Instrument Maker

Instrument makers manufacture, install and repair instruments. Very high standards have to be met with regard to the design and production of instruments to be used by scientists, industrial organizations and academic institutions.

Instruments may be classified according to their use, as follows:

  • Mechanical instruments: used for mechanical purposes e.g. watches, thermometers, odometers and pressure gauges
  • Optical instruments: including spectacles, telescopes and cameras, the production of which requires a high degree of skill and accuracy
  • Electrical instruments: such as voltmeters, ammeters, kilowatt gauges and delicate electronic equipment
  • Chemical instruments: including very complex apparatus used in chemical engineering
  • Medical instruments and apparatus: such as scissors and pincers
The instruments have to be checked regularly and defects should be detected and repaired by an instrument maker.

Instrument makers work mostly indoors in designing and manufacturing plants. Working conditions depend on the field of specialisation: mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, chemical or optical. In many cases control panels are in comfortable surroundings.

Personal Requirements

  • work meticulously
  • very accurate and precise
  • mathematical ability and mechanical aptitude
  • diligent and patient
  • good hand and finger dexterity
  • practical
  • enjoy the design and manufacture of scale models
  • good eyesight

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate or an N3.

What to Study

Register with an employer providing suitable training. Training consists of theoretical and practical work:

  • Theoretical training: at a TVET College, correspondence course at UNISA
  • Practical training: in-service training under supervision of a qualified tradesman
Duration of course: 5 years but it could be shorter if the candidate has higher educational qualifications
Final examination: a compulsory trade test set by the Department of Labour to qualify as an artisan

During learnership training, emphasis is placed on the safety measures that are related to electrical work, poisonous or flammable gases, the use of hand-tools, the handling of melted or hot metals, fluids and gases under pressure, and the handling of machinery. Training covers a wide field and includes, amongst others, the following:
  • Precision measurements - the use of precision measurement tools to make measurements according to sketches
  • Turning work, the measurement of tools and tolerances, closure of appliances
  • Manufacturing of instruments such as voltmeters, ammeters and galvanometers, as well as the installation and maintenance of instrument system


  • such organisations as: Sasol, Mittal Steel, Telkom, South African Airways, Eskom
  • municipalities
  • electrical factories
  • manufacturing industries
  • self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can start own business

Further Information

Getting Started

  • arrange to speak to instrument makers and watch them at work
  • consult the Registrar of Manpower Training concerning learnership programmes available in your area

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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