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How do I Become a Control and Instrumentation Engineer?

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  • Written By: L.K. Blackburn
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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To become a control and instrumentation engineer, you should start by first attending college and obtaining an undergraduate engineering degree. Instrumentation engineers build, assemble, and maintain monitoring and control systems and machinery for use in a variety of industries and processes. After attending college, the next step is to gain relevant work experience and develop the skills specific to control and instrumentation engineering, such as designing machines and writing control software.

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The education path to become an control and instrumentation engineer begins by focusing on science, mathematics, and computer programming in high school. When choosing an undergraduate college to attend, you may want to thoroughly investigate the school's engineering program, and make sure it has both the courses you are interested in and that there are opportunities for learning in the business field outside the classroom. Internships are a vital part of a college engineering experience, as they allow a student to obtain work experience desired by employers prior to graduating. It may also be a good idea to have a part time job in an engineering firm or office that allows you to obtain even more experience to add to a resume in order to be competitive when applying for your first full time engineering job post college. Certification to become a control and instrumentation engineer may be necessary, as it is required in some regions, and it typically a process that involves working a set number of hours in the field along with a standardized examination.

Skills required to work as a control and instrumentation engineer include the ability to write custom software applications and computer programs that enable a machine or system to function as needed to accomplish a goal. Additionally, it is important to be familiar with the operation of basic machinery systems and industry tools used to repair, install, and maintain industry equipment. Engineers work in tandem with each other in a team-based work environment, so communication and teamwork is usually an essential skill needed to become a control and instrumentation engineer. Problem solving is also an important ability, as approaching an issue and drafting a solution is one of the core functions of any engineer's work day.

Most of the knowledge and specific skills necessary to become a control and instrumentation engineer is learned through on the job training. Continuing education is an important part of being a control and instrumentation engineer, as the field is constantly evolving and advancing. Many companies will support an engineer in obtaining higher levels of education while still actively employed, such as earning a masters degree or PhD. Places that employ control and instrumentation engineers include construction companies, telecommunications firms, manufacturing businesses, and the aerospace industry. Engineers may start out working for a company, but choose to later become a self employed consultant that contracts out to many businesses.

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