Instrumentation technicians assist equipment engineers in various industries like food processing, electricity, and petroleum. For those interested in this career role, degree options at the undergraduate level include a two year associate's in instrumentation technology and a four year Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Engineering. These programs emphasize automation and instrumentation design, electronics theory, and applied mathematics, and culminate in a capstone project or cooperative education experience.
Associate's coursework covers topics such as calibration, automated equipment, and report writing. Bachelor's curriculum trains students how to apply engineering principles and technical skills to develop vital control and measurement systems. Both programs require students to have a high school diploma or GED and satisfactory standardized test scores.
Associate's Degree in Instrumentation Technology
Associate's-level instrumentation technology programs involve intensive studies in mathematics, applied sciences, and technology. Some examples of core course topics are:
- Applied mathematics
- Electronics theory
- Data collection and analysis
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Bachelor of Science in Engineering
A bachelor's degree in engineering includes advanced courses in the design of electronic instruments used in the facility operations of factories, hospitals, power plants, and the like. Sample class subjects include:
- Testing and scheduling
- Automated equipment
- Applied industrial tasks
- Report preparation
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Only bachelor's level graduates are able to work as instrumentation engineers; an associate's degree only qualifies students for engineering assistant positions. Depending on which field they work in, instrumentation engineers can also be known as electrical and electronic engineering technicians and industrial engineering technicians. These positions are typically found in industries that require automated processes, like chemical or manufacturing plants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electrical and electronic engineering technicians earned a mean salary of $61,870 as of May 2015, while industrial engineering technicians made $56,320. Also, industrial engineering technicians are expected to see employment decline at a rate of 5% over 2014-2024.
In instrumentation technology associate's and bachelor's degree programs, students learn about the design, operation and application of equipment and instruments through traditional coursework and direct experience opportunities. There are many job opportunities for graduates from either program, though bachelor's holders will have more options and higher mobility.