In Summary - Materials Technician
Materials Technicians typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Materials Technician
Materials technicians help materials scientists and technologists. They work with a very wide range of materials, from basic matter like atoms and molecules, to metals, plastics, cement, glass, sand and electronics. They investigate materials characteristics under different conditions and test for strength, safety, reliability, efficiency and environmental impact.
In primary processing, technicians help to extract and refine materials, including metals. They may recycle materials like ceramics and glass, and metals like steel. In secondary processing, technicians convert materials into products, for example, making plastics from materials produced when petroleum is refined.
Technicians work to strict standards, including government and European Union legislation. For example, they may work on materials that meet or surpass fire safety regulations, using X-rays to analyse the internal effects of high temperatures on metals. A senior technician often interprets results and may produce a written report for scientists and technologists.
Technicians operate and maintain sophisticated equipment, including automated testing systems, electron microscopes, X-ray machines and computers. The materials technician works in oil rigs, aviation, medical equipment and in civil engineering.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Review new product plans and make recommendations for material selection based on design objectives, such as strength, weight, heat resistance, electrical conductivity, and cost.
- Supervise the work of technologists, technicians, and other engineers and scientists.
- Analyze product failure data and laboratory test results to determine causes of problems and develop solutions.
- Conduct or supervise tests on raw materials or finished products to ensure their quality.
- Plan and implement laboratory operations for the purpose of developing material and fabrication procedures that meet cost, product specification, and performance standards.
- Design and direct the testing or control of processing procedures.
- Monitor material performance and evaluate material deterioration.
- Perform managerial functions, such as preparing proposals and budgets, analyzing labor costs, and writing reports.
- Plan and evaluate new projects, consulting with other engineers and corporate executives as necessary.
- Guide technical staff engaged in developing materials for specific uses in projected products or devices.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Interests - Materials Technician
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
As a materials technician, you must be interested in practical science and the potential uses of materials. You will need a patient, methodical and investigative approach to research, development and testing. You should have good analytical and problem solving skills.
You must be able to express your findings clearly. Senior technicians may write reports of the team's work. You will need good communication skills to express your findings clearly to team members. You should have good computer skills. Teamwork is important in this career.
You should have normal colour vision.
Entry Requirements - Materials Technician
To become a materials technician, candidates typically find relevant employment and then complete a course of study.
Relevant courses include Higher Certificate and Bachelor Degree programmes in Materials Science, Metals Technology, Ceramic Science, and Engineering.
A range of courses are available at the Institutes of Technology countrywide.
Last Updated: October, 2014
Pay & Salary - Materials Technician
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 20k - 37k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.