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Control and instrumentation engineer: job description

Control and instrumentation engineer: job description

Control and instrumentation engineers are responsible for the research, design, development and installation of devices and systems used in manufacturing facilities and plants.
Employers seek imaginative candidates with good technical knowledge and strong practical abilities.

What does a control and instrumentation engineer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Control and instrumentation engineers ensure that industrial equipment and machinery work safely and efficiently. They may work in an office, a laboratory, on a factory floor or all three.

Responsibilities typically include:

  • preparing and agreeing project budgets, timescales and specifications with clients and managers
  • undertaking relevant research
  • producing and implementing designs
  • creating test procedures
  • testing, evaluating, modifying and calibrating products and instruments
  • writing reports and documentation
  • analysing and interpreting data
  • collaborating with a team of scientists and engineers
  • providing technical support.

Typical employers of control and instrumentation engineers

  • Power generation companies
  • Manufacturers and installers of instruments and control devices/systems
  • Process companies

Self-employment via consultancy/contract work is possible for individuals with several years' experience.

Vacancies attract strong competition, particularly opportunities on structured graduate training schemes. Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and recruitment agencies, in newspapers and in relevant publications including TARGETjobs Engineering, The Engineer, Electronic Engineering Times, Computer Weekly and New Scientist.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into this profession for both school leavers and graduates. For graduates, a degree in electrical, electronic or mechanical engineering, computing or applied physics is normally necessary. A postgraduate qualification can be advantageous and may be necessary for some posts. A list of accredited courses is available on the Engineering Council’s website.

If you are aiming to work in a technician role, it is possible to enter the profession with a higher national diploma (HND) or an advanced or higher apprenticeship in an appropriate subject such as electronic engineering, electrical engineering, systems engineering or manufacturing engineering. To find out more about getting into engineering via a school leaver route, visit the engineering section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Relevant experience can be beneficial. Some employers offer final year project work, sponsorship, vacation work and industrial placements which can provide valuable contacts and a useful insight into the profession.

Achieving chartered (CEng) status with the Engineering Council can help to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to your field. To become chartered, you will need an accredited bachelors degree in engineering or technology, plus an appropriate masters degree (MEng) or doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional engineering institution such as the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). You will also be eligible with an integrated MSc. To find out more, take a look at our guide to chartership.

Key skills for control and instrumentation engineers

Employers seek imaginative graduates with good technical knowledge and strong practical abilities. Control and instrumentation engineers must also be:

  • business-minded
  • capable of working well within a team
  • organised
  • able to work under pressure to meet tight deadlines.
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