Become an Instrument Engineer: Education and Career Info

Sep 24, 2019

Working in a number of industries, such as paper and steel manufacturing, food processing and oil refining, an instrument engineer is responsible for the design, set up, and calibration of industry equipment. They may be tasked with working with electronic devices or pneumatic equipment. The first step in becoming an instrument engineer is to earn a bachelor's and/or master's degree in instrumentation engineering technology.

Essential Information

An instrument engineer designs, installs and calibrates electronic and pneumatic equipment. Those who want to pursue a career in this field must enroll in a bachelor's degree program in instrumentation engineering technology. Employment opportunities might be available in the food processing, chemical processing and energy production industries.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree in instrumentation engineering technology
Other Requirements Engineers working for the public must be licensed
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 4% (for all mechanical engineers)
Median Salary (2018)* $87,370 (for all mechanical engineers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Info

Students interested in pursuing a career as an instrument engineer must graduate with a bachelor's degree in instrumentation engineering technology. These programs require students to complete courses, lab sessions and internships. Courses focus on instruments and transducers, automation, electrical power systems and process modeling. While a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for becoming an engineer, many individuals choose to continue their education in a master's degree program.

Whether through a graduate program or individual classes, continuing education is necessary for engineers to keep up with growing technologies. Even after they're employed, engineers typically continue to receive on-the-job training. Advancements often come to employees who have experience, formal training and certifications. Some states also require continuing education for license renewal.

Career Info

Instrument engineers are employed in a range of industries, including oil refining and gas processing, paper and steel manufacturing, power plants, food processing and offshore exploration. Because these engineers provide services to the public, they must be licensed.

Though licensure requirements vary by state, graduates of accredited engineering programs typically must first take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Those who pass are referred to as engineers in training (EITs) or a related term. After gaining work experience, they can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, which often is the final step in the licensure process. Those who pass earn the professional engineer (PE) designation. Several professional organizations also offer voluntary certification programs for engineers.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of mechanical engineers was expected to grow by 4 percent between 2018 and 2028 ( In May of 2018, the BLS reported that the annual median salary of mechanical engineers was $87,370.

Instrument engineers hold bachelor's or master's degrees and must continue with some form of education even after they are employed in order to maintain a current knowledge of new technologies. Licensure is required, obtained through a combination of exams and work experience. Mechanical engineers can expect to experience a 4% increase in job opportunities over the 2018-2028 decade, according to the BLS.

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