Instrument Technician

What does an Instrument Technician do?

Job Description

This job involves working with intricately designed instruments that measure the change in the industrial environment. The instrumentation technician is responsible for anything that happens to an instrument. Sometimes they are required to work with laboratory equipment that measures the changes that occur in a test instrument when the humidity, pressure, temperature, stress, vibration and altitude changes. Technicians are also responsible for designing equipment based on certain requirements or getting engineers to create a device according to the designs that he has made and make sure that it works.

Equipment to Deal With

Instrumentation technicians have to work with three different kinds of equipment. The first set is the electro-pneumatic and pneumatic equipment. These devices include flow and temperature transmitters and devices that are started using diaphragms, bellows or pressure springs. The second kind of devices that they have to deal with is hydraulic instrumentation and this includes hydraulic valve operators, hydraulic valves and electro-hydraulic instruments. The third kind of instruments is electronic and electrical equipment. These include computers, recorders, transducers and telemetering devices. Some of this equipment needs special training to operate while others use a general principle that has been covered in your course.

Areas of Employment

Instrumentation technicians are employed in a number of industries. Mechanical technicians deal with machinery and it's working which makes it a labor intensive job. Biomedical instrumentation technician's work with devices used for medical procedures and electromechanical technicians work with machines that are controlled using electronic devices. Some of them will have to work at calibrating instruments while others help in finding out what is causing problems in an instrument and are known as troubleshooting technicians. Instrumentation technicians work in industries like refineries, chemical plants, canneries, power stations, food processing units and water and air pollution monitoring agencies.

On a daily basis technicians will do the following with instrumentation:

- Troubleshoot

- Repair

- Calibrate

- Install

This instrumentation can be anything from a thermostat on the wall to a major computer system.

What is Control?

Control is manipulation of the measured variables such as temperature, flow, pressure, etc.

Control is accomplished through electronic systems.  These electronic systems include microprocessors, sensors and final control elements that allow a process to be completely automated.

Where do Instrument Technicians Work?

- Power plants (coal electrical generation facilities, cogeneration facilities, etc.)

- Process plants (oil refineries, ethanol refineries, chemical processing facilities, etc.)

- Water treatment facilities

- Food processing

- Manufacturing facilities

Job Titles

E&I Technician

  • Electrical & Instrumentation Technicians install, service, troubleshoot and perform preventive and predictive maintenance functions on equipment. This includes plant lighting equipment and receptacle circuits, motors, starters, motor control centers, programmable controllers, control panels, electrical control systems and transformers. They may also service high voltage electrical systems and ensure that work is in accordance with relevant codes. They repair, test, adjust, calibrate or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters and antennas.


  • Electrical Maintenance- Service and maintain existing electrical and electrical related equipment, including plant lighting and receptacle circuits, motors, starters, relays, push buttons, limit switches, special control switches, timers, counters, motor control centers, control panels and transformers, as well as the test equipment needed to do this servicing, including: VOM voltmeters, ammeters, ohmmeters, oscilloscope, brush records and other test equipment.

  • Power Distribution, including high voltage transformers, switch gear, circuit breakers, starters, motors and transmission lines.

  • Electrical Construction, including: installation of conduit and wiring for power distribution and lighting; panel building; installation of conduit and wiring for machine and equipment controls; layout, planning and installation of control systems including programmable controllers, drives, servo systems, etc.; installation of communication and data systems.

  • Electronic Maintenance and Troubleshooting- Service and maintain all electronic equipment as well as familiarizing oneself with the equipment they service. Also be able to use the necessary test equipment to service this equipment. This will include drive systems, programmable controllers, microprocessors, recorders, counters, speed indicators, process control type equipment and any and all other electronic equipment in the plant.

  • Pressure Instruments- Work in shop and field to learn to adjust and calibrate pressure measuring and recording devices. Adjust and calibrate pressure measuring devices, repair and replace damaged parts.

  • Temperature Instruments- Work in shop and field to learn to adjust and calibrate temperature measuring and recording devices. Adjust and calibrate temperature measuring devices and repair and replace damaged parts.

  • Level Measurements- Work in shop and field to learn to adjust and calibrate level measuring and recording devices. Adjust and calibrate level measuring devices, repair and replace damaged parts.

