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Job Photographs

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Using computer software to measure colours.

  • Somebody is placing pieces of blue fabric into a lightbox.

    Visually colour matching a sample from a supplier, using a lightbox.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, talking to a man who is standing beside her.  They are both looking at a piece of light blue fabric.

    Discussing a fabric colour issue with a buyer.

  • Somebody is using a large, grey piece of scientific equipment.

    Measuring the colour of a fabric sample using a spectrophotometer.

  • Somebody is sitting at a table comparing little blue counters.

    Colour technologists need to be able to identify very subtle colour differences.

  • Somebody is opening a drawer, which is full of different coloured cotton reels.

    Taking a thread reference to give to a supplier.

  • Two men and a woman are sitting at a round table.  They are talking.

    Meeting with a supplier.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Looking at a supplier's colour performance.

Colour Technologist

Introduction

Colour technologists research, develop and manage the production and use of dyes and pigments. They work with a variety of materials, such as textiles, fibres, paints and cosmetics.

Also known as

  • Dyeing Technologist
  • Textile Colour Technologist
  • Colour Scientist

Work Activities

Some colour technologists research, develop and produce colorants (dyes and pigments). Others work on the coloration of a wide range of materials, such as fibres, textiles, paper, paint, printing inks, hair and food products, soaps and detergents.

While dyes have been used from very early times, advances over the last century have made the colour technologist's job highly technical and scientific.

Apart from traditional products such as dyes, paint and inks, more modern areas of research and development include colour liquid crystal displays, ink jet printers, dyes used in biomedical science, and the use of colour to prevent fraud, such as fighting fuel fraud with solvent dyes.

In research and development departments, colour technologists work on new products, improve existing ones and investigate the use of cheaper raw materials. They monitor the behaviour of new dyes and pigments to make sure they will not be harmful to the user or the environment.

Development work often involves repeating tests over a long period of time. For example, colour technologists have to make sure the dyes and pigments they develop are colour-fast.

Colour technologists also work in technical sales and service departments. Here, they develop and explain the product's uses, respond to the needs of the industry, and deal with technical problems and queries.

In the clothing industry, most colour technologists work for large retail companies, including some supermarkets. They help people within their company to find clothes and buy them from suppliers (most of which are based outside the UK).

Colour technologists understand how dyeing houses work and the factors that can affect colour quality. This enables them to check that suppliers are doing a good job and keep track of their performance. They ensure that the supplier's products match the colour needed by the retail company, also giving technical advice on the quality of the colour.

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 be a colour technologist, you'll need:

  • An enquiring, logical mind.
  • A high level of scientific knowledge.
  • Good organisational skills.
  • The ability to work well in a team.

Colour technologists should usually have normal colour vision.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Salaries for colour technologists depend on the industry they work in, their employer and level of responsibility. The pay rates given below are approximate.

Colour technologists earn in the range of £20,000 - £29,500 a year, rising to £38,500 - £44,500. Higher salaries are possible, depending on employer, role and responsibilities.

Hours of work

Many technologists work a 39-hour week, Monday to Friday. Technologists working in a production environment might need to do shifts and weekend work.

Where could I work?

Colour technologists can work for industries that use colorants to make things like fibres, textiles, leather, paints, printing inks and food. They also work for companies that make colorants.

Large clothing retail companies, including some supermarkets, usually buy their clothes from textile suppliers based outside the UK. However, they employ colour technologists to work with the suppliers, keeping track of their performance and solving technical problems.

UK textile manufacturers are traditionally based in the East Midlands, the North West, Scotland, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland.

Self-employment

Colour technologists can become self-employed consultants, for example, giving advice to clothing retail companies.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in science magazines such as New Scientist (which also posts jobs on its website), on specialist job boards, for example, for manufacturing industries and clothing retail companies, and in national/local newspapers.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry Routes

An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start.

Graduate entry is usually with a degree in a science, textile or engineering subject. Relevant subjects include chemistry, analytical chemistry, physics and chemical engineering.

Degree courses in textile technology can include options in dyeing and coloration - you should check prospectuses carefully.

Some universities offer courses with a foundation year. This is an extra year for students who don't have the specified science A levels for entry.

Entry is also possible with an HND or foundation degree in a science or engineering subject.

Entry may be possible without a degree, foundation degree or HND, for example, with A levels or equivalent, at technician/technical assistant level, working your way up with more experience and work-related qualifications.

It might be an advantage to complete a postgraduate qualification. You'll usually need a PhD for entry to a research post. A small number of postgraduate courses relevant to colour technology are available.

Training

The Society of Dyers and Colourists offers a range of qualifications, designed to increase members' knowledge and skills, and a pathway leading to the professional status of Chartered Colourist (CCol). The Society also provides a wide range of short and longer courses (including by distance learning), workshops and tutorials.

Progression

You could progress into a supervisory or management position. It's also possible to work as a consultant, for example, to retail companies. Colour technologists can go into different areas of the work, such as research, development, marketing and quality control.

Qualifications

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Graduate entry is usually with a degree in a science, textile or engineering subject. Relevant subjects include chemistry, analytical chemistry, physics and chemical engineering.

The entry requirements for degree courses vary depending on the subject. As a general guide, you'll usually need:

  • 2/3 A levels, including at least one science subject.
  • GCSEs at grade C and above in your A level subjects.
  • A further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C and above, including English and Maths.

Alternatives to separate science GCSEs (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) are:

  • Science and Additional Science, or
  • Science and Additional Applied Science.

You might also need A level Maths, often depending on the degree subject. For example, you'll usually need A level Maths to do a physics or engineering degree. You should check prospectuses carefully to check which, and how many, science/maths subjects you need.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • Edexcel (BTEC) level 3 Nationals
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

However, course requirements vary, so please check prospectuses carefully.

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

Some entrants have developed laboratory skills during industrial work placements.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter a degree, foundation degree or HND course, you might be able to start one after completing an Access course, for example, Access to Science. You don't usually need any qualifications to enter an Access course, although you should check this with the course provider.

Sponsorship

Sponsorship for higher education study of science subjects is sometimes available from industrial organisations and private companies.

Statistics

  • 4% of people in occupations such as colour technology work part-time.
  • 13% have flexible hours.
  • 4% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

The Engineer

Engineering technology news

Email: customerservices@theengineer.co.uk

Website: www.theengineer.co.uk

New Scientist

Publisher: Reed Business Information Ltd

Email: ns.subs@quadrantsubs.com

Website: www.newscientist.com

Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC)

Tel: 01274 725138

Email: info@sdc.org.uk

Website: www.sdc.org.uk

Coloration Technology

Publisher: Society of Dyers and Colourists

Website: www.sdc.org.uk/en/resources/publications/coloration-technology/

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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