Most calibration technicians are taught on-the job, although a few programs do exist at technical and vocational schools that may give a job candidate the upper hand. Get information on salary prospects, job growth potential and professional certifications.
Calibration technicians maintain, test and repair a variety of instrumentation and equipment. Their primary job is to make sure that instruments, gauges and testing devices are calibrated correctly and give accurate readings. Most calibration technicians work in the engineering field for manufacturing companies. Some are also employed by government agencies, or by architectural and engineering firms. Other technicians may work for contract firms or for vendors.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED|
|Other Requirements||On-the-job training most common but certifications available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||2% decline (electrical and electronics engineering technicians)*|
|Median Annual Salary (2016)||$45,420**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics **Salary.com
Calibration Technician Job Description
Calibration technicians work with a variety of sophisticated machinery, including analytical and electronic measuring devices, recording and indicating instruments, and electrical, mechanical and electromechanical equipment. They may work in heavy manufacturing environments, where they are subject to loud noise and other workplace hazards. Shift-work is usually required of calibration technicians, which means that individuals work either first, second or third shift.
Science is a big part of a calibration job, but it's also important to have good communication skills, since calibration technicians report the results of their tests to engineers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), calibration technicians, along with other inspectors, need to have good vision, math skills and sharp eye-hand coordination (www.bls.gov). Another important skill for calibration technicians is the ability to analyze and interpret data and other information in order to complete calibration procedures.
According to Salary.com, most calibration technicians with fewer than two years of experience were making between $40,493 and $52,024 annually in July 2016. In that same month, the base salary range for more experienced technicians was reported as $56,952 to $72,926 (www.salary.com).
The tasks of a calibration technician vary, but mostly include calibrating instruments and troubleshooting, installing and repairing mechanical components. In many jobs, a calibration technician works closely with electrical apparatuses and should also have knowledge of electricity and circuitry. In addition, calibration technicians have to be able to set up laboratory and testing equipment. Depending on the company's size, a calibration technician may also be responsible for working with vendors and ordering the necessary parts for a repair.
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Other than a high school diploma or GED, there are not many educational requirements for becoming a calibration technician. The BLS reports that many employers prefer to train calibration technicians on the job, although there are postsecondary schools that offer training programs. Some colleges also offer associate degrees in calibration technology, or 4-year degrees in related technical disciplines. Many companies look for job applicants with experience in the manufacturing industry, as well as knowledge of the technical standards for establishing calibration set out by the American Society of Testing and Materials (www.astm.org).
In addition to learning industry best practices, some calibration technicians can earn a certification to gain a competitive edge. Technical and trade schools typically offer general career training courses, as well as courses used to work towards becoming a certified calibration technician. The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers 15 certifications for people who work in quality control, including a Certified Calibration Technician (www.asq.org).
Manufacturing jobs in general are decreasing or experiencing very little growth, according to the BLS. This decline will affect calibration technicians, since the majority of these professionals work for manufacturers. Improvements in manufacturing technology, as well as automated inspection and testing procedures are key reasons for this job decrease. Another factor in this job loss trend is the continuing practice of relocating U.S. manufacturing processes to other countries. The BLS notes that job prospects will be better for highly skilled workers and for technicians who work in areas of manufacturing that are still expanding, including the pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries.
Calibration technicians are trained to calibrate instruments and to assemble, repair, and troubleshoot mechanical pieces. This job market is closely tied to the manufacturing industry, so the number of jobs available is based on whether the industry is growing or shrinking. Certification for calibration technicians is available through the ASQ, which can help a calibration technician find work in their job field.