They say that programmers only have to write and execute codes throughout their life. Well, ask a PLC programmer, and he/she will tell how different their world is. They create, design, maintain, and also troubleshoot different industrial automation systems driven directly or indirectly by Programmable Logic Controllers. For someone who wants to build a career in this field, be prepared to deal with lots of automation equipment and machines. But, thanks to the RSLogix 5000 for PLC Programmer, an emulator that helps to program and configure related products, it is now easier to understand and master this job.
How to become a PLC programmer
Your first step to becoming a PLC programmer is getting a formal education from a reputable post-secondary institution. But, what about the other steps? Well, here’s a guide you can follow:
• Get a diploma or post-secondary degree
You should have both soft and hard skills to make it big in this field. And that starts by acquiring a diploma or post-secondary degree. The degree will take you places even if you don’t have hands-on experience at automation. Don’t be too selective about the programs. Take anything that is directly or indirectly related to automation, field of engineering, and control. Some of common programs that PLC programmers usually study is electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanotrics engineering, computer engineering, and so on.
The more engineering programs you have in your CV, the more you will impress your potential employer. It speaks a lot about your ability to take new challenges.
• Use PLC software and hardware
You don’t need to wait to complete your diploma or degree course to get your hands in PLC hardware or software applications. Fortunately, there are tons of automation systems in use today. So, you will not find a shortage of information about them. You may not get actual hardware to disassemble and check how to make those stuff, but you can through lists of articles based on their entire making procedure.
The best way to start is following different forums that discuss about PLC programming. These will give you real-life experiences of what you may deal with after getting your first job. Apart from going through articles, you should also watch videos on how to program PLC software. You will also get an idea about handling both hardware and software projects simultaneously.
• Using emulators
PLC emulators replicate the functions of actual hardware and software applications used in PLC programming. You can use the emulator on your computer or laptop and practice every day how to improve, create, edit, upload, and run the respective programs. Most of the automation companies provide these software-based emulators so that upcoming programmers can learn about them in detail. You don’t have to pay anything for the physical hardware. This is one of the best ways to understand what you will face in real-life projects.
The more you practice using emulators, the more experienced you become. Many companies still use traditional SLC-based PLC in the market. The emulators have dummy projects based on them too. So, they cover all your grounds to ensure you become ready for your first job whenever it comes.
Many PLC programmers say that emulators don’t provide actual physical interface. Enthusiastic candidates don’t get hands-on training on PLC hardware unless they get a job. But that’s the closest they can get. So, using emulators will not reduce your experience, but will, in turn, increase your knowledge about how to deal with different hardware.
Now that you know how to become a PLC programmer, get started with these guidelines, and no one will stop you from becoming the best in the business.