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Old 11-01-2018, 06:39 PM   #1
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Default Instrumentation cert

Hello. I’m a 5th year union apprentice. I was offered the last spot in the NJATC instrumentation course in my local. I wanted to know if anyone here does instrumentation and if so how they enjoy it compared to residential or commercial work? Also, do you get paid more and do you travel much for work with such a skill set? Thanks!
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Old 11-01-2018, 09:02 PM   #2
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Yes take it. You will find the work challenging and not to hard on the body. I took instrumentation courses in the early 90's and just retired at 61. The last 7 years was all instruments and controls. I made over scale when doing instruments and was able to control my own schedules and set my own times and was basically given a budget to work with. I retired due to health but my local has early retirement and I needed daily treatments.
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Old 11-01-2018, 09:38 PM   #3
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Joe. Take it. You can always go back to running pipe and pulling wire if you like it better.
In fact take any opportunity to improve your marketability.

Learn everything and all you can. Like Charlie says above you might be very glad you did if you stick with this trade.
To be perfectly honest with you. If I had to run pipe and pull wire my whole career, I would not have been an electrician my whole life. Even though once I was a controls type guy, a few days of pipe and wire was actually somewhat relieving. Not much to think about and allowed me to relax a little bit.
Go get it Joe!
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Old 11-01-2018, 10:00 PM   #4
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The hardest part of instrumentation is to do something that you know is a waste of time yet you still have to do it and do it correctly.

Many times i have calibrated a piece of equipment like a conductivity meter using known samples just to be sent back because the $3000 meter does not agree with the $6 piece of paper that they dip in the solution. It doesn't matter if you pull a sample and test it in the lab to prove the meter is correct they still insist that you calibrate then off set the readings to match the paper. Now you have to fight the inner demon that says screw this just tell me what you want the meter to read and lets skip the part where i stand here waiting for the sensor to settle.

I do enjoy the trouble shooting side and new set ups but the calibration side can be frustrating especially on slow senors like gas detectors but over all its a good job that pays well.
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Old 11-01-2018, 10:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie K View Post
Yes take it. You will find the work challenging and not to hard on the body. I took instrumentation courses in the early 90's and just retired at 61. The last 7 years was all instruments and controls. I made over scale when doing instruments and was able to control my own schedules and set my own times and was basically given a budget to work with. I retired due to health but my local has early retirement and I needed daily treatments.
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Valdes View Post
Joe. Take it. You can always go back to running pipe and pulling wire if you like it better.
In fact take any opportunity to improve your marketability.

Learn everything and all you can. Like Charlie says above you might be very glad you did if you stick with this trade.
To be perfectly honest with you. If I had to run pipe and pull wire my whole career, I would not have been an electrician my whole life. Even though once I was a controls type guy, a few days of pipe and wire was actually somewhat relieving. Not much to think about and allowed me to relax a little bit.
Go get it Joe!
Quote:
Originally Posted by gpop View Post
The hardest part of instrumentation is to do something that you know is a waste of time yet you still have to do it and do it correctly.

Many times i have calibrated a piece of equipment like a conductivity meter using known samples just to be sent back because the $3000 meter does not agree with the $6 piece of paper that they dip in the solution. It doesn't matter if you pull a sample and test it in the lab to prove the meter is correct they still insist that you calibrate then off set the readings to match the paper. Now you have to fight the inner demon that says screw this just tell me what you want the meter to read and lets skip the part where i stand here waiting for the sensor to settle.

I do enjoy the trouble shooting side and new set ups but the calibration side can be frustrating especially on slow senors like gas detectors but over all its a good job that pays well.
Hey. You guys are always really helpful. I’m in my 20s (so why not?) and I think I want to give this a shot!
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Old 11-03-2018, 04:56 AM   #6
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Re: your PM--yes I am in instrumentation, it is a good trade and can be hard to break into, so I would suggest taking the opportunity if given it. Overall it's the type of thing that you're more likely to use your head than your hands, but there is a pretty decent balance between the two. The training can be pretty rigorous depending on where you go, it's not for everyone.

Some things you may want to know:

- There are several major areas: engineering/design which is done in an office and rare for trades to get involved with as it's usually done by professional engineers, installation which can involve travel or working out of a camp but you'll generally be on the same project for a while, commissioning which would involve more travel than installation and typically done by the same companies, or maintenance which is working at the same facility every day keeping things going. Either way, you're very likely to be working in an industrial environment vs. residential or commercial electrical work, which can be loud, dirty, dangerous, and involve lots of rules and regulations.

- Installation work can involve a lot of pneumatic tube bending, which is sort of the instrumentation equivalent of installing conduit. If you're a new apprentice doing installation work, I would expect to do a decent amount of this.

- As you progress through the career, the line between industrial electrician and instrumentation tech can start to blur because they both will do a lot of PLC and controls work. Only major difference is that instrumentation techs tend to be more involved in process measurement and are expected to be halfway decent in knowledge of process engineering, while industrial electricians would be knowledgeable in high voltage and industrial code.

- The pay range for instrumentation tech is probably a bit higher than residential or commercial electricians and very comparable with industrial electricians (assuming we're talking standard employees and not contractors). With that said, the ceiling is a lot higher when you're talking 10-15+ years experience range or dual ticket. It's easier to pick up electrical as a 2nd ticket than vica versa because instrumentation is often non-compulsory--it's easier to convince an employer who has both electricians and instrument techs to dual ticket you in electrical so that you can legally install high voltage, whereas there isn't much reason to dual ticket an electrician in instrumentation since said person can do controls and PLC programming if they know how, without needing to be licensed.

If you want to know anything else, feel free to ask. Good luck!
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Last edited by Rora; 11-03-2018 at 05:07 AM.
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rora View Post
Re: your PM--yes I am in instrumentation, it is a good trade and can be hard to break into, so I would suggest taking the opportunity if given it. Overall it's the type of thing that you're more likely to use your head than your hands, but there is a pretty decent balance between the two. The training can be pretty rigorous depending on where you go, it's not for everyone.

Some things you may want to know:

- There are several major areas: engineering/design which is done in an office and rare for trades to get involved with as it's usually done by professional engineers, installation which can involve travel or working out of a camp but you'll generally be on the same project for a while, commissioning which would involve more travel than installation and typically done by the same companies, or maintenance which is working at the same facility every day keeping things going. Either way, you're very likely to be working in an industrial environment vs. residential or commercial electrical work, which can be loud, dirty, dangerous, and involve lots of rules and regulations.

- Installation work can involve a lot of pneumatic tube bending, which is sort of the instrumentation equivalent of installing conduit. If you're a new apprentice doing installation work, I would expect to do a decent amount of this.

- As you progress through the career, the line between industrial electrician and instrumentation tech can start to blur because they both will do a lot of PLC and controls work. Only major difference is that instrumentation techs tend to be more involved in process measurement and are expected to be halfway decent in knowledge of process engineering, while industrial electricians would be knowledgeable in high voltage and industrial code.

- The pay range for instrumentation tech is probably a bit higher than residential or commercial electricians and very comparable with industrial electricians (assuming we're talking standard employees and not contractors). With that said, the ceiling is a lot higher when you're talking 10-15+ years experience range or dual ticket. It's easier to pick up electrical as a 2nd ticket than vica versa because instrumentation is often non-compulsory--it's easier to convince an employer who has both electricians and instrument techs to dual ticket you in electrical so that you can legally install high voltage, whereas there isn't much reason to dual ticket an electrician in instrumentation since said person can do controls and PLC programming if they know how, without needing to be licensed.

If you want to know anything else, feel free to ask. Good luck!
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