Electrician Vs. Instrument Technician

Jan 29, 2018

The work that electricians and instrument technicians do is contrasted in this article. How these careers differ and the training needed for each occupation is explored, as well as some aspects of their work that are similar.

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Comparing Electricians to Instrument Technicians

Electricians and instrument technicians work in different environments, perform different tasks and have different training requirements. While instrument technicians need minimal formal training, electricians must spend several years as an apprentice to earn their license. Electricians earn a notably higher salary due to the dangerous nature of their work and extra training requirements.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Electricians High school diploma or GED and apprenticeship $52,720 9%
Instrument Technicians High school diploma or GED and on-the,-job or vocational school training $34,400 11%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Electricians vs. Instrument Technicians

Electricians use power and hand tools to install the components needed for electrical systems. This may involve putting in light fixtures or other types of equipment. They also run wires through buildings and connect the wiring to power sources. Instrument technicians also operate some equipment, such as steam autoclaves. While electricians may also inspect systems to determine if they are working properly or if repairs are required, instrument technicians inspect medical equipment to see if there are any defects. Electricians repair defective electrical systems while instrument technicians report defective equipment so that it can be repaired by a qualified medical equipment repairer. Electricians may work indoors and outdoors while instrument technicians only work indoors.


Electricians ensure that electrical systems work properly. Some electricians work in factories but most work for contracting companies or in construction. It's common for them to travel to worksites and they may work long hours, including evenings and weekends. They must be strong because they have to carry equipment regularly and hold tools and materials for long periods of time. They also need stamina so that they can stand and climb and crawl throughout their shift.

Job responsibilities of an electrician include:

  • Knowing and following regulations
  • Reviewing technical documents
  • Wiring systems
  • Inspecting malfunctioning systems
  • Repairing defective electrical systems
  • Supervising apprentices

Instrument Technicians

Instrument technicians may work in hospitals, laboratories or other medical facilities. Their job is to ensure that medical equipment is ready to be used. They primarily learn through on-the-job training or a postsecondary certificate program. Those interested in expanding their skills may opt to pursue the training needed to repair medical equipment. They need to have attention to detail because it is very important that medical equipment is properly cleaned before it's used.

Job responsibilities of an instrument technician include:

  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Inspecting equipment
  • Reporting defects in equipment
  • Laying out equipment for use
  • Storing equipment
  • Keeping records of tasks performed

Related Careers

Another career option for those thinking about being electricians is to become a residential HVAC technician because this career also involves repairing electrical systems that are malfunctioning. A career as a surgical technician may also interest those considering becoming an instrument technician because surgical technicians also prepare medical equipment for use.

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