Top 5 Automation Engineering Courses to Study Online

Level up your career with automation engineering courses online! Master in-demand skills like RPA, robots, and AI in our Top 5 picks. Automate the future, today!

Automation engineering has seen tremendous growth in recent years, especially with the adoption of new technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things.

Machine Learning for Automation

As companies across industries aim to optimize and automate various processes, the demand for skilled automation engineers has increased significantly in South Africa. Studying online “automation engineering courses” is an excellent way to build expertise in this high-demand field while enjoying the flexibility and affordability of digital education.

Earlier, we wrote about “How to Become an Automation Engineer in South Africa“. This article will highlight some of the top online automation engineering courses available for students in South Africa.

Whether you are looking to specialize in a niche domain like robotic process automation or want to gain broad-based skills in industrial automation, there are diverse learning options to suit your career goals. Studying these courses can open up exciting job opportunities in automation and also allow you to work on innovative projects that leverage cutting-edge technologies. The skills gained will enable you to boost productivity, reduce errors, and streamline operations in any industry.

We will specifically cover five popular automation engineering courses that provide hands-on learning using real-world tools and platforms. For each course, we will outline the key topics covered, duration, fees, and learning outcomes.

We will also include images of tools and platforms used in these courses for a visual guide. By the end of this article, you will have a clear overview of the best online courses to launch or advance your automation engineering career in South Africa. Whether you are a student, working professional, or hobbyist, there are flexible and affordable options to gain industry-relevant skills in automation without needing to enroll in a full-time campus degree.

Top 5 Automation Engineering Courses

1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Developer

Robotic process automation (RPA) is transforming how companies operate by automating repetitive, rules-based tasks previously done manually. RPA tools can be easily configured to integrate with existing applications and mimic human actions like data entry, allowing businesses to automate processes rapidly without deep programming expertise.

Some popular automation engineering courses that teach RPA skills in South Africa include:

  • Uipath RPA Developer Certification – This course covers core concepts like process mapping, designing robots, orchestrators, and automation workflows with UiPath Studio. The 1-2 month online program has project-based learning.
  • Blue Prism Professional Developer Certification – Learners gain skills to develop bots, apply design patterns, integrate AI capabilities, and deploy Blue Prism RPA solutions. The 3-4 month online course has hands-on labs.
  • Automation Anywhere RPA Developer Certification – This course provides training in AA’s RPA platform to build, test, and manage software bots. The 2-3 month program has instructor-led virtual classes.

These courses range from R5,000 – R15,000 in fees depending on their duration and depth of content. By completing RPA certification, learners can work as automation developers, RPA engineers, bot scripters, and related roles.

Top 5 Automation Engineering Courses to Study Online - RPA Courses

You might also want to learn about “Automation Engineer Salary in South Africa“. This article explains everything you would like to know about the salaries of Automation Engineers.

2. Industrial Automation and Control Systems

Industrial facilities like manufacturing plants, oil and gas refineries, and power stations rely heavily on automation technologies to optimize and monitor complex industrial processes. Key skills needed in this domain include programmable logic controllers (PLCs), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, and industrial networking.

Some of the top online automation engineering courses that teach these skills include:

  • Introduction to Industrial Automation from; the University of Cape Town – This 6-week online course covers PLC programming, process control, sensors, SCADA systems, and automation safety protocols. Learners can enroll for free or pay to earn a certificate.
  • Industrial Automation Specialization from Nelson Mandela University – This 5-course program dives deep into PLCs, industrial networking, process control, robotics, and IoT integration. Each course is 8 weeks long with virtual labs.
  • Industrial Automation with Allen Bradley PLCs from Udemy – A hands-on course using RSLogix 5000 to program Allen Bradley PLCs for real-world industrial tasks like tank level monitoring, batch mixing etc.

The fees for paid industrial automation programs range from R5,000 – R20,000 based on their scope and certifications. Learners can gain skills to work as industrial automation technicians, process control engineers, manufacturing engineers, and related roles.

Top 5 Automation Engineering Courses to Study Online - Control board

3. Internet of Things (IoT) and Automation

The integration of automation technologies with Internet of Things (IoT) enables collecting and analyzing real-time data from connected devices to drive intelligent automation across infrastructure and processes.

