How to become an RPA Developer
Robotic process automation is a fast-growing and highly sought-after professional field. Here’s an introduction to the requirements and responsibilities.
Robotic process automation combines big data, hyperconnectivity, and machine learning to automate routine business processes at practically any scale. It is a critical component of the fourth industrial revolution, which revolves around leveraging automation to drive up efficiency and reduce costs.
Contrary to popular belief, RPA and related technologies are expected to create more jobs than they render obsolete. One of the most important of these emerging job roles is that of the RPA developer. These are the highly skilled and sought-after technical professionals tasked with designing, building, implementing, and maintaining RPA systems that meet the demands of today’s businesses.
Being a relatively new field, talented RPA developers are currently in drastically short supply. In fact, the talent shortage is one of the main barriers to digital transformation and innovation, with almost two thirds of organizations claiming it to be a key concern. Despite this, as many as 90% of organizations still hope to deploy RPA by the end of 2022.
Given these key trends, there has never been a better time to be an RPA developer. In this article, we will look at what it takes to become an RPA developer, before exploring their various roles and responsibilities.
What are the main skills RPA developers need?
Most job placements require candidates to have a degree in computer science. Despite being a primarily technical discipline, RPA developers must possess a variety of hard and soft skills. These are the most important hard skills, which can be learned through traditional education and on-the-job training:
- Mastery of one or more industry-leading automation tools, such as UiPath, Automation Anywhere, or Blue Prism.
- Proficiency in one or more major programming languages, such as C, C++, Python, Java, Visual Basic, or Microsoft .NET.
- Intermediate or better understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and concepts.
- Knowledge and experience of database programming languages and formats, such as SQL, NoSQL, PostgreSQL, or Oracle.
- Experience working with major cloud providers, such as AWS or Azure, is especially important for developing web-based RPA solutions.
- Understanding of user experience (UX) principles is essential, because the primary user group will be business-, rather than tech-related.
Furthermore, RPA developers must possess a variety of soft skills, which are a combination of personality traits. These include excellent critical thinking and problem-solving skills, close attention to detail, and the ability to work effectively as a team. RPA developers also need to be able to think beyond the technical nature of their field by garnering a deep understanding of business use cases. Communication is another essential soft skill, since RPA developers will often find themselves in situations where they need to explain highly technical processes in a way that less technical and more business-orientated audiences can understand.
What are the key roles and responsibilities of RPA developers?
RPA developers do not usually work alone, and instead are part of a broader team, especially when working on larger projects. Larger and more complex projects often bring in dedicated RPA business analysts and other specialists like quality control testers and RPA controllers. However, a highly skilled and experienced RPA developer will typically have a strong working knowledge of all these areas. The key roles and responsibilities include:
- Identifying and understanding the business use cases for automation, and designing automated workflows around those needs.
- Process mining to determine how and which business processes are interconnected and where their dependencies lie to explore optimal implementation strategies.
- Setting up automated workflows and testing and monitoring those workflows to ensure optimal efficiency and quality control.
- Monitoring and maintaining automated workflows after implementation to resolve any potential issues and apply any changes needed to adapt to evolving business needs.
- Documenting the entire RPA implementation and maintenance process to outline any mistakes and successes to continuously improve process automation moving forward.
- Correctly managing data according to industry-standard best practices and company policies pertaining to integrity, security, availability, and confidentiality.
How to get started as an RPA developer?
Several of the major providers of automation tools, such as UiPath and Automation Anywhere, provide certification programs for specific RPA-related jobs. UiPath offers two certifications – one for junior RPA specialists in any role, and another for senior RPA experts. Automation Anywhere splits its courses into role-specific areas, such as Citizen Developer, Bot Developer, and Business Analyst.
An RPA certification is highly sought-after by employers looking to assess the competence of applicants. From an employee standpoint, a certification might not be obligatory for working in the industry, but it does greatly expand one’s opportunities and provides a shortcut into the global developer community.
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