How to Become an Instrumentation and Controls Technician

Learn how to become an instrumentation and controls (I & C) technician. Research the education, career requirements and experience required for starting a career as an I & C technician.

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Should I Become an Instrumentation and Control Technician?

Instrumentation and control technicians apply their knowledge of electrical engineering to monitor and manipulate various machine-run systems. These professionals may also be referred to as electrical technicians. They may work with automated equipment in manufacturing or assembly plants, waste-water treatment facilities and nuclear power plants to measure and monitor operational functioning. The four foundational measurements that instrumentation and control technicians deal with are pressure, flow, level and temperature.

Responsibilities include setting up and testing equipment, analyzing data, sketching plans and writing reports. Electrical technicians might work in a noisy factory setting and have to lift heavy equipment, which can put them at risk for injuries.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Name Industrial Instrumentation, Electronics
Certification Employers may require licensure as a journeyman electrician and/or prefer certification
Experience Employers prefer at least 2-5 years' experience
Key Skills Troubleshooting; physical dexterity; understanding of electrical circuits, wiring diagrams; problem solving.
Salary $62,140 (2015 Median for Instrumentation and Controls Technician)


Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

Many employers in this field prefer to hire employees with at least an associate's degree. Associate's degree programs in industrial instrumentation and control or electronics often feature courses in physics, mathematics, engineering design and automation control. In addition to classroom work, students participate in introductory training and hands-on work through an internship or co-op experience. These provide students with real world experience in the field and help them prepare for employment.

Success Tip

  • Gain electrical experience. Some employers prefer that applicants have electrical training and are qualified to become licensed journeyman electricians. In order to be eligible for this designation, individuals often need to have work experience under the guidance of a Master Electrician. Some states require that individuals pass an examination.

Step 2: Obtain Certification

The International Society of Automation (ISA) offers the Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST) designation. Earning this credential demonstrates a certain level of automation and control knowledge and skills. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) offers several certifications related to electrical engineering technology, including industrial instrumentation, electrical power and security systems.

Step 2: Pursue Career Opportunities

Employment opportunities are available in numerous industries, including architectural and engineering related services, semiconductor and electronics component manufacturing, navigational and control instrument manufacturing and the federal government. Many training programs offer apprenticeship programs; get involved as early with potential employers through apprenticeships.

Step 3: Continue Training and Education to Advance Your Career

With a little extra training and eduction instrumentation and control technicians have many career advancement opportunities. Get a bachelor's degree in engineering, electronics or systems management to open opportunities in positions like control systems engineer, senior systems engineer or master electrician.

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