Summary of occupation
Materials technicians work with materials engineers to test the behaviour of materials such as minerals, metals, ceramics and polymers. They examine and test the performance of materials used in machinery and structures to find possible faults such as cracks, flaws, corrosion and other imperfections.
Materials technicians may test materials to eliminate faults, improve the qualities of existing materials, and assess the safety and environmental impact of materials. They may work in the construction, transport, metal fabrication and manufacturing industries across the State.
Tests materials as part of mineral and metal processing and refining, or for research into metals, ceramics, polymers and other materials in support of Metallurgists and Materials Engineers. Registration or licensing may be required.
A materials technician needs:
- an interest in science and manufacturing processes
- to enjoy engineering and technical work
- good problem solving skills
- attention to detail
- good communication skills
- to be able to work alone or as part of a team.
Materials technicians may work in offices, testing laboratories, manufacturing plants or workshops. They may be required to travel to sites to test materials. In line with occupational health and safety requirements, materials technicians may use a range of personal protective equipment (PPE), which will vary depending on the specific work being carried out.
On average, metallurgical or materials technicians, classified under other building and engineering technicians, can expect to earn approximately $2 574 per week ($133 838 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.
Materials technicians may use non-destructive testing techniques to inspect materials, such as X-rays, gamma rays and ultrasonography, to find internal faults in structures. They may inspect welds in pressure vessels and steel structures with fibre optic cameras. They may also use electrical eddy current testing to measure the differences in the flow of current to detect flaws in welds and other conductive materials. They may also use thermal imaging to find defects in concrete.
To become a materials technician, you usually need to complete a formal qualification in engineering, engineering – technical, or laboratory techniques.
The Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques, Diploma of Engineering – Technical and the Advanced Diploma of Engineering are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.
You can also complete a traineeship. The technical assistant (polymer testing), (manufacturing testing), (construction material testing) or (mineral assay), manufacturing technologist – polymer technology, and polymer technologist (manufacturing) traineeships usually take 12 to 24 months to complete.
You will require certification to work in non-destructive testing. Contact the Australian Institute for Non-Destructive Testing (AINDT) for more information.
To operate radiation equipment such as gamma rays and X-rays in Western Australia, you must obtain a licence from the Radiological Council. Contact the Council for more information.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.