Materials technicians work within a team of scientists, engineers and other technicians on the testing and development of materials used in the design and manufacture of products, components and structures. Materials may be new or they may be existing combinations modified to improve performance. They include plastics, metals, alloys, concrete and composites.
Technicians investigate materials' characteristics under different conditions and test for strength, safety, reliability, efficiency and environmental impact. They use a variety of techniques including non-destructive testing. For more detailed information about this aspect of the job, see the profile for non-destructive testing (NDT) technician. Test results and data are collated and reports compiled for evaluation.
Technicians work in fields where the satisfactory performance of materials is vital to the durability and safety of a structure or product. These fields include:
Materials technicians must have knowledge of a variety of engineering disciplines, and many of them are qualified in mechanical, electrical, electronic or civil engineering.
Materials technicians work 37 to 40 hours a week. Overtime may be available.
Depending on their work, they could be based in an office, laboratory or manufacturing environment. Some travel may also be involved.
To be a materials technician, you should:
Large numbers of people are employed in the various branches of industry, and there is a regular demand for skilled technical staff in all sectors.
It is possible to progress to senior technician, or alternatively to move into purchasing, sales and management. You may also find work with an engineering consultancy providing materials testing services for clients. With further training you may be able to qualify as an engineer. See the profile for materials engineer for details.
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