What you need to do to excel as an RPA developer depends on what you know about RPA:
- I am undecided about becoming an RPA developer. Help me decide
- I want to become an RPA developer. Where do I start?
- I am an experienced RPA developer. How do I get better?
For those undecided about becoming an RPA developer:
RPA is the fastest growing enterprise technology
According to Gartner, RPA is the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market. Unsuprisingly, Interest in RPA has been steadily increasing in the past 5 years. Read more to see even more evidence on RPA’s growth
Source: Google TrendsWe summarized all major industry analysts’ estimates about the RPA market and there is consensus about RPA retaining its momentum into the next few years.
RPA is booming because work is becoming more complex as machines are becoming smarter
3 factors contributed to the rise of RPA which puts companies leveraging RPA at an advantage and pushes other companies to adapt the technology to compete effectively:
- Employees today use a larger number of tools compared to the past. It is not feasible to automate all those tools and their interactions with simple macros
- Advances in computer vision enabled automation in every enterprise setting, including remote desktops
- RPA alternatives such as outsourcing no longer creates benefits as most benefits of outsourcing have been reaped
To learn more, read our article on why RPA is relevant now
Learning curve for RPA software is low
RPA programming is easier to learn than most programming languages as it is the highest level programming language
Interestingly, we couldn’t find reliable sources on measurements of learning curves for different programming languages. However, a fact of programming is that the lower level a programming language is, the more difficult it is to learn and to program in. For example, no one would categorize assembly as an easy to learn programming language today as it forces programmers to think about memory storage or the order in which their code will be executed at a lower level than they need to in any modern programming language.
RPA is a really high level programming language as most of its instructions tend to be about manipulating items on the screen, processing data and passing data to different systems. What RPA software tends to do with a line of code would take multiple lines in most other languages.
Average RPA programmers tend to be paid competitively compared to most professions though relatively low compared to other developers
Experience and location are the most important criteria in determining salaries for similar roles.Neuvoo is one of the largest job post websites and provides average salary per role. According to Neuvoo, these are the average salaries by country. We also shared top and bottom end of the ranges to give you an idea of how experience impacts salary:
|Country||Median salary||Lowest salary||Highest salary|
While RPA developer wage is competitive, it is a bit below developers of other, more general purpose programming languages.Neuvoo is one of the largest job post websites and provides average salary per role. According to Neuvoo, these are the average salaries by country. We also shared top and bottom end of the ranges to give you an idea of how experience impacts salary:
|Country||Median salary||Lowest salary ($k)||Highest salary ($k)|
RPA developer opportunities are increasing faster than similar opportunities
Though an RPA developer is not the best paid developer, RPA is an emerging field, therefore there is a lack of qualified RPA developers in the market. This makes it easier to be hired as an RPA developer.
Just about 3 years ago, in the beginning of 2017, RPA development was not a keyword searched on Google in the US or India while now it is searched on Google more than 1k times in both countries
However, being a developer is not the only way to jump on the RPA bandwagon
RPA is a technology for programming process automation and as with any process related software project, these roles are important for a successful RPA project:
- Business analyst / process analyst / designer: Though this position has numerous names, it essentially handles the business related aspects of automation. Process analyst understands the current process, identifies both improvement and automation opportunities and performs a zero based design of the process. Required skills and experience include
- Strong problem-solving and analytical skills so analyst can understand the process and redesign it
- Knowledge of or experience with capabilities of RPA software, process analysis, process optimization (e.g. lean or six sigma methodologies), design thinking, gathering business and technical requirements requirements analysis and User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
- Business Analyst / Process analyst / designer: They can also use process mining to understand actual processes and identify the best processes to integrate RPA solutions. QPR shares that process mining can improve RPA business value by 44%.
- Project manager: As in any project, RPA projects also require project management activities such as ensuring that requirements are completed, that project is completed within schedule and budget. In especially smaller RPA projects, a project manager is expected to manage multiple projects. Required skills and experience include
- At least 2-3 years of professional experience
- Project management experience or a firm understanding of project management tasks such as risk assessment, client communication etc.
- A sample project manager posting from Capgemini:
For those starting to become an RPA developer:
RPA is still an emerging industry and there are numerous solutions in the marketplace. The first thing to do is to decide on a platform on which to build your RPA developer skills. RPA tools achieve similar outcomes (backend or desktop automation) so choice of tool is important but not critical. Basic RPA concepts are shared across tools.
First, choose your RPA platforms
RPA platforms are built on programming languages and you can become proficient in an RPA platform faster if you are already experienced with the underlying technology
All RPA platforms have Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) but it helps to know the underlying technology of the tool because especially in complex processes, developers need to customize their bots using the underlying programming language of the RPA tool.
We can help you choose among the most popular RPA platforms based on the programming languages you are familiar with. If you are
- a Python programmer, you can start with Argos Labs which recently launched a plugin marketplace and allows developers to build plugins with almost no effort from existing Python code
- a .NET programmer, you can start with UiPath or Automation Anywhere’s community editions which are the most popular RPA tools
- a Java programmer, you can start with Automation Anywhere
- not yet an RPA programmer or have experience in all of these languages, you can start with any of the leading RPA providers. Almost all RPA tools have community editions. We prepared a sortable list of all RPA tools with an indication of whether they have a free trial/community edition.
To proceed in the platform that you chose, you have two options. If you
- want to learn programming with RPA, learn about all RPA training/certification programs [Separate Article]
- know basic programming concepts, you can start developing RPA bots straight away using these resources
Most RPA software platforms provide plenty of free material to guide you through building your first bot. Here we list all such resources:
Get employed as an RPA developer
There are 3 types of employment opportunities for RPA developers:
1- RPA companies
Most RPA companies support companies, especially large companies, as they build bots and automate processes
2- Implementation partners of RPA companies
System integrators, professional services companies and other niche RPA consultants provide RPA development services to other companies. They use RPA software companies’ technology. These companies are the largest employers of RPA developers.
Candidates can track major companies’ (such as Big 4 and IBM) RPA developer postings from their own websites. Regarding smaller consultants, candidates should use job posting aggregators like indeed.
3- End users of RPA
Companies using RPA to automate their own processes also rely on RPA developers. Companies typically form Centers of Excellence (CoEs) to aggregate internal RPA talent. While most of these companies do not employ large numbers of RPA developers, in total this category is the largest employer of RPA developers.
Since there are many companies in this category, candidates should use job posting aggregators like indeed to track opportunities in this category
4- Other technology companies
For example, automated document processing companies like Hypatos leverages RPA developers while deploying their solution to end users. This enables them to deploy their solution fast without a complex integration process.
For experienced RPA developers:
Establish credibility by publishing plugins and bots
Using RPA tools to build bots is the first step in RPA development. Creating reusable and configurable solutions for the community helps build a developer’s credibility and enables her to monetize her RPA code base.
RPA platforms are like operating systems in the sense that they need to integrate with a large number of different software and perform a wide variety of functions. Like operating system providers (e.g. Microsoft, Apple), most RPA platforms also rely on marketplaces to enable their ecosystem to build customized, reusable solutions. Read our up-to-date guide on RPA marketplaces to learn more