Precision instrument repairers work with systems that are either automated or controlled by instruments of different sorts. These instruments are often used to measure such things as stress, temperature, humidity, pressure, pH, volume, motion, and chemical composition. The systems are typically either electronic, electrochemical, pneumatic, or hydraulic. Some repairers work with more than one type of system. When a malfunction occurs, repairers start by locating the source of the trouble. If the source of the problem is an instrument, repairers usually disassemble the instrument and check the various parts for defects. They use tools such as vacuum gauges, voltmeters, ammeters, counters, and oscilloscopes.
Precision instrument repairers also use a variety of hand tools, such as screwdrivers and wrenches. Repairers may be called upon to completely overhaul a malfunctioning system, or they may be asked to make minor repairs and replace a few parts. Sometimes replacement parts are not available for older machines. In this case, repairers must build parts that can substitute for the original. They sometimes modify precision instruments for specific uses. They perform routine maintenance and service on systems, including inspecting, cleaning, and lubricating them. They calibrate equipment to ensure the instruments perform well. They also perform preventative maintenance, such as replacing worn parts before they can malfunction.
Those interested in precision instrument repairer positions should have a strong mechanical aptitude. They need to have normal or corrected vision, as well as color vision. Good manual dexterity is also very important. They need to have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. They must have the ability to remember technical data and think projects through in a logical way.
Precision instrument repairers in entry-level positions earn between $9 and $12 per hour. Journey-level employees earn between $14 and $18 per hour; specialized journey-level workers may earn up to $21 per hour. Those with experience can earn up to $28 per hour. Repairers usually work a 40-hour work week, and overtime is usually required during peak times and emergencies. In some facilities, repairers work swing, night, and graveyard shifts. Benefits usually include vacation, insurance, retirement plans, and sometimes stock-option and profit-sharing.
Training and Education
The minimum educational requirements for precision instrument repairers is usually a high school diploma with courses in math and the physical sciences. However, a growing number of companies prefer graduates of technical school or those with college courses in instrumentation. Applicants need to know how to read blueprints, schematic drawings, and engineering specifications. Community colleges offer programs in instrumentation technology that provide students with the necessary background to excel in this occupation. Some firms only hire applicants who have 1 to 5 years of experience in the field of instrumentation.
This is more common in smaller companies who cannot afford to pay for training time. Advancement depends largely on the size of the company. In small companies, repairers can advance to lead mechanic or instrument supervisor. In larger companies, repairers have more room for advancement and can be promoted to a number of different levels of mechanic and technicians positions. These positions offer increased wages and higher levels of responsibility. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of precision instrument repairers is expected to increase more slowly than the average. Most job openings will result from workers retiring, changing occupations, or leaving the work force for other reasons. Opportunities will be best for those with formal training in instrumentation technology from community colleges or trade and technical schools.