What is hydraulic and pneumatic automation technology? (Click to open)
Fluid power speeds up and automates repetitious tasks in virtually all industrial
production, food processing and packaging. Two types of fluids are used to
automate machinery: compressed air, called pneumatics, and pressurized
oil, or hydraulics.
Hydraulic-powered machines make the plastic containers for liquids like milk, shampoo
and motor oil, and a wide range of packaging for foods such as fresh fruits and pizza
crust. Because fluid power is less expensive and faster than manual power, it contributes
to cost-effective mass production of concrete blocks, plywood, plastic toys and electronic
circuit boards. And, it keeps the price tags low for consumers.
What is this field like?
Hydraulic and pneumatic automation technology is a growing field with excellent pay and plenty of job
opportunities all over the world.
Most of our graduates choose to stay in the Northwest, but others have
taken their skills to positions in France, Russia, England, China, Norway, Sweden and
Graduates of SCC's Hydraulic and Pneumatic Automation Technology program have worked on the supercollider project in
Texas, on the tunnel-boring project under the English Channel, in the diamond mines of
South Africa, and for the fishing and seafood processing industries on Kodiak Island,
What does SCC offer in hydraulic and pneumatic automation training?
We offer two program options: Hydraulic and Pneumatic Automation
Technician and Hydraulic and Pneumatic Automation Technology Specialist. Each
program takes six quarters to complete, and graduates earn an Associate in Applied Science
Hydraulic and Pneumatic Automation Technician students concentrate their studies in one of two areas:
- Mechanical installation and repair of hydraulic/pneumatic components prepares students
for jobs in industrial plant maintenance and field service. This area is ideal if you
enjoy working with your hands to repair equipment or to fabricate and assemble new
- Technical sales and design prepares students for inside technical sales, outside
technical sales and hydraulic/pneumatic circuit design. This area is for you if you like
working with customers to decrease machine downtime or to increase a machine's speed and
efficiency. The work involves creating new circuits to match customer needs and
calculating or sizing circuit components to meet speed and force requirements.
Hydraulic and Pneumatic Automation Technology Specialist students develop a background in the electronic control
of hydraulic and pneumatic valves so they can assist in the design and assembly of electronically-controlled fluid
power systems. They become qualified to troubleshoot and maintain these automated systems.
Graduates from both program options can earn national certification from the Fluid Power Society by passing a
three-hour test. Both the test and pretest seminar are offered at SCC. Certification offers employers evidence of
a graduate's overall skill level and usually results in a higher starting wage for the graduate.
What classes will I take?
All students take courses in job communication skills, leadership, basic computer skills, and industrial first aid.
In their first year, hydraulic technician and hydraulic specialist students study hydraulics and pneumatic theory,
then work in labs where they explore fluid power circuits through hands-on experience.
Courses include basic sketching and drawing techniques, blueprint reading, acetylene welding, and electrical control
of hydraulic and pneumatic valves.
Second-year students select either technology or specialist options. Students who wish to take both fluid power
options may do so by completing three additional quarters, thereby earning two A.A.S. degrees.
Hydraulic and Pneumatic Automation Technician students learn advanced fluid power circuits and circuit design,
machine shop skills (including machine shop theory and machine speeds/feeds calculations), component repair,
programmable controllers, arc welding, hydraulic component testing, and fluid line fabrication.
Students in the Hydraulic and Pneumatic Automation Technology Specialist option study basic DC and AC electronics,
digital electronics, solid state electronics, and micro-processors. They also learn about electronically-controlled
valves used in fluid power and the electronic circuit boards used for control.
Where can I get a job?
Hydraulic and pneumatic automation technology positions exist with companies all over the world, and there are more jobs
than graduates to fill them. Women and nontraditional students have excellent placement in the fluid power industry.
Although the job market in Spokane is highly competitive, most of our graduates remain in the Northwest and work in
manufacturing, mining, fishing, wood products and food processing industries.
Graduates may specialize in distributor sales, system design, plant maintenance and troubleshooting, and the manufacture
and installation of automated machinery.
Please visit the
SCC Student Success and Career Services site
for more information on finding employment.
How can I hire an SCC Hydraulic and Pneumatic Automation Technology graduate?