Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics (NOC 2243)

About this job

Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics repair, maintain, calibrate, adjust, and install the dials, sensors and other instrumentation that measures and controls machinery in industrial and commercial plants. Instrumentation gives operators information about the condition and operation of machinery, ensuring the safety and function of the plant or system.

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Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • are employed by pulp and paper processing companies, hydro power generating companies, mining, petrochemical and natural gas companies, industrial instrument and other manufacturing companies, health services and industrial instrument servicing establishments
  • benefit from having a knowledge of electronics, physics, mathematics and chemistry
  • should have an interest in the scientific and technical aspects of machinery and industrial processes
  • must have troubleshooting abilities, problem solving skills and an attention to detail
  • must have a well-rounded knowledge of industrial production processes, controls and power systems such as pneumatics, electro-pneumatics, hydraulics, electricity, electronics, computers and networks
Common job titles
  • measurement technician - oil and gas installation
  • mechanic, industrial / precision
  • mechanic, utilities / maintenance
  • repairer, process control equipment
  • technician, heavy water plant control
  • technician, industrial instrumentation
  • measurement technician - oil and gas installation
  • mechanic, industrial / precision
  • mechanic, utilities / maintenance
  • repairer, industrial instrument panel
  • repairer, industrial process control equip
  • repairer, process control equipment

Duties

Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics:

  • consult manufacturer's manuals, circuit diagrams and blueprints to determine tests and maintenance procedures for instruments used for measuring and controlling flow, level, pressure, temperature, chemical composition and other variables in manufacturing and processing
  • inspect and test operation of instruments and systems to diagnose faults using pneumatic, electrical and electronic testing devices and precision measuring instruments
  • repair and adjust system components, such as sensors, transmitters, final control elements, distributed computer control systems (DCS) and programmable logic controllers, or remove and replace defective parts
  • calibrate components and instruments according to manufacturers' specifications
  • perform scheduled preventive maintenance work and complete test and maintenance reports
  • install control and measurement instruments on existing and new plant equipment and processes
  • consult with and advise process operators to troubleshoot process and system faults

Work environment

Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics conduct work on large production machines in industrial facilities such as refineries, mills or power plants.

These individuals may perform tasks in confined spaces, high spaces or areas exposed to noise, fumes or high heat levels. Workers may also be required to work outdoors with exposure to varied weather. Safety precautions minimize risks, which may include electric shock, exposure to dangerous chemicals or materials under high pressure.

Employment is generally full time and year round. These technicians and mechanics work regular hours or shift work and may be called upon during emergencies, such as when manufacturing and power control systems instrumentation fails to work. During emergencies, equipment may be damaged, fires have the potential to break out and valuable raw materials could be lost, so workers are often required to concentrate in urgent or stressful situations.

Workers must be familiar with developments in their area of specialty and often retrain or upgrade skills to keep up with rapid changes in technology.

Insights from industry

Job openings will arise due to both retirement and the creation of new jobs. However, due to the relatively small number of individuals employed in this group, the total number of new openings that arise in the upcoming years will be relatively few.

There is expected to be increased demand in this area as a number of new projects are anticipated. There is presently a shortage of skilled workers and new graduates available in B.C. to fill openings that arise. However, companies in Alberta often offer to transport workers across the border and charge a lower rate. This helps to supply the demand, but may also take positions away from local workers.

The industrial instrumentation industry reports an urgent need for more skilled and qualified control technicians. There is currently a high employment rate for graduates of these programs.

Demand is reported to be in the pulp and paper, and mining, oil and gas industries. New jobs are also expected to also open up in instrument service and sales companies, the heating and ventilating field, and in environmental and pollution control.

The most successful individuals in this occupation will focus on professional development and keeping up-to-date with changes in technology.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates typically obtain positions related to factory maintenance. Technicians and mechanics with experience and further education may progress to supervisory positions, provide consulting services or become trainers or educators. Industrial instrument mechanics can also apply for dual journey status in both instrumentation and electrical.

Additional resources