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Become An Instrumentation Engineer

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Working As An Instrumentation Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $82,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Instrumentation Engineer Do

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.

Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.

Duties

Electrical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
  • Perform detailed calculations to develop manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
  • Direct the manufacture, installation, and testing of electrical equipment to ensure that products meet specifications and codes
  • Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
  • Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure that projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget

Electronics engineers typically do the following:

  • Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
  • Analyze customer needs and determine the requirements, capacity, and cost for developing an electrical system plan
  • Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
  • Evaluate systems and recommend design modifications or equipment repair
  • Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure that they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
  • Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems in order to improve technical performance

Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in a variety of areas, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.

The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers also must work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.

Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers.

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How To Become An Instrumentation Engineer

Electrical and electronics engineers must have a bachelor’s degree. Employers also value practical experience, so participation in cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit for structured work experience. Having a Professional Engineer (PE) license may improve an engineer’s chances of finding employment.

Education

High school students interested in studying electrical or electronics engineering benefit from taking courses in physics and mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting are also helpful, because electrical and electronics engineers often are required to prepare technical drawings.

In order to enter the occupation, prospective electrical and electronics engineers need a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology. Programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. Courses include digital systems design, differential equations, and electrical circuit theory. Programs in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or electrical engineering technology should be accredited by ABET.

Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education. Cooperative programs combine classroom study with practical work. Internships provide similar experience and are growing in number.

At some universities, students can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as an instructor at some universities, or in research and development.

Important Qualities

Concentration. Electrical and electronics engineers design and develop complex electrical systems and electronic components and products. They must be able to keep track of multiple design elements and technical characteristics when performing these tasks.

Initiative. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to apply their knowledge to new tasks in every project they undertake. In addition, they must engage in continuing education to keep up with changes in technology.

Interpersonal skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to work with others during the manufacturing process to ensure that their plans are implemented correctly. This collaboration includes monitoring technicians and devising remedies to problems as they arise.

Math skills. Electrical and electronics engineers must be able to use the principles of calculus and other advanced math in order to analyze, design, and troubleshoot equipment.

Speaking skills. Electrical and electronics engineers work closely with other engineers and technicians. They must be able to explain their designs and reasoning clearly and to relay instructions during product development and production. They also may need to explain complex issues to customers who have little or no technical expertise.

Writing skills. Electrical and electronics engineers develop technical publications related to equipment they develop, including maintenance manuals, operation manuals, parts lists, product proposals, and design methods documents.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as electrical and electronics engineers. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam can be taken right after graduation from a college or university. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After getting work experience, EITs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education courses to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

Advancement

Electrical and electronic engineers may advance to supervisory positions in which they lead a team of engineers and technicians. Some may move to management positions, working as engineering or program managers. Preparation for managerial positions usually requires working under the guidance of a more experienced engineer. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

For sales work, an engineering background enables engineers to discuss a product's technical aspects and assist in product planning and use. For more information, see the profile on sales engineers.

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Instrumentation Engineer Career Paths

Instrumentation Engineer
Electrical Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Electrical Engineer Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Electrical Engineer Project Engineer Systems Engineer
Manager, Systems Engineering
9 Yearsyrs
Engineer Project Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Engineer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Control Systems Engineer Controls Engineer Project Controls Engineer
Controls Project Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Control Systems Engineer Controls Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Control Systems Engineer Controls Engineer Maintenance Supervisor
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Manager Service Manager
Regional Service Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Test Engineer
Test Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Engineering Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Electrical Engineer Principal Engineer Project Engineering Manager
Plant Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Electrical Engineer Project Engineering Manager Engineering Program Manager
Senior Program And Engineering Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Electrical Engineer Engineering Manager Construction Manager
Commissioning Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Architect Assistant Project Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Quality Assurance Engineer Quality Control Manager
Controls Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Senior Field Engineer
Field Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Process Engineer Senior Process Engineer
Engineering Group Leader
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Engineer Project Lead Engineer
Lead Engineer And Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Engineer Section Manager
Manager Of Engineering Department
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Instrumentation Engineer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Facility Engineer 3.9 years
Controls Engineer 3.4 years
Engineer 3.3 years
Field Engineer 3.1 years
Junior Engineer 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Instrumentation Engineer
Engineer 7.6%
Internship 4.8%
Top Careers After Instrumentation Engineer
Engineer 10.4%
Consultant 2.8%

Do you work as an Instrumentation Engineer?

Average Yearly Salary
$82,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$61,000
Min 10%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$112,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
San Carlos, CA
Highest Paying State
California
Avg Experience Level
3.6 years
How much does an Instrumentation Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Instrumentation Engineer in the United States is $82,884 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $61,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $112,000.

