|Program Levels||Certificate programs, associate's degree|
|Field(s) of Study||Instrumentation technology|
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent; strong background in math and science|
|Program Length||1-2 years for certificate programs; 2 years for associate's degrees|
|Key Skills||Troubleshooting, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||2% decline (for electrical and electronic engineering technicians)|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$61,130 (for electrical and electronic engineering technicians)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Many community colleges offer certificate and associate's degree programs in instrumentation technology, and these programs primarily focus on the maintenance and repair of electronic and electrical systems. The standard admission requirement for both programs is a high school diploma or its GED equivalent, and applicants should have good math and science skills.
Certificates typically take about one year to earn and require no general education coursework. Associate's programs are usually two years in length and include both general education and hands-on lab courses. Graduates of these programs may be prepared for work as engineering technicians.
A certificate program in instrumentation technology can be completed in one to two years of full-time study. Instruction is provided on how to maintain control and process measurement systems commonly used in chemical plants, wastewater treatment facilities, and other industrial plants and refineries. Topics include AC and DC motors, calibration of instruments, motor control, and logic controllers. Generally, there are no internship requirements for a certificate program in instrumentation technology, and students are not required to complete any general education classes.
The curriculum for a certificate in instrumentation technology program may closely mirror that of a program for electronics. However, students enrolled in an instrumentation technology certificate program generally complete core courses in their final semester, such as:
- Methods of wiring
- Instrument application code
- Digital devices
- System troubleshooting
- Critical thinking
- System integration
Associate of Applied Science Degree Programs
An Associate of Applied Science in Instrumentation Technology is structured similarly to a certificate program in the field, with the inclusion of general education courses. An associate's degree program may also allow students to specialize in a particular industry area where instrumentation technicians are needed. Some of the skills taught in such a program include maintenance of electrical systems and instruments, and control device calibration. Students also learn to install new control and electronic instrumentation and parts. Troubleshooting is a key skill, and students sharpen their problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities by participating in laboratory exercises. Some associate's degree programs may also require the completion of an internship to graduate.
Completion of an associate's degree in instrumentation technology requires satisfactory grades in general education courses. These courses are taken during the first year; core classes and laboratories are taken in the second. Core class topics include:
- Process measurement systems
- Pneumatics and hydraulics
- Management systems for equipment
- Electronics and electricity
Popular Career Options
A certificate program in instrumentation technology prepares graduates for entry-level careers in the field. Possible job titles include:
- Instrumentation technician
- Electronics technician
- Engineering technician
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of electrical and electronic engineering technicians is expected to decline by 2% for the 2014-2024 period. The BLS reported in May 2015 that the median annual salary earned by these technicians was $61,130.
Instrumentation certificate and degree programs allow students to learn the skills necessary to work as electrical and electronic engineering technicians.