The process of becoming an expert on the programmable logic controller is not that simple, but you will be able to do it with a proper education route.
Of course, similarly,like any other career, we have tosay that you can follow these steps, or you can choose others, and you will still be able to learn how to do it and become professional after years of experience.
Generally, it is essential to follow some of these steps, which will ultimately help you enter the world of PLC programming. Since this particular career is continually adapting and evolving, you will have to learn basics, but continue by following the latest advancements.
What Should You Expect From The Job Of A PLC Programmer?
It is vital to understand that a PLC programmer is the expert who creates designs, troubleshoots, and maintains industrial automation system controlled by PLCs or programmable logic controllers.
Therefore, you will have to handle and maintain all aspects of creating a reliable and safe control of machines by using the various automation equipment as well as software and hardware.
Each programmable logic controller manufacturer comes with specific programming software and methods, which means the more you know, the better chances you will have in the future.
The most common ones are Rockwell (Allen-Bradley), Mitsubishi, Omron, Siemens, and GE-Fanuc.
You can find other manufacturers as well, but this particular list is based on popularity. Therefore, you need to understand how to program at least one of them, while we recommend you to learn as many as you can.
As soon as you reach the proper understanding of a single control system, you will be able to learn others faster than before. The main reason for that is that they operate by using similar principles.
Of course, they come with a specific integrated development environment, which is something you need to get used to. Still, in general, it is not challenging to transit from one another when you learn entirely at least one of the above.
We recommend you to check out this website: https://onlineplcsupport.com so that you can get the online support that will help you during the process of learning. If you live in North America and wish to start learning, we recommend you to choose Rockwell or Allen –Bradley PLC.
How Should You Start?
Education is a crucial consideration, and it is much better to choose formal education instead of post-secondary courses that you can find online. The main problem is that fewer and fewer people are choosing this aspect of programming beforehand.
However, you will have a greater advantage if you start learning about it from the beginning. Having proper and accredited education will separate you from the others, which will give you the ability to progress as time goes by.
It is important to remember that there are always exceptions, so even if you finished the arts or literature, you could become a great PLC programmer, you just need time, will and ability to improve.
1. You Need a Diploma or Post-Secondary Degree
We have mentioned above that employer will consider both soft and hard skills that will help you create a positive impact on the company you started working.
A diploma or post-secondary degree is your greatest asset, especially if you do not have hands-on experience in the automation industry.
You should consider programs that are directly related to automation and control, as well as engineering. We are talking about Electronic Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Mechatronics Engineering, and so on.
The idea is to talk learn these things so that you can tackle any challenge in front of you. The main reason for that is because you will have to compete with other employees, and a diploma will help you stay ahead of them from the very start.
The next step is whether you should take a university or community college education. We can consider the advantages and disadvantages of both options, but in general, colleges will provide you more considerable vocational skills that are popular among employers.
Remember that you will be able to learn how particular software and hardware functions and earn skills that will help you along the way.
The main advantage of a college education is practical knowledge, primarily since universities will provide you with a more theoretical approach with complicated math and definitions than colleges without real-time understanding and handling the problem.
The best way to learn about differences between community colleges and universities is by checking here.
On the other hand, universities are perfect if you wish to become an expert in a particular field because they will require you to think outside of the box and analytically so that you can solve various issues.
2. Practical Knowledge is Essential
It does not matter whether you chose university or college because before getting a diploma or degree, you should start handling both software and hardware. That way, you will be able to implement theoretical knowledge and learn how to use it practically.
You can find numerous emulators available on the market, which will provide you the ability to program something and use it in virtual settings on your laptop or PC.
Most automation companies, such as Rockwell, will have a wide array of emulators in which you can design and create a process and run it without using physical hardware.
Apart from that, you will be able to find numerous options available on the market for everyday devices such as garage openers. Remember that the more things you create, the higher chances are that you will land your dream job.
The main problem with emulators is that they come with particular limitations you should know about. For instance, you will not be able to create an interface for physical inputs and outputs, which will enable you to understand how the hardware operates.
Therefore, you will not be able to use analog input and output, which means that you will be able to use only discrete ones.
Have in mind that if you wish to improve and get into the PLC programming, you should get low-cost programming kits that feature controllers as well as programming software that will give you the chance to operate with the real thing.