification holders have a basic understanding of robotics concepts before starting a more advanced training program,” said Jeannine Kunz, Chief Workforce Development Officer, SME and member of the Education and Workforce Advisory Committee of ARM, the Robotics Institute. “We worked closely with the REC Foundation and FIRST to validate the body of knowledge to cover topics relevant for foundational robotics topics across a wide range of industries.”
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.
“The global robotics market is expected to reach $74 billion by 2026 and there is tremendous opportunity for those who want to advance their career,” Kunz said. “To keep our industry thriving, we need to help meet the high demand for advanced manufacturing and robotics talent in our country.”
Career options for those who obtain new certification
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 involves 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
“It is important for FIRST to recognize the high value of skills and experiences that students gain through robotics programs,” said Chris Rake, Chief Operating Officer at FIRST. “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.”
The RMF credential is 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, the organization said.
“The REC Foundation is pleased to partner with SME to create the Robotics in Manufacturing Fundamentals certification as a way to recognize students that are pursuing Industry 4.0 technology careers,” said Dan Mantz, CEO at REC Foundation. “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,” Mantz added.
SME has led the manufacturing industry in providing industry-recognized certifications for over 50 years, including Lean Certification, Additive Manufacturing Certification, Certified Manufacturing Associate (CMfgA), Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT), and Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE).
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 at school, offering short-term, but comprehensive, preparation for the certification exam.
With the prospect of over 2 million jobs expected to be left open due to a lack of trained workers, there is plenty of opportunity for career advancement.
Additionally, employees are more open to the field than ever before. According to ARM Institute, 77% of workers say that they would be happy to work alongside robotics in manufacturing if it meant having to perform fewer manual processes.