A process control instrumentation specialist works with complex equipment and machinery that are vital components of a company's operations. They perform a number of functions, often in the engineering field, such as calibration, programming, maintenance, repairs, and safety inspections. A two-year engineering degree is the minimum requirement by many employers, and job candidates with relevant work experience and a Professional Engineer license may have an advantage over other job seekers.
Process control instrumentation specialists install, operate, maintain, and repair complex technical equipment required in the jobs of scientists and other skilled laborers. Armed with a bachelor's degree and experience they've picked up through co-op student work experiences, they can find employment in many different sectors of the job market, but typically work in engineering fields. Salary projections for the job are favorable. Job candidates who also hold a Professional Engineer (PE) license may also have improved job prospects; licensure requires a minimum of work experience and two exams.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Relevant experience; Professional Engineer (PE) license can be helpful|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||-1% for electronics engineers, except computer electronics*|
|Median Annual Salary (2018)||$102,700 for electronics engineers, except computer electronics engineers*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies mechanical workers involved in signal processing and control systems as electronics engineers (www.bls.gov). That same agency reported that in May 2018, electronics engineers earned a median annual salary of $102,700. That same year, California, Texas, and Colorado employed the most electronics engineers, while the District of Columbia, California, and Massachusetts had the highest annual mean wages in the industry.
Scientists and other skilled laborers often work with complex machinery on a day-to-day basis. Instrumentation specialists are in charge of all things relating to the use and maintenance of those machines. Companies employ instrumentation specialists to take care of expensive technical equipment that's crucial to the company's continued operations.
Instrumentation specialists install and program new machinery when their employers require it. They check that all machines operate within established safety guidelines and schedule regular maintenance on existing technology, including conducting repairs if necessary. These specialists run tests to ensure machines are calibrated correctly so that data is gathered and reported properly. They may keep records on their machines' operation and may operate the machines themselves. Some companies task specialists with teaching other employees how to use the technology at hand. An instrumentation specialist may also be responsible for finding new, better technology to replace existing equipment.
Electronics engineers, who often work as instrumentation specialists, may work in many industries. The BLS notes that fields like communications, aviation, and signal processing employ specialists to maintain their equipment. Similarly, a September 2019 survey of open instrumentation specialist job postings on Monster.com turned up jobs in areas like the medical field and even industrial manufacturing. Regardless of the field, many jobs require at least a two-year college degree in engineering, if not a bachelor's degree.
Process control instrumentation specialists need to be able to understand highly complex machinery, performing repairs when needed and ensuring equipment continues to run smoothly. As of May 2018, the average annual salary for these professionals was $107,930, with bachelor's degree holders having greater job opportunities.