Measurement and Control Technician

The Job and What's Involved

Measurement and control technicians run and look after the instruments that monitor and control production, manufacturing and other processes. They may also be involved in installing and testing instruments.

They work in a whole range of industries where sophisticated sensors and control systems are needed to make sure products are measured, weighed, manufactured, sorted or packaged correctly and efficiently, or to keep systems operating effectively. These could include:

  • Breweries, pharmaceuticals and food processing.
  • Chemicals, oil production and refining.
  • Mining operations.
  • Road vehicles and railway operations.
  • Automatic assembly lines in almost any manufacturing process
  • Aeronautical and aerospace manufacture and maintenance.
  • Hospital instruments
  • Laboratories - testing new products before production and quality control in production.
  • Automatic sorting operations - such as baggage handling or mail sorting.

The 'smart' instruments used by measurement and control technicians detect exactly what is happening in a particular area of operation at any given moment. The equipment is often programmed to carry out any necessary changes and adjustments automatically.

The work of measurement and control technicians can involve:

  • Routine maintenance and repair of components.
  • Setting and adjusting sensors to meet the requirements of quality assurance.
  • Monitoring systems.
  • Designing, producing, testing and operating new systems.
  • Supervising others in the team.

Technicians may work in electronics engineering teams, usually under the guidance of senior instrument engineers. They also work closely with the people operating the equipment that they are responsible for monitoring.

Measurement and control technicians usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, often on a shift or rota system as they may need to service or repair equipment at any time of the day or night. Evening, weekend and on-call working might be required.

Depending on the type of company they work for, technicians could be based:

  • Outdoors - in shipbuilding and heavy industry, in the transport industry, in oil refineries or on oil rigs.
  • Indoors - on production lines manufacturing things like toiletries, pharmaceuticals, food or drink.
  • In air-conditioned laboratories and hospitals.
  • In closely controlled environments, for example in microchip manufacturing.

Apprentices may start on around £13,000 a year. Qualified technicians can earn between £20,000 and £30,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Measurement and control technicians are widely employed in the chemical, food, oil and gas, mining, water, automotive, paper, mechanical and manufacturing industries.

As automated systems and computers are used more and more throughout industry, technicians skilled at using monitoring equipment will continue to be in demand.

There are opportunities throughout the country and abroad. Jobs are advertised in the local press, in trade publications and on the many engineering recruitment website's.

Education and Training

Most young people start as apprentices straight from school or college. It is possible to become an apprentice without formal qualifications, although most companies ask for around four GCSE's (A*- C) including English, maths and science, or equivalent qualifications, to ensure that new starters will be able to cope with the training.

There is a GCSE in engineering and one in manufacturing, and some schools, in partnership with employers, colleges and group training associations, offer a Young Apprenticeship that starts at school at the age of 14. The Diplomas in engineering, and manufacturing and product design may be relevant for this area of work.

The most usual entry route is through an Advanced Apprenticeship leading to a technician-level qualification.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

An alternative route is via a full-time or part-time college course such as a BTEC qualification leading to:

  • First Certificate/ Diploma in engineering Level 2
  • National Certificate/Diploma in manufacturing engineering
  • National Certificate/Diploma in electrical, electronic or mechanical engineering.
  • National Certificate/Diploma in operations and maintenance engineering.

Some technicians have degrees in engineering with technology management. Entry to a degree course is usually with at least two A levels and five GCSE's (A*- C), or equivalent qualifications. Others have Higher National Diplomas/Certificates (HND's/HNC's) for which the requirements are a minimum of one A level or a BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in a relevant subject, or equivalent qualifications.

Adults may be able to train as measurement and control technicians if they have experience in electronics, manufacturing or engineering.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Young people who join as apprentices follow a planned schedule of training, combining academic study with work-based experience which leads to:

  • NVQ Level 1 and 2 performing engineering operations.
  • NVQ Level 2 engineering maintenance and installation.
  • NVQ Level 3 engineering.
  • NVQ Level 3 process engineering maintenance (instrument and control).

Students who start by taking a two-year HND could extend this to a three-year degree or a four-year sandwich degree, by continuing on a BEng engineering with technology management or similar course. An optional placement year in industry is usually available before the final year.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Measurement and control technicians need:

  • Good technical skills.
  • The ability to diagnose problems and come up with solutions.
  • A patient and methodical approach to work.
  • ICT skills.
  • Accuracy for record keeping.
  • To be able to explain complex operations clearly.
  • To work well on their own initiative and as part of a team.
  • To be able to communicate with other team members with different levels of responsibility.

Your Long Term Prospects

Some Apprenticeships lead directly to engineering technician registration by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the qualification of EngTech. To achieve this technicians must register formally with the Engineering Council as an engineering technician and will need:

  • An appropriate qualification such as an NVQ Level 3 or a BTEC National Certificate/Diploma.
  • At least three years' relevant work experience, including suitable further training and development
  • To be a member of a relevant professional institution.
  • To take a final test called a professional review.

The Institute of Measurement and Control also accredits training courses that lead to membership at engineering technician (EngTech) level.

It may also be possible to go on to incorporated engineer level, and then to chartered engineer status.

Experienced technicians could move into positions in design, sales, and management and consultancy.

Get Further Information

Engineering Council UK,
246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
Website: www.engc.org.uk

The Institute of Measurement and Control,
87 Gower Street, London WC1E 6AF
Tel: 020 7387 4949
Website: www.instmc.org.uk

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET),
Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 313311
Website: www.theiet.org

The Manufacturing Institute,
Warren Bruce Court, Warren Bruce Road,
Trafford Park, Manchester M17 1LB
Tel: 0161 875 2525
Website: www.manufacturinginstitute.co.uk

SEMTA (Sector Skills Council for Science,
Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies),
14 Upton Road, Watford WD18 0JT
Tel: 01923 238441
Website: www.semta.org.uk

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