Ceramics technologists carry out work concerned with the science and technology of ceramic materials. They work in research, development, production and quality control. Technologists usually specialise in an area of work, such as the design of new products or testing raw materials.
Also known as
- Materials Technologist, Ceramics
- Pottery Technologist
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As a Ceramics Technologist, you will work in the research, development, production and quality control of ceramics and ceramic products.
Ceramic materials are used to make a wide range of products such as:
- pottery (tableware, washbasins and electrical insulation)
- building materials (bricks, tiles, drains, concrete and cement)
- heat resistant materials for furnaces
- electrical and electronic parts
You will research, analyse and test raw materials and ceramic products, to discover their structure, and chemical and physical properties. Structures are examined using microscopes and X-ray images.
You'll need to select and use appropriate tests, to find out the ability of each ceramic product to withstand conditions, such as high temperatures, mechanical stress and environmental erosion. You also think of new, more accurate methods of testing.
In development work, you will design new ceramic materials to meet certain requirements. Ceramics can be used to make electronic components, jet engines, lasers and human joint replacements (as well as the more traditional pottery and building materials).
If you work in production and quality control departments, you are in direct contact with the manufacturing process. You need to be knowledgeable about every stage of production. Stages include:
- the preparation of raw materials
- the selection of a suitable heat treatment
- forming of clays/minerals
Technologists deal with problems that happen at any stage of the process and advise on ways of using new ceramics. You may also develop traditional methods to get certain results.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Ceramics Technologist, you'll need to:
- have excellent problem-solving skills
- be confident enough to make decisions, for example, if a change is needed in the production process
- have maths and IT skills
- be a well-organised person
- be a good communicator, as you could be dealing with lots of different people within a company
- have an interest in science, especially chemistry
This job might not be suitable for people who have skin conditions, such as eczema, or breathing complaints, such as asthma.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £30,500 - £34,000
- With experience: £37,000 - £45,000
- Senior Ceramics Technologists earn £49,500 - £54,000
Hours of work
Technologists usually work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Occasional late finishes may be required, and shift work is common in production work.
Where could I work?
Employers are ceramics and glass manufacturers. Other employers are research establishments and electronics and telecommunications firms.
Opportunities for Ceramics Technologists occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Universal Jobmatch, and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
Entrants to this career are usually graduates. Degrees in subjects related to materials technology are very useful for people wishing to go into this type of work. Relevant courses are available at various universities and colleges of higher education throughout the UK.
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
It may also be possible to gain entry to this career after studying a more general subject area such as physics, chemistry or ceramics.
An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start. Take a look at our information article
Relevant HNCs, HNDs and foundation degrees are available. You could use these as a route to a full degree course, or possibly as a way of entering this career at a junior level.
Training will usually be on-the-job where you will be supervised by an experienced Ceramics Technologist.
After your degree, many Ceramics Technologists go on to study at postgraduate level. There are various relevant courses available throughout the UK. Course titles to look for include ceramics, ceramics and glass, and ceramics and engineering.
Previous experience working with ceramics or in an art and design position would be really useful for this career.
Progression will often be to positions with greater responsibility and more supervisory duties.
For entry to a relevant degree, the usual requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels where subjects like maths, chemistry and physics are useful
- GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in your A level subjects
- a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English, maths and a science subject
Other qualifications are often acceptable as alternatives to A levels, for example:
- BTEC level 3 qualification in art and design
- City and Guilds level 3 qualification in craft
- City and Guilds level 3 qualifications in design and craft - 3D studies (ceramics)
- a design Advanced Level Apprenticeship
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
However, entry requirements for different courses vary, so check college/university websites for more details.
To get onto an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need at least 2 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Practical skills gained in industry are often valued by employers.
Working as a ceramics/materials technician can lead on to entry into technologist level posts.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.
Financial support is available through universities for postgraduate courses from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
- 4% of people in this career work part-time.
- 17% are self-employed.
- 17% have flexible hours.
- 4% work on a temporary basis.
Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:
- To support their members.
- To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.
For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.
Engineering technology news
Skills for the creative industries
Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills
Creative & Cultural Skills
Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Address: Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1ET
Tel: 01793 444000
Skills for process and manufacturing industries
Address: Centurion Court, 85b Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RY
Tel: 01235 833844
Careers in manufacturing
Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3)
Address: 1 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DB
Tel: 020 7451 7300
British Ceramic Confederation (BCC)
Address: Federation House, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2SA
Tel: 01782 744631
Address: 13 Blunts Wood Road, Haywards Heath, Sussex RH16 1ND
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844