Metallurgical technicians get to play around with metals, to discover how they can be used in developing everyday products. In this job, you could work as a primary metallurgical technician, sampling and examining rocks and minerals; or, you could become a secondary metallurgical technician, developing new alloys. Since a vast number of products used by people are comprised of metals, you may experience a sