The primary focus of instrumentation engineering is the development and implementation of electrical and electronic instruments for the purpose of measuring, monitoring, and recording physical phenomena. Among many other types of instruments, instrumentation engineers develop seismic sensors, blood glucose sensors, fire detectors, and amperemeters.
Instruments developed by instrumentation engineers include analog, digital, and mixed signal electronic devices. Major users of these instruments include industries that rely on automated processes, such as chemical and manufacturing plants. They depend on these devices for safety, and for improving productivity and reliability. A very large field of work is also offered in biomedical engineering, and in metrology (the discipline that provides devices for technical measurements).
The scope of instrumentation engineering is vast, and appears to be growing, in part due to the increased use of automatic control in manufacturing and process plants. Growth is also tied to the development of more accurate and more robust sesnors, which allow us to detect phenomena of interest (such as the presence of minute levels of toxins in food) with much higher precision than what we could do a generation ago.
The Applied Electronics and Instrumentation curriculum in most universities includes courses on the design of analog and digital electronic devices used for measurement and control of parameters such as flow, pressure, temperature, and level, and the calibration of such instruments. Students learn to program microcontrollers, and to design and implement communication networks composed of sensors, actuators, and programmable logic controllers (PLC). Since instrumentation engineering is closely related to control engineering, some universities include courses on signals, systems, and control theory.
The degree title mentioned in the question, Applied Electronics and Instrumentation, is most popular in India. Therefore, we decided to look at what Indian universities that offer Applied Electronics and Instrumentation degrees say about the career paths that graduates are likely to have.
Here is what the Department of Applied Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering at the Silicon Institute of Technology in Bhubaneswar says about career prospects of its graduates:
The demand for Applied Electronics is growing rapidly and job opportunities for graduates are multi-faceted. The graduates can work as Manufacturing Engineers in [multi-national corporations] like Sony, LG, Samsung, and Philips, as quality controllers, research, design & development consultants, entrepreneurs, and teachers.
The Applied Electronics and Instrumentation Department at Manav Rachna College of Engineering also cites rapid growth and the diverse application of the field:
The field of Applied Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering is growing at a very fast pace. Over the past three decades the field of instrumentation has seen an extremely widespread application in almost all discipline of engineering e.g., mining & metallurgy, robotics, textile, rolling mills, cranes & hoists, arc furnaces, chemical engineering, process control, and static relays.
Some professional societies for instrumentation that provide educational and career information about this growing field are the Instrument Society of America; the Instrumentation and Measurements Society of IEEE; the Institute of Diagnostic Engineers (US), and the Institute of Measurement and Control (UK).