Instrumentation Technicians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Math and science courses, such as algebra, geometry, physics, and chemistry, are essential prerequisites to becoming an instrumentation technician. In addition, machine and electrical shop courses will help you become familiar with electrical, mechanical, and electronic technology. Classes in mechanical drawing and computer-aided drafting are also beneficial. Instrumentation technicians also need good writing and communication skills, so be sure to take English, composition, and speech classes.

Postsecondary Training

The basic requirement for an entry-level job is completion of a two-year technical program or equivalent experience in a related field. Such equivalent experience may come from work in an electronics or manufacturing firm or any job that provides experience working with mechanical or electrical equipment. 

Technical programs beyond high school can be found in community colleges as well as technical schools. Programs are offered in many different disciplines in addition to instrumentation technology. They may be in electronics or in electrical, mechanical, biomedical, or nuclear technology. ABET (https://amspub.abet.org/aps) accredits postsecondary programs that offer training in engineering technology, electromechanics, and related fields. 

Most programs allow technicians to develop hands-on and laboratory skills as well as learn theory. Classes are likely to include instruction on electronic circuitry, computer science, mathematics, and physics. Courses in basic electronics, electrical theory, and computer-aided design are also important. Technical writing is helpful as most technicians will prepare technical reports. Industrial economics, applied psychology, and plant management courses are helpful to those who plan to move into customer service or management.

Depending on the sophistication of the equipment, training for medical equipment repairers varies. A bachelor's degree is required to learn how to repair more technical equipment, while an associate's degree is sufficient for less complicated equipment. On-the-job training may be all that is needed for the least sophisticated medical equipment.

Other Education or Training

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, International Society of Automation, and other organizations at the national, state, and local levels provide continuing education classes, webinars, and seminars. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Instrumentation technicians who graduate from a recognized technical program may become certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies, although this is usually not a required part of a job. Certification is available at various levels, each combining a written exam in a variety of specialty fields with a specified amount of job-related experience. Instrumentation technicians who specialize in biomedical equipment repair can receive voluntary certification from the AAMI Credentials Institute. The International Society of Automation offers certification for technicians who are involved in automation, control, maintenance, and manufacturing.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience one can obtain in the field of complex instrumentation—such as an internship or a part-time job—will be useful. 

Those pursuing this career should have good manual dexterity, stamina for standing over equipment for long periods of time, and good technical and mechanical skills. They should also be patient and good problem-solvers. It helps to be calm and able to work under pressure. Creativity in diagnosing problems and strong communication skills are also important.

To be an instrumentation technician, you need mathematical and scientific aptitude and the patience to methodically pursue complex questions. A tolerance for following prescribed procedures is essential, especially when undertaking assignments requiring a very precise, unchanging system of problem solving. Successful instrumentation technicians are able to provide solutions quickly and accurately even in stressful situations.