In Brazoria County, there are around 20 petrochemical companies that employ more than 14,000 individuals, making it the largest industry in our county. In fact, the Texas Gulf Coast industries are some of the largest suppliers of petrochemicals in the world.
Instrumentation technicians are a central part of these petrochemical facilities. They work with instruments to monitor flow, level, pressure, temperature and chemical composition.
With recent expansions throughout the area, the need for instrumentation technicians is expected to grow even larger.
“Locally the demand is high for instrumentation technicians due to all the expansion activity in the surrounding plants,” said Brazosport College Instrumentation Instructor Steve Reckner. “Retirements within the workforce are also contributing to the demand.”
Instrumentation technicians install, repair and troubleshoot the control systems used in processing plants. They also can work in the manufacturing and sales of control systems for the process industry.
A degree or certificate is often needed to get into this field. Fortunately, an instrumentation degree can be obtained close to home at Brazosport College.
“We prepare students with a foundation in basic instrumentation and electrical training,” Reckner said of his program at Brazosport College. “This should gain them entry into the contractor and/or plant tech groups.”
Brazosport College classes feature hands-on labs with current instrumentation used in local industry. Students also work with instructors who have real-life experience in the industry. Either a certificate or a two-year degree can be obtained at Brazosport College.
“The instrumentation degree is required by many plants for their personnel,” Reckner said. “The certificate program can assist a person with obtaining a contractor position.”
Instrument technicians install, repair and troubleshoot the control systems and instrumentation used in processing plants.
Who is a good fit?
Instrumentation technicians have knowledge of machines, tools, computers and physics, as well as strong troubleshooting and critical-thinking skills. The best candidate is someone who likes to work with both their hands and their head.
Typical training for instrument technicians usually requires an associate degree.
Median pay *
$31.09 hourly; $65,000 annual
Job outlook *
Job opportunities for Instrumentation technicians are expected to grow by 5.3 percent over the next four years. Twenty-five percent of instrument technicians are over the age of 55 and will probably retire soon.
Source: Career Coach (Brazosport.edu/CareerCoach)
* Median wages and job outlook data collected for Electronics Engineering Technician
Instrumentation student seeking career advancement
Koti Wisner is not only seeking an instrumentation degree because he enjoys a challenge, he also envisions the many opportunities the degree will open up for him.
“My understanding is that job placement is very profound with this degree,” Koti said. “With a degree, a few years of work experience and having good references, you can really do a lot of things, from industrial to agriculture. You can kind of write your own ticket. There are so many options.”
Actually, Koti, 26, is already encountering positive options first hand.
The Dickinson resident already has an associate degree in process technology and has enjoyed his time working as an operator. However, he was recently offered a position in the Instrument & Electrical (I&E) field and accepted. Through his company, he is now at Brazosport College working toward a degree in Instrumentation.
He hasn’t looked back since.
“This is a very state-of-the-art program here at Brazosport College,” Koti said. “The Pet Plant has a big variety of instruments to learn and train on. The classroom training here has directly enhanced my ability to learn in the field.”
Another huge benefit of Brazosport College’s instrumentation program is also having a choice of when to take the classes,” he said.
“The schedule here really helps out a lot,” he said. “There are daytime and nighttime classes, which opens up more opportunities for someone like myself who works full-time and wants to advance. There is a lot of flexibility.”
For someone interested in earning a degree or certificate in instrumentation, Koti is quick to point out that Brazosport College is a good choice to learn about this growing field.
“The instrumentation program here is a real representation of what is implemented in the field,” Koti said. “It’s almost a mirror image. For someone considering going back to school, this will really tie in to what you do in the field.”