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Instrumentation Design Engineer: Job Description and Requirements

Sep 26, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an instrumentation design engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and salary information to find out if this is the career for you.

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Professionals in all industries use instruments to measure readings, and instrumentation design engineers create and build those unique instruments. Most of these professionals have bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering, but these individuals may need additional industry experience or specialty training if they wish to design instrumentation that is used in particular fields.

Essential Information

An instrumentation design engineer is involved in developing various kinds of instruments for measuring, monitoring and collecting data. They may develop instruments for research or for use in a variety of fields. A degree in engineering is generally required; while a bachelor's is sufficient for entering the field, some employers may require a master's degree. Engineer licensure may be needed as well, depending on the job.

Required Education Bachelor's degree at minimum; master's degree for some jobs
Licensure Professional Engineer (PE) licensure may be required or preferred by employers
Projected Job Growth (2018 - 2028) 2%* between (for electrical and electronics engineers)
Median Salary (2018) $96,640* (for electrical engineers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for an Instrumentation Design Engineer

An instrumentation design engineer may create instruments for a wide variety of uses, examples include laboratory and on-site scientific research, spacecraft instrumentation, golf equipment evaluation, simulators such as for training nuclear propulsion plant operators, electromechanical optical systems, gauges and sensors. Industries employing instrumentation design engineers are just as varied, examples include oil refineries, marine science, water management, heavy machinery, nuclear plants and neuroscience medical research. Instruments can vary from simple mechanical measuring tools to complex software systems.

An instrumentation design engineer may be responsible for various duties during the creation and development of instruments, such as drawing, creating prototypes, testing, troubleshooting and installing. The engineer may work with clients to develop requested products. Instrumentation design engineers need to be familiar with engineering principles, measurement methods, statistical analysis, mathematics and physics. They may be involved in teamwork and may be responsible for training other engineers. They may be responsible for documentation for cost estimates, material specifications, progress reports or other needed documentation.

Requirements for an Instrumentation Design Engineer

Employers usually require a bachelor's degree in engineering, and may require a master's degree. They may prefer degrees in specific engineering disciplines, depending on the industry and employer. Electrical engineering is one discipline commonly requested by employers. A bachelor's degree in electrical engineering may have courses on logic design, semiconductors, system design, physics, devices and circuits, circuit design, microcontrollers, electromagnetics, nanoelectronics, mathematics and microprocessor systems.

Other requirements by employers of instrumentation design engineers may include experience in the specific field or industry. Familiarity with design software, including AutoCAD, may be preferred. A few employers may prefer engineers with professional engineer licensure. This is granted by the state, and requirements generally include a degree from an engineering program that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET, four years of work experience and passing the state examination.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of electrical engineers is predicted to experience 2% growth from 2018 to 2028, which is slower than average. In May of 2018, the BLS reported that electrical engineers had a median annual salary of $96,640.

Instrumentation design engineers create, design, test, and install instrumentation devices used in practically all industries worldwide. Employers prefer candidates to have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering or something related, although graduate degrees and state licensure may be required as well. Job growth in this industry is expected to have little change during the 2018-2028 decade, according to the BLS.

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