Calibration Technician Job Description
Calibration technicians typically work in full-time positions in aerospace, electrical, defense, medical device, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing industries. They calibrate, test, monitor, and repair equipment and devices to ensure proper performance, precision, and accuracy.
The term calibration technician I is used to describe technicians who are new to the occupation. Individuals with more experience are classified under the category of calibration technician II, while those with the most experience (and responsibilities) are described with the term calibration technician III.
Calibration Technician Duties and Responsibilities
While a calibration technician’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:
Calibration technicians use various tools to calibrate electrical, mechanical, and electronic instruments and equipment. Their work ensures that recording, measuring, and indicating devices and equipment meet established standards and consistently produce accurate and reliable results.
Conduct Routine Testing
Routine testing allows calibration technicians to determine if instruments and equipment are performing within established ranges. Calibration technicians analyze test data to make decisions about the need for calibration, repair, and maintenance.
Regular maintenance is sometimes required to ensure instruments and equipment meet performance and quality standards. Calibration technicians use systems and software to track, schedule, and perform maintenance tasks.
Calibration technicians contribute to the repair of instruments, equipment and control systems. They may repair these items themselves or provide support to other individuals and departments throughout the repair process.
Prepare Documentation and Reports
Calibration technicians document service through reports and other paperwork. They prepare calibration certificates, data reports, and written recommendations for department heads and upper management.
Calibration Technician Skills and Qualifications
Calibration technicians need strong measurement abilities and analysis skills to quickly and accurately calibrate, monitor, test, and repair equipment. Many employers prefer candidates with the following skills:
- Measurement skills – calibration technicians use the seven base units of the International System of Units (meter, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, candela, and mole); calculate and convert derived units (such as degree, ohm, joule, etc.), apply multipliers to convert values; and apply various types of measurement standards (such as primary, reference, intrinsic, etc.) depending on the situation
- Mathematical knowledge – an understanding of applied and technical mathematics, including probability; statistical inference; and concepts such as fractions, percentages, ratios, and proportions, is required to calculate uncertainty in measurement
- Troubleshooting capability – calibration technicians need troubleshooting skills to determine the reasons why measurements and test results are not within the expected range
- Analytical ability – the ability to analyze raw data, extract key information, and draw logical conclusions about data is important since calibration technicians analyze test results, make recommendations, and apply innovative solutions to complex problems.
- Communication skills – calibration technicians communicate on a regular basis with colleagues and clients; they need excellent verbal and written communication skills to convey information related to standards, protocols, equipment, and safety
Tools of the Trade
Calibration technicians often use the following tools in the course of their work:
- Inspection, measurement and test equipment (digital multimeters, oscilloscopes, RF signal generators, frequency counters, function generators, etc.)
- Quality control tools (flowcharts, check sheets, Pareto diagrams, control charts, process charts, etc.)
- Maintenance systems and software (computerized maintenance management system, laboratory information management system, etc.)
- Word processing and spreadsheet programs (Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, etc.)
Calibration Technician Education and Training
Calibration technicians typically need a diploma from a technical, military, or trade school or an associate’s degree in engineering, electronics, or another technical field for entry-level or mid-level positions. Some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, electronics, or another technical field plus several years of job experience for a senior-level position.
Calibration technicians do not need to be licensed or certified. However, job candidates can demonstrate their familiarity with calibration, inspection, measurement, and testing techniques by earning the ASQ Certified Calibration Technician (CCT). This certification is available to technicians who have at least five years of work experience. Some of the work experience requirements are waived for calibration technicians who have earned a diploma or a degree from a technical school, trade school, military school, college, or university.
Calibration Technician Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), calibration technicians earn a median annual wage of $64,000. The highest paid technicians (in the top 10 percent) earn almost $94,000, while the lowest paid technicians (in the bottom 10 percent) earn less than $35,000. Many calibration technicians also receive paid vacation and insurance benefits in addition to regular compensation.
Growth in this occupation is expected to be slower than growth in other technical occupations. Overall, the BLS projects a two percent decline in employment for calibration technicians from 2016 to 2026. Job candidates with a degree, work experience, and certification have the best prospects.
Want to learn more about working as a calibration technician? Here is a list of industry resources to help you master key skills and find more information about this career path:
American Society of Quality (ASQ) – this international organization provides individual members with calibration technician career information, training, certification, and quality resources, including books, articles, and case studies.
International System of Units (SI): How the World Measures Almost Everything, and the People Who Made It Possible – written by Dr. Edmund Isakov. Ph.D, a metal worker and manufacturing sciences writer, this guide to the metric system describes units of the metric system and delves into the origin and use of SI units in the United States and other countries around the world.
Everything Electrical How To Use All The Functions On Your Multimeter – this comprehensive guide was written by Michael Cable for calibration technicians. It contains an overview of basic principles, definitions for common terminology, information on calibration techniques, diagrams, reference tables, and other learning tools.
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