Instrument Fitter Job Description
Instrument fitters work in factories or other industrial settings, where they assemble instruments, tools, equipment, and systems such as tubing, plumbing, and electrical components. They typically work with minimal supervision but sometimes collaborate closely with scientists, engineers, and designers to create tools and instruments.
This detail-oriented and physically demanding job requires no specific training, and some instrument fitters learn on the job. However, many employers prefer candidates who have two to four years of experience and can demonstrate their skills. They generally work a traditional 40-hour workweek, though some companies hire on a temporary or project basis.
Instrument Fitter Duties and Responsibilities
Instrument fitters primarily assemble equipment and tools, though their day-to-day roles may vary based on their particular skill sets and the type and size of their company. However, after reviewing multiple listings, we've identified several tasks common to most instrument fitter jobs:
Interpret Blueprints and Instructions
Instrument fitters start by reviewing detailed blueprints, drawings, plans, and instructions for the tools and equipment they're going to assemble. They must understand how to read these guides and apply them without error, which requires analyzing and implementing highly technical data.
Assemble Instruments and Tools
With the help of schematics and blueprints, instrument fitters put together precision instruments, tools, and systems ranging from electrical to plumbing.
Select Appropriate Tools and Equipment
Instrument fitters need in-depth knowledge of the various power tools and other equipment used for instrument fitting and assembly so they can choose the correct tools for each job. In addition to hand tools, they may also operate heavy machinery such as forklifts.
To make tools and systems, instrument fitters must often first lay out, measure, and cut piping and other materials used to make the equipment and instruments they'll assemble. Precision is paramount for this task, so it's often something they spend a great deal of time on.
After they've assembled the instruments and tools, instrument fitters conduct quality control checks to ensure they're put together correctly and functioning properly.
Instrument fitters regularly inspect all work areas, tools, and equipment, cleaning them after use and repairing machinery as needed. They also set up work areas and position and calibrate equipment.
Instrument Fitter Skills and Qualifications
Strong technical and physical skills are crucial qualities for instrument fitters. Employers typically seek candidates with the following traits:
- Physical fitness – instrument fitters may stand for extended periods and also need the physical strength to safely operate heavy machinery and tools. They also need dexterity and fine motor skills to assemble small and sometimes delicate parts
- Safety knowledge – this job frequently requires handling heavy tools and equipment in addition to operating tools that have blades or other sharp components. In addition, instrument fitters may install electrical systems or assemble electric tools, requiring an understanding of safety procedures and the proper use of gloves, goggles, and other protective gear
- Good vision – assembling instruments often requires looking at items closely to assemble small parts and spot any mistakes or defects
- Reading and comprehension skills – instrument fitters used detailed instructions and plans to guide them, and must know how to interpret written and verbal instructions as well as drawings
- Versatility – it's common for instrument fitters to assist in tasks outside of their direct duties, so it’s important that they have a wide range of technical knowledge and the ability to quickly change gears
- Collaboration – while instrument fitters typically work independently, they sometimes consult with other members of the design team
Tools of the Trade
Instrument fitters work in a factory environment that requires a significant amount of manual labor and proficiency using the following tools and gear:
- Protective gear (gloves, goggles)
- Power tools (saws, drills)
- Machinery (forklifts)
Instrument Fitter Education and Training
Training and education requirements vary by employer, but many instrument fitters only need a high school diploma or GED. Many instrument fitters learn on the job, but some employers prefer candidates who have previous experience. Applicants often prove their experience and skill by taking a pre-employment test. Instrument fitters also typically need a driver's license and must pass a drug test and background screening.
Instrument Fitter Salary and Outlook
Instrument fitters, categorized as assemblers and fabricators by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earn a median annual salary of $31,850. For those in the top 10 percent, annual salaries can exceed $53,120. For those in the bottom 10 percent, they make less than $21,270 per year. The BLS expects employment opportunities in this field to decrease 14 percent through 2026, due to a reduced need for dedicated instrument fitters as manufacturing becomes more efficient and requires fewer workers.
Ready to launch your career as an instrument fitter? We've compiled a list of valuable resources that can help you get started and enhance your employment prospects:
Industrial Workers of the World – designed for industrial workers in all fields all over the world, this professional association advocates for its members and features committees that focus on everything from research to equal rights regardless of gender
Fabricator Red-Hot Career Guide – land your dream job in instrument fitting, assembly, or fabrication with this in-depth guide to interviewing that includes 2,500 potential interview questions and how to answer them
Beginner's Guide to Reading Schematics – instrument fitters often use schematics to guide their work, so understanding how to read them is crucial. This introductory text explains how to read and interpret schematics and plans and use them to assemble systems and tools