Instrumentation is one of the most important careers yet view people choose it as a career path. One of the main reason instrumentation is less preferred is due to poor advocacy or career guidance regarding the field and its importance. South Africa is having a serious shortage if instrument technicians as a result of poor marketing of the course. Those who choose the course end up being one of the most valuable assets in their company. Most companies end up outsourcing the skill of instrument technician.
The big question is what is instrument technician and what does it take for one to obtain a qualification under instrumentation.
What does instrumentation technician job entail
Instrumentation technicians job involves setting up, testing and operation of instruments and electronic devices that are used in a variety of engineering or medical jobs. They design and repair a variety of instruments that are used for different procedures such as surgeries, mechanical procedures, metalworking, woodworking or a wide range of other careers that use instruments. Instrumentation technicians ensure the proper functioning of automated manufacturing equipment. They use a variety of instruments and devices to record and report data.
For the purpose of this article, we will not focus on the medical aspect but this article focuses on the electrical and even mechanical instrumentation technician.
What job do instrument technicians do in South Africa and abroad.
The jobs opportunities of instrument technicians are high in South Africa but the good news is that instrument technicians are on high demand abroad. So, when studying towards instrumentation remember that you do not have to be limited locally and you can set your eyes on working overseas.
Most instrumentation technicians in South Africa work for mining companies, however the job also includes working for manufacturing plants, making sure that equipment is working properly, safely, and efficiently. As an instrumentation technician, you will test, calibrate, install, repair, and inspect manufacturing equipment and monitoring devices. You’ll also perform general maintenance on the equipment and design new measuring and recording equipment. You may collect environmental data and monitor the pollution output of the plant. On a typical day, you will work with scientific and analytic computer software, calculators, voltage and current meters, and electronic probes to diagnose faults in circuitry.
Instrumentation technicians must possess an excellent eye for detail to identify problems and correct them quickly. They must remain up-to-date on the different tools needed to calibrate, adjust and restore various instruments. Since they perform a wide range of tasks using their hands, manual dexterity is also important.
Other important skills include:
- Attention to detail and precision
- Clarity if thinking
- Computer and Mechanical skills
- Analytical Thinking
- Critical Thinking
- Problem Solving
- Reading Comprehension
Consider Registering For N1-N3 Instrumentation course or from N4 to N6 advanced level instrumentation course with Ekurhuleni Technical College.
Big companies that have job opportunities of instrument technicians and their contact details:
- Impala Platinum
- Bisha Mining and Share Company
- African Rainbow Minerals
- Petra Diamonds Platinum Mine
- Rand Refinery Limited
Job titles or different names that instrumentation technicians are called in different companies.
The following are some of the titles that instrument technicians are referred to in the industry:
- Instrumentation and Control Technician-Implats (Impala Platinum)
- Instrumentation supervisor-(Goldfields)
- Instrumentation Mechanician (Two Rivers Platinum Mine)
- Maintenance Instrument Mechanician-(Rand Refinery Limited)
- Process Instrumentation Technician
- Electronic & Process Instrumentation
- Control and Instrumentation Technician
The job title and promotions start from being a junior instrument technician to a senior level instrument technician or instrument technician specialist.
Education and Training Requirements
To qualify as an instrument technician you can start from the beginners level which requires you to start from N1. This lays the foundation for the course and prepares you for the importance N2 studies. Should you want to continue with your studies you can proceed to N3 level. Most people are satisfied with N2 level as the N2 certificate qualifies you to do your trade testing provided you meet other criteria and requirements of a trade test such as minimum work experience and practical preparations.
Subjects required for instrumentation course N1-N3
- Mathematics N1-N3
- Engineering Science N1-N3
- Industrial Electronics N1-N3
- Instrument Trade Theory N1-N3
Subjects requirement for N4 – N6
- Mathematics N4-N6
- Engineering Physics N4-N6
- Industrial Electronics N4-N6
- Industrial Instruments N4-N6
The following are the requirements for instrumentation course
- In order to do N1, you need to have passed grade 10 with Maths and Science or equivalent
- In order to do N2, you need to have passed grade 11 or preferable N1 under instrumentation or equivalent
- In order to do N3 you need to have done Grade 12 (matric) or preferable N2 certificate under instrumentation
- In order to do N4, you need to have passed Grade 12 or N3 certificate under instrumentation
- In order to do N5 you need to have passed N4
- In order to do N6 you need to have passed N5.
- In order to obtain your diploma in instrumentation you need to pass N6 and have 18 months of workplace experience in a related field.
Ekurhuleni Technical College and Instrumentation Technician qualification and course duration
Ekurhuleni Technical College offers instrument technician qualification and the course duration is between three to four months per level. For example, to obtain your N1 certificate, you need approximately three to four months. The exams are written every trimester and you can write a maximum of three levels in a year depending on your pace and ability to pass the subjects.
Exams for the subjects are national exams offered by the department of higher education and training (DHET) and the quality assurer for N1-N3 is Umalusi and for N4 to N6 is QCTO. Ekurhuleni Technical College is accredited by the three institutions to offer instrument technician. Ekurhuleni Technical College is therefore an accredited institution to offer instrumentation course.
The registration times for the course varies. The following are the general registration times:
- January and you will be registering to write March-April exams
- May and you will be registering to write July-August exams
- September and you will be registering to write November-December exams.
Flexibility of Ekurhuleni Technical College with the studies It is possible to register at any time and write your exams at your convenient time. For exam it is possible to register in January and choose to write your final exams in July-August exams. It is also possible to register for all the subjects or only choose to register part of the subjects depending on your finances. However, it is more financially saving to register all four subjects at once. Once a student has registered all four subjects, they can choose to write all or part of the subjects at any time and they have got a year to finish the course. The timing and selection of writing of exams and subjects are all at the discretion of the student
Extra Resources and Support To Help You Qualify As an Instrument Technician
Register for online Mathematics and Engineering Science Classes
If you are struggling with the core subjects of instrumentation; which are Mathematics and Engineering Science, you can register for online classes. 24 Minute lessons offers extra revision classes for the two subjects and you can take advantage of the specials. Register here for online classes with 24 minute lesson.
Previous Papers with Answers
At times preparing for your final exams can be daunting. You can choose to prepare better for your exams by using papers papers and answers. There is a website with dedicated previous papers with answers for all your Instrumentation subjects from N1-N6. The papers are offered for free for the first downloads and as well as at very discounted prices. Get more information on previous papers here