Materials technician

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Materials technicians test the behaviour of materials under different conditions to help develop new products and improve existing ones.

Salary range: £15,000 to £30,000

How to become a materials technician

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

College

You could do a college course to learn some of the skills you’ll need for this job. Courses include:

  • Level 3 Certificate in Laboratory Technical Skills
  • Level 3 Diploma in Engineering
  • Level 3 Diploma in Applied Science
  • T level in Design, Surveying and Planning

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level

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Apprenticeship

You could start by doing a non-destructive tester intermediate or advanced apprenticeship.

You could also do a composites technician advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science

More information

Work

You could start as a lab assistant or trainee technician in a testing facility and complete training while you work to qualify.

Employers will expect you to have 4 or 5 GCSEs, including maths, English and a science, preferably physics or chemistry. Some may want you to have A levels, or equivalent qualifications like applied science.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about careers in materials engineering from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • knowledge of physics
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • testing materials’ strength and flexibility under different conditions
  • testing materials’ characteristics, like chemical composition
  • assessing the cost, reliability, safety and environmental impact of materials
  • researching new ways to use materials in the development of products
  • assessing the risks posed by hazardous materials
  • analysing test results and writing reports

Working environment

You could work in a laboratory.

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

Career path and progression

You could become a senior technician and register with the Engineering Council to get EngTech status. With further training, you could qualify as a materials engineer.

You could also move into purchasing, sales and management.

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