Some key online courses to learn IoT-driven automation include:

  • IoT and Industry 4.0 Specialization by University of Colorado Boulder – This 4-course program covers IoT networking, embedded systems, data analytics, and smart factories through virtual labs and projects. Each course is 4 weeks long.
  • Building IoT Solutions with Azure Specialty Certification – Offered by Microsoft, this course teaches how to develop secure IoT solutions on Azure using services like IoT Hub, Edge, and Time Series Insights. The learning time is around 5-10 hours.
  • IoT and Automation Courses on Coursera – Platforms like Coursera offer various courses on IoT topics like wireless networking, automation, edge computing, and cloud integration. Duration can range from a few weeks to months.

The paid IoT and automation programs range from R2,000 – R10,000 depending on their scope. Learners can gain skills for roles like IoT solutions architect, IoT developer, automation engineer, and more.

Internet of Things (IoT) and Automation

4. Python for Automation

Python is one of the most popular languages used by automation engineers due to its simplicity, versatility, and extensive libraries suited for automation tasks.

Some of the key online courses to learn Python for automation include:

  • Automate the Boring Stuff with Python on Udemy – A hands-on course covering Python basics and automation modules like Selenium, GUI automation with PyAutoGUI, web scraping with Beautiful Soup etc.
  • Python for Everybody Specialization on Coursera – A beginner-friendly introduction to Python programming and applications in automation – web scraping, databases, GUI automation.
  • Python 3 Programming Specialization on edX – An intermediate 5-course specialization by Cisco covering core Python, GUI development, web scraping, test automation, and automation on Cisco platforms.
  • Python for Automation Bundle on Zenva – Covers Python foundations, web and desktop automation, Excel automation with openpyxl, email automation, PDF manipulation and more.

The paid Python automation courses range from R150 per course on platforms like Udemy and Coursera, to R5,000-R10,000 for comprehensive bundles and multi-course programs. These equip learners with Python skills for automation roles.

Python for Automation

5. Machine Learning for Automation

Machine learning is being increasingly integrated into industrial and enterprise automation systems to add predictive capabilities and intelligent decision making.

Some online courses to get started with machine learning for automation include:

  • Machine Learning by Stanford University on Coursera – A beginner-friendly course covering core concepts like supervised learning, dimensionality reduction, neural networks, reinforcement learning, and their applications.
  • Machine Learning Engineering for Production Specialization by on Coursera – An intermediate-level 4-course specialization covering MLOps, ML infrastructure, deployment of models, and capstone project.
  • Applied Machine Learning in Python by University of Michigan on edX – Teaches machine learning techniques using Python-based tools like scikit-learn, Pandas, TensorFlow for tasks like process automation.
  • Machine Learning A-Z by Udemy – A comprehensive course covering data preprocessing, model building, natural language processing, computer vision algorithms and Python implementations.

Paid certification costs range from R200 for intro courses to R15,000 for in-depth programs. Learners can gain skills to work as ML Engineers, Data Scientists, and drive automation using AI.

Course FocusSkills GainedPlatformsTime Commitment
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) DeveloperAutomate repetitive tasks, boost efficiencyUiPath, Blue Prism3-6 months
Industrial Automation & Control SystemsMaster PLCs, SCADA, & industrial networksUCT, NMU4-8 months
IoT & AutomationBuild & implement smart solutionsVarious providers3-12 months
Python for AutomationCode powerful automation scriptsCoursera, Udemy2-4 months
Machine Learning for AutomationLeverage AI for smarter, adaptive systemsedX, Udacity3-6 months

You should also read about “How Coding and Robotics is Changing Lives in South Africa“.


Automation engineering is a highly promising field to build a career in today’s digital era. The online courses highlighted in this article offer flexible and accessible options to gain in-demand skills in automation domains like RPA, industrial automation, IoT, Python programming, and machine learning.

Learners can choose from a wide range of automation engineering courses based on their specific career goals, experience levels, and availability of time and budget. Beginners can start with introductory courses to learn fundamentals, while experienced professionals can enroll in advanced programs to specialize further.

By completing relevant certifications and hands-on projects, automation engineering aspirants in South Africa can significantly boost their employability and work on impactful projects. The job roles that these courses prepare you for are also well-compensated due to high industry demand.

We hope this article provides useful guidance to our readers for selecting the right online learning platforms and courses to kickstart or advance their automation engineering journey.

Make sure to research the course content, fees, and credentials offered before enrolling. We also invite readers to share their feedback on their experiences with the automation engineering courses mentioned here or recommend other good programs worth considering.

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