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  • A woman in a blue lab coat is looking at a computer screen.  On the screen are some tables and graphs.

    Tracking the progress of a new project.

  • Two women are in a lab.  They are both wearing blue lab coats.  One woman is holding a plastic box.

    People skills are important to do well in this career.

  • A woman in a blue lab coat is filling a small, green container with water.

    Preparing a raw material sample for particle size distribution analysis.

  • A woman is using a pipette to put a drop of water into a metal jug.

    Accuracy is essential in this kind of work.

  • Three women are standing in a room.  They are all wearing blue lab coats.

    Discussing trials with the glaze approval team.

  • Two women are in a studio.  One woman is sitting down. The other woman, wearing a blue lab coat, is holding a white cup.

    Discussing a project with one of the design team.

  • A woman in a blue lab coat is holding two beige cups and comparing them.

    Assessing glaze trials for colour and matching to production standards.

  • A woman in a blue lab coat is holding a small, green plastic container.  She is in a lab.

    Particle size distribution analysis.

  • Ceramics Technologist

Ceramics Technologist

Introduction

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

Video: - Jim: Ceramics Technologist

Video: - Adele: Ceramics Technologist

Work Activities

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
  • polishing

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

Pay

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

Entry routes

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 'Internships', for more details.

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 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

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

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.

Work Experience

Previous experience working with ceramics or in an art and design position would be really useful for this career.

Progression

Progression will often be to positions with greater responsibility and more supervisory duties.

Qualifications

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.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

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.

Skills/experience

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.

Courses

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.

Funding

Financial support is available through universities for postgraduate courses from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Statistics

  • 4% of people in this career work part-time.
  • 17% are self-employed.
  • 17% have flexible hours.
  • 4% work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

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.

The Engineer

Engineering technology news

Email: customerservices@theengineer.co.uk

Website: www.theengineer.co.uk

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Address: Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1ET

Tel: 01793 444000

Website: www.epsrc.ac.uk

Proskills UK

Skills for process and manufacturing industries

Address: Centurion Court, 85b Park Drive, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4RY

Tel: 01235 833844

Email: info@proskills.co.uk

Website: www.proskills.co.uk

Prospect4u

Careers in manufacturing

Website: www.prospect4u.co.uk

Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3)

Address: 1 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DB

Tel: 020 7451 7300

Website: www.iom3.org

British Ceramic Confederation (BCC)

Address: Federation House, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2SA

Tel: 01782 744631

Email: bcc@ceramfed.co.uk

Website: www.ceramfed.co.uk

Studiopottery.co.uk

Address: 13 Blunts Wood Road, Haywards Heath, Sussex RH16 1ND

Email: info@studiopottery.co.uk

Website: www.studiopottery.co.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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