Materials technologists work with materials such as metals, plastics, rubbers and ceramics. They study how the composition, structure, processing and application of these materials, are inter-related.
Devising and creating new materials and processes, both in the laboratory and in the factory, is a major part of the work. Technicians assist materials technologists and carry out routine tasks such as laboratory tests.
Materials technologists working with metals are called metallurgists. There are also specialist technologists who work with materials such as ceramics and polymers.
Materials scientists consider the structure and properties of materials, and how these are affected by composition/processing.
Materials engineers are concerned with the processing and applications of materials, but also need to understand their composition, structure and properties.
The work takes place during office hours. Shift work or part-time work may be available.
The working environment may be a laboratory, an office or the factory floor. Outdoor work may sometimes be involved.
Some jobs, such as those concerned with selling materials, require considerable travel.
To be a materials technologists you will need:
Materials technologists are employed in a wide range of industries, including the primary production and fabrication of metals, polymers and ceramics. Other areas of work may be in: construction; electronics; telecommunications; consumer goods manufacturing; packaging; and the biomedical industries.
One of the major employers of metallurgists is Corus (British Steel). Other metal producing, refining and fabricating companies also employ metallurgists.
Materials technologists work in: research and development; production management; quality control; purchasing; sales and marketing. There is currently a strong demand for materials technologists, particularly those with a metals, ceramics or polymer background.
Promotion prospects are good. There are opportunities throughout the UK, and overseas.
Self-employment, usually as a consultant, is possible.
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From March 2002, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills began licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website: www.ssda.org.uk