AWFUL PUN ALERT: As a control and instrumentation engineer, you will play an ‘instrumental’ role (nudge, nudge) in the design, development, maintenance and installation of the gadgets and contraptions which are used to manage and regulate engineering processes and systems in power plants, factories and other industrial organisations.
Control and instrumentation is all about efficiency and safety. As a control and instrumentation engineer, you will be responsible for researching, designing and developing new systems and devices which will be used to control, monitor and regulate industrial processes and operations. This may involve aspects of both software engineering and hardware engineering.
Furthermore, you will be the expert engineer responsible for the maintenance of existing gadgets and the overseeing of any essential adjustments which need to be made.
Control and instrumentation engineers don’t only have technical responsibilities. Indeed, aspects of the job will involve procurement, project management, budget control and client relationship management.
You may also be responsible for overseeing testing procedures, writing reports and making sure that the instruments you develop comply with quality standards and safety regulations.
Once a device has been developed and rolled out, you may also be in charge of technical support.
Salary & benefits
Entry-level control and instrumentation engineers tend to earn between £17,000 and £28,500 per annum.
Once you have gained more experience, your annual salary is likely to increase to between £32,000 and £45,000.
Senior control and instrumentation engineers working in the nuclear, oil or gas industry can earn up to £100,000 and beyond.
As a control and instrumentation engineer, you’ll regularly be required to travel to different client sites.
Furthermore, it’s quite common that you’ll be ‘on call’ from time to time in order to deal with problems when necessary. Consequently, if you plan to enter this line of work, you shouldn’t expect a cushy nine-to-five office job.
For entry into this profession, you will typically need a relevant undergraduate or postgraduate degree in a subject such as electrical engineering, electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, physics or software engineering. Completing a course which includes modules relating to control and instrumentation will be especially useful.
Some universities, including the University of Greenwich and Warrington Collegiate, actually offer specific degree courses in control and instrumentation engineering.
Many companies only recruit graduates. However, other organisations will take on candidates with HNDs (or equivalent qualifications) in lower-level technician roles.
Training & progression
The majority of a control and instrumentation engineer’s training will be delivered in-house under the supervision of experienced engineers.
Typically, part of this training will involve working towards incorporated or chartered engineer status. Consequently, you may be required to attend workshops and courses that are run by external organisations, such as the Institute of Measurement and Control. Some organisations may even sponsor you through a relevant postgraduate qualification.
As you progress in your career and qualify as a chartered engineer, you will begin to have increased levels of responsibility and managerial duties. Consequently, your day-to-day routine may begin to focus on planning and strategy, rather than hands-on technical work.
Once you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt, you could even become a freelance engineer and provide consultancy on a range of projects for different clients.