  • Flow Measuring and Control- Work in shop and field on repair, adjustment, calibration and inspection of flow measuring and control instruments. Mechanical and electrical devices. Variable orifice-fixed orifice-volumetric. Computation of flow data, flow of solids in suspension.

  • Instrument Mechanisms- Repair, adjust and replace worn parts, gears, racks segments, hair springs, jewel bearings and clock works. Repair and replace electrical contacts and coils. Repair hydraulically operated valves, diaphragm valves and solenoid operated valves.

  • Control Valves and Devices- Shop and field work in the adjustment of control valves, involving diaphragms, hydraulic cylinders, hydraulic valves, floats, and dampers. Adjustment of pneumatic, electric and electronic controls.

  • Instrument Shop- Troubleshooting and special applications, general shop and field troubleshooting with instrument mechanics, inspect, adjust, repair and calibrate miscellaneous control and recording instruments. Work on special controls, special applications and build and maintain panel installations.

  • Safety- Safety equipment and procedures.

  • Perform scheduled preventive maintenance tasks, such as checking, cleaning, and repairing equipment, to detect and prevent problems.

  • Examine work orders and converse with equipment operators to detect equipment problems and to ascertain whether mechanical or human errors contributed to the problems.

  • Install and maintain high voltage equipment (anything above 600 volts); Circuit design and drafting; Schematic and/or blueprint reading.

 I&E Technician

  • I&E technician -- sometimes called an E&I technician -- works with electrical and instrumentation equipment. These technicians might work at power generation facilities, oil refineries, manufacturing plants, food processing plants and paper mills. I&E technicians install, maintain, troubleshoot and repair equipment such as plant lighting, thermostats, programmable controllers and transformers.

    • Basic Responsibilities

      • I&E technicians maintain equipment to keep it running smoothly, perform tests and calibrations, repair or replace components and troubleshoot equipment operational problems. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics addresses the work of I&E technicians under the broad job category of electrical and electronic installers and repairers. These technicians know how to read schematics and must often refer to manufacturer specifications to disassemble and reassemble complex equipment and machinery.

    • Common Tasks

      • Electrical tasks performed by I&E technicians range from installing wiring and conduit to assembling and troubleshooting circuits. I&E technicians also maintain, troubleshoot and repair electrical motors and generators. Tasks performed on electronic equipment can include troubleshooting and repairing camera systems, electronic sensors and robotic equipment as well as programming programmable logic controllers used to operate complex machinery.

    • Additional Job Titles and Requirements

      • Job titles and specific responsibilities vary based on the needs of hiring companies. Different job titles include E&I or I&E technicians, electrical technicians, instrumentation technicians and electronic technicians. Entry level skill requirements also vary. Although employers often prefer job candidates to hold post secondary technical diplomas or certifications in electronics. New hires should expect on-the-job training on specific equipment in addition to participating in apprenticeship programs, which can range from three to six years.

    • Tools and Equipment

      • Tools used by I&E technicians include oscilloscopes, signal generators, voltmeters, multi-meters, high and low voltage detectors, pipe bending tools and grounding hardware. These technicians might also use computer aided design software and other computer applications, such as maintenance management system software, along with common word processing and spreadsheet programs. Depending on the work environment and the equipment on which they're working, I&E technicians might also need to wear protective safety equipment such as hard hats, safety glasses or shoes and hearing protection.

I&C Technician

  • Instrumentation and Control Technician

  • Instrumentation and control technicians apply their knowledge of electrical engineering to monitor and manipulate various machine-run systems. They may work with automated equipment in manufacturing or assembly plants, waste-water treatment facilities and nuclear power plants. Responsibilities include setting up and testing equipment, analyzing data, sketching plans and writing reports. These professionals may also be referred to as electrical technicians.

  • Electrical technicians might work in a noisy factory setting and have to lift heavy equipment, which can put them at risk for injuries

Electronic Technician

  • Electronics technicians help design, develop, test, manufacture, install, and repair electrical and electronic equipment such as communication equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment and computers.

 Meter Technician

  • A meter technician is responsible for the installation and maintenance of electric meters and other types of equipment used to measure the usage of electricity. Houses, for example, have an electric meter on them which calculates the amount of electricity used so the power company can properly bill the home for its power consumption. The meter technician covers tasks such as installing electric meters, repairing and testing the meters,and keeping records about the electrical equipment used by the company that employees him.