Real Instrumentation Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Lead Electrical and Instrumentation Engineer First Commissioning Services-America Corporation Conroe, TX Sep 05, 2014 $300,000 -
$500,000
Staff Instrument Engineer Valero Energy Corporation Benicia, CA Aug 23, 2016 $167,890
Staff Instrument Engineer Valero Energy Corporation Benicia, CA Aug 15, 2015 $163,000
Sensor Calibration & Instrumentation Engineer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Jul 01, 2015 $145,000 -
$165,000
Instrumentation Engineer Outsource Research Consulting, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 25, 2015 $124,000
Chief Instrument Engineer Formosa Plastics Corporation, Texas Point Comfort, TX Jan 09, 2016 $121,000
Principal Instrument Engineer Technip USA, Inc. Claremont, CA Aug 01, 2014 $120,000
Software Instrumentation Engineer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Jul 25, 2014 $115,253 -
$130,000
Electrical and Instrumentation Engineer/Surveyor DET Norske Veritas (U.S.A.), Inc. Katy, TX Aug 29, 2015 $115,164 -
$122,724
Smartplant Instrumentation Engineer Dovre Group Inc. Houston, TX Dec 16, 2014 $112,133
Instrumentation Engineer Indorama Ventures Olefins, LLC Westlake, LA Jul 27, 2016 $110,000
Field Instrument Engineer Santos GLNG Corp Houston, TX Jan 02, 2013 $110,000 -
$150,000
Instrumentation Engineer Indorama Ventures Olefins, LLC Westlake, LA Jul 22, 2016 $110,000
Instrumentation Engineer Skellig Automation Us LLC Cambridge, MA Sep 06, 2014 $110,000
Instrumentation Engineer Govind Development, LLC Corpus Christi, TX Jun 23, 2016 $95,000
Electrical & Instrumentation Engineer Stantec Consulting Services Inc. Bakersfield, CA Sep 03, 2015 $94,266
Instrument Engineer Formosa Plastics Corporation, Texas Point Comfort, TX Jan 09, 2016 $93,000
Instrumentation Engineer III Callidus Technologies LLC Tulsa, OK Sep 15, 2016 $89,175
Instrumentation Engineer Gulf Interstate Engineering Company Houston, TX Sep 05, 2015 $87,360
Instrumentation Engineer III Callidus Technologies LLC Tulsa, OK Aug 29, 2016 $87,000
Lead Instrumentation Engineer Lindsayca Inc. Houston, TX Feb 18, 2016 $86,840 -
$90,000
Instrument Engineer Associate II Audubon Engineering Operations, LLC Houston, TX Dec 14, 2015 $85,592
BIO Instrument Engineer Profound Radiance Inc. Washington, DC Sep 19, 2014 $72,925
Instrumentation Engineer Outsource Research Consulting, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 14, 2015 $72,800
Instrument Engineer Technip USA, Inc. Claremont, CA Jun 29, 2016 $72,800
Bio-Instrumentation Engineer B & W TEK, Inc. Newark, DE Sep 19, 2015 $71,188
Associate Instrumentation Engineer McDermott, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 14, 2013 $71,000
Instrument Engineer Technip USA, Inc. Claremont, CA Jul 22, 2013 $70,000
Instrumentation Engineer Vala Sciences, Inc. San Diego, CA Jan 09, 2016 $70,000
Instrumentation Engineer (Engineer 2) Foster Wheeler USA Corporation South Jordan, UT Sep 04, 2014 $70,000 -
$90,000

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Top Skills for An Instrumentation Engineer

  1. Control Valves
  2. Control Systems
  3. Temperature Transmitters
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided calculations and documentation for selection of control valves, regulators, relief valves and electronic and pneumatic instrumentation.
  • Design and engineer electrical instrument and control systems for industrial facilities, oil refinery petrochemical, gas compression and chemical applications.
  • Perform calibration and checking of field instruments like pressure transmitters, temperature transmitters, flow transmitters and level transmitters.
  • Developed control system architecture and selected PLC hardware.
  • Handled various control disciplines used in the gas plant such as Distributed Control System (DCS) and pneumatic controllers.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Instrumentation Engineers

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Washington
  3. New Mexico
  4. Alaska
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Texas
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Virginia
  9. Arizona
  10. Delaware
  • (1,085 jobs)
  • (993 jobs)
  • (141 jobs)
  • (45 jobs)
  • (307 jobs)
  • (2,142 jobs)
  • (303 jobs)
  • (1,590 jobs)
  • (482 jobs)
  • (74 jobs)

Instrumentation Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

77.4%

Unknown

12.3%

Female

10.3%
Ethnicity

White

50.2%

Asian

16.2%

Hispanic or Latino

15.3%

Black or African American

10.2%

Unknown

8.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

29.6%

Chinese

9.3%

Mandarin

9.3%

French

7.4%

Russian

7.4%

Hindi

7.4%

German

5.6%

Portuguese

3.7%

Carrier

3.7%

Arabic

3.7%

Tamil

3.7%

Dutch

1.9%

Japanese

1.9%

Cantonese

1.9%

Rajasthani

1.9%

Malayalam

1.9%
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Instrumentation Engineer Education

Schools

University of Houston

11.8%

Texas A&M University

9.2%

University of New Orleans

6.7%

Louisiana Tech University

6.7%

Wichita State University

5.6%

Lamar University

4.6%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

4.6%

University of Utah

4.6%

More Tech Institute

4.6%

Illinois Institute of Technology

4.1%

Pennsylvania State University

4.1%

University of Phoenix

4.1%

Clemson University

4.1%

Michigan State University

3.6%

University of Texas at Arlington

3.6%

Texas Tech University

3.6%

Auburn University

3.6%

University of Texas at Dallas

3.6%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

3.6%

Purdue University

3.6%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

48.7%

Mechanical Engineering

6.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

5.1%

Business

5.0%

Music

4.9%

Engineering

4.8%

Chemical Engineering

4.1%

Computer Engineering

3.5%

Computer Science

2.4%

Project Management

2.0%

Physics

1.9%

Mechatronics And Robotics

1.8%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.6%

Engineering Technology

1.4%

Management

1.3%

Systems Engineering

1.2%

Biomedical Engineering

1.0%

Electromechanical Instrumentation And Maintenance Technologies/Technicians

0.9%

Industrial Technology

0.8%

Chemistry

0.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

53.7%

Masters

25.5%

Other

11.4%

Associate

3.6%

Doctorate

2.1%

Certificate

1.7%

Diploma

1.7%

License

0.2%
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