Becoming an Instrumentation Scientist: Job Description & Salary

About this article
An instrumentation scientist designs, maintains and analyzes the performance of various types of instrumentation. Requirements vary depending on the particular field, but generally include an advanced degree and experience in the particular field.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as an Instrumentation Scientist

An instrumentation scientist works in research and is involved in the development, design, construction, employment and use of field related instrumentation. Find out more about the pros and cons associated with becoming an instrumentation scientist to ensure it's the career for you:

Pros of Being an Instrumentation Scientist
High average salary of $78,258*
Jobs available in the fields of astronomy, space, electron acceleration or in the nuclear industry

Cons of Being an Instrumentation Scientist
May require several years of industry experience
Positions may require computer skills
A degree is required


Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Many jobs for instrumental scientists are in research and involve the development, design, construction, employment and use of field related instrumentation. They may be required to diagnose faults and troubleshoot instruments. Additional duties may involve continuing and scheduled maintenance, assessment of quality control, monitoring of scientific performance and calibration.

Salary Info and Career Growth

The BLS - Bureau of Labor Statistics - does not list data for instrumentation scientists, but it does conclude that job opportunities for astronomers and physicists in general will increase by about 7% in the decade 2014-24. Physicists made a median yearly salary of $109,600 in 2014, astronomers earned $105,410 and salaries for engineers varied depending on the field. found that instrumentation engineers in general made a median salary of $78,258 in 2016; many of those surveyed worked in factories and plants.

What Are the Requirements?

Job requirements depend on the employer and the industry sector, but most positions demand a formal degree in the discipline that the position involves as well as several years of industry related experience. Most jobs require that the applicant have exceptional computer skills and the ability to connect up computers with a variety of hardware components. They should have good instrumentation and experimental skills as well as familiarity with the range of instrumentation essential to the particular industry.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers looked for applicants who were well educated in specific areas for this career. Below are real job listings that were available in November 2015.

  • A college in Colorado is seeking applications for a tenure-track position in the field of experimental/instrumentation physics. Applicants should be familiar with the applications of instrumentation. Applicants should also be able to establish a research program and support students.
  • An instrumentation scientist with experience with ion source development is needed at an instrumentation company located in California. Job requirements include a bachelor's degree or above, and experience with low pressure electron ionization, glow discharge, ADI-MS and more. This position's responsibilities include designing new technology and participating in experiments.

How Can I Stand Out?

An undergraduate degree and experience are generally required to find work in this career. Specialization in one or more forms of instrumentation will help you increase your odds of employment. Many employers look for an impressive CV or a history of publication.

Alternative Careers


A career as a chemist typically begins with a bachelor's degree. Chemists may work on research projects with other scientists or technicians. Many work in laboratory environments, where they conduct tests and compile reports. Chemists often need to present their findings to other scientists or engineers. In May 2012, chemists earned an average yearly salary of $73,060, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also predicted job growth of 6% in this field from 2012-2022.

Instrument Technician

Instrument technicians generally study to receive certificates or a two year degree. Technicians usually work with either medical or electrical instruments. Entry-level employees in this field may need to work second or third shift. Technicians will be required to maintain and repair a variety of instruments. According to, instrument technicians made between $25,914 and $87,644 yearly as of September 2015.

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