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Summary of occupation

Metallurgists use their specialised knowledge of the chemical and physical properties of metals and minerals to extract them from their natural ores, and further refine them through processes such as casting or alloying. Some metallurgists specialise in research to develop new, efficient processes that are economically viable.

ANZSCO description: Researches, develops, controls and provides advice on processes used in extracting metals from their ores, and processes used for casting, alloying, heat treating or welding refined metals, alloys and other materials to produce commercial metal products or develop new alloys and processes. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Metallurgical Engineer, Minerals Engineer
Specialisations: Extractive Metallurgist, Hydrometallurgical Engineer, Metallographer, Physical/Industrial Metallurgist, Pyrometallurgical Engineer, Radiological Metallurgist
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A metallurgist needs to:

  • be able to work as part of a team
  • enjoy technical and engineering work
  • be able to identify, analyse and solve problems
  • be able to communicate orally, in writing and using graphs
  • be able to adhere and contribute to strict safety requirements
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Working conditions

Metallurgists may work in a variety of locations, including offices, laboratories, mine sites and metal refineries. In some instances, metallurgists may have to work at heights or in confined spaces to collect samples. Metallurgists working at mine sites may be required to live on site away from home or work on a fly-in, fly-out basis, which involves working on site for a period of time and then returning home for a break.

Metallurgists must abide by strict safety procedures to minimise risks when working with chemicals and high temperatures.

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Salary details

On average, graduate metallurgists can expect to earn between $1 442 and $1 923 per week ($75 000 and $100 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a metallurgist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Metallurgists use a range of specialised machinery and equipment to collect and analyse samples of ore, minerals and metals. They may also use standard scientific and laboratory equipment, such as microscopes and measuring devices. Because they frequently use furnaces, chemicals and other potentially hazardous equipment they must also wear appropriate safety clothing.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a metallurgist you usually need to complete a degree in science with a major in extractive metallurgy, mineral science, or engineering science, or a degree in engineering with a major in chemical and metallurgical engineering or chemical engineering.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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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.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

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.

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