An IT role with a future: What is an IT automation engineer?

Automating work processes is comprehensive in nature; it means reducing manual work steps and eliminating redundancies, resulting in greater efficiency, productivity and speed. This principle applies not only to the wider field of automation but also significantly to IT. IT automation engineers make sure that this all works seamlessly. They develop, test and implement automation technologies in various areas, such as deployment and service management.

We now want to outline the exact job responsibilities that these specialists have in a company. First, however, we need to define the term, as it’s sometimes used a little vaguely.

What exactly is an IT automation engineer?

It’s essential to distinguish IT automation engineering from other forms of automation, like those in the industrial production sector. The term “IT automation engineer” specifically denotes a professional who focuses on automating digital processes rather than the broader scope of automating industrial production operations, which would fall under the role of an automation technician.

The role of an IT automation engineer: Responsibilities and examples

Automation engineers are responsible for implementing automation solutions. Part of their role is to identify opportunities in existing IT processes that could be made more efficient or effective through automation. They then program applications to take advantage of these opportunities.

An example might be identifying a manual data entry process that is prone to human error. An automation engineer could then develop an application to automate this process, reducing the potential for error and increasing efficiency. Other areas and responsibilities are:

Cloud migration

Cloud migration is a top priority for many companies today. And it’s exactly here that automation can save a lot of time and effort.

Automation engineers plan, implement and monitor infrastructure automation, e.g. with infrastructure-as-code tools like Terraform. They also use container-based platform-as-a-service software such as Docker.

Introduction of CI/CD concepts

In software engineering, automation engineers are responsible for introducing CI/CD concepts (continuous integration/continuous delivery). This approach helps to build a bridge between the development and operation of the software.

Development time is reduced, while the rollout of code is accelerated and optimised. Typical tools include the automation server Jenkins, the cloud-based CI/CD solution Travis CI and AWS offerings such as CodeDeploy and CodePipeline.

Robotic process automation

Another distinct area is robotic process automation (RPA), which involves automating repetitive processes that were previously carried out manually on a computer – in the same user environment. Like many digital skills, RPA is often used in cooperation with external partners, although specialised RPA engineers are now working on this as well.

Testing and quality assurance

One of the main tasks of an automation engineer is to test solutions. At the end of the day, they must ensure that no critical errors are generated by the automation of databases, systems, networks and applications.

IT automation engineers detect potential sources of error by performing tests as part of quality assurance. These are also automated using tools such as Selenium, which specialises in web applications. Other examples are Apache Airflow or UiPath, which help to automate workflows.

Documentation and communication

Creating and updating documentation also falls within the remit of automation engineers. Last but not least, the role also has a communicative dimension.

To do their job properly, automation engineers need to work with business units and their respective experts. This is the only way to find out how IT automation can help existing processes in the company. To do this, they gather requirements and feedback from users and customers alike.

The skills and tools of IT automation engineers

IT automation specialists need a whole range of hard skills from the tech sector.

  • This includes sound coding skills with languages such as C#, Java, Python etc.
  • Knowledge of the widespread CI/CD processes and the associated pipeline tools is also required.
  • Approaches from project management are also important when it comes to agile development of cloud solutions or automation in the context of the DevOps paradigm.
  • Other typical tools for automation engineers in the area of test automation that we haven’t mentioned yet include Cypress, LambdaTest and Rainforest.

Interacting with the business sector as well as with developers and users of IT automation also requires soft skills such as the ability to communicate. In addition, there are personal skills that are important for all IT experts – such as analytical and critical-thinking as well as problem-solving capabilities.

How to become an IT automation engineer

As with many current IT roles, there’s no specific degree for IT automation engineers. The typical requirement is a degree in computer science, but technical training is also sometimes accepted in job ads. An interest in and knowledge of databases, statistics, artificial intelligence, CI/CD, cloud and container technology are usually required.

It’s possible to hone your profile by obtaining relevant certifications. In the field of test automation, for example, you could complete the IIST Certified Software Test Automation Specialist (CSTAS). Numerous courses in the field of software testing aim at certification according to the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB).

IT automation engineer: Salary and job hunting

Automation is a key topic of digital transformation. After all, this is the only way to scale new, data-driven products and services efficiently. The demand for IT automation engineers is correspondingly strong and likely to increase in the future. The earnings potential is also impressive: newcomers can expect around £30,000 per year, with experienced applicants expected to achieve an average of £50,000 per annum. Depending on the industry and company, this figure could be significantly higher.

Are you interested in a career as an IT automation engineer – or in other exciting IT roles? Then we recommend you leverage the job expertise of an independent IT professional like Experis when looking for a job. You can search for suitable positions via our job portal. You can also decide for yourself how you would like to work: directly with well-known companies, as a freelancer for specific projects or on a temporary basis with changing customers.

Browse all our available opportunities now.