The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) says electronics repairers of commercial and industrial equipment held about 72,000 jobs in 1998.
It is hard to determine exactly how many IITs are currently employed in the U.S. The Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society (ISA), which is based in the U.S., has about 43,000 members worldwide. The ISA has several sections across the U.S.,
with varying membership sizes. The New Jersey section, for example, has about 125 members.
The OOH says workers in this category of occupations will experience an average rate of job growth through 2008. "Many job openings should result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force," says
Dick Glass of the Electronics Technicians Association is quite optimistic about employment outlook in the field. "There's still a steady demand for technicians in the industrial setting....Each job becomes more and more computerized and more electronic
every year. So they need more capable workers to handle it all. It's not a production-line type of thing."
But Bob Purdue, an industrial field technician working in Bridgeview, Illinois, has a different view on job availability. "I think there's really not a lot of instrument techs. A lot of companies will use their own engineers to start up the instrumentation.
If they have problems, that's usually when I'll get a phone call and hop in the car or jump in a plane and go correct things," says Purdue.
He says when he entered the field years ago, it was relatively inexpensive to keep a service person on staff. Now, instrumentation specialists require expensive support systems.
Peter Collins is the vice-president of the Central New Jersey section of the ISA. He sees a positive job picture. "There's great potential because there is a need for people with current technological knowledge, in a field like electronics, to work
on some of the analog mechanical systems in the plants," he says.
"There's quite a bit to be done to bring current equipment up to date with technology."
In 1998, electronics repairers of commercial and industrial equipment earned an average wage of $17.11 an hour, says the OOH. While some earned less than $10.22 an hour, others were paid more than $23.81 an hour.
Collins says earnings depend on several factors. But on average, he puts the entry-level salary at around $30,000. High-end earners tend to work in the administrative side of things and could make between $50,000 to $60,000 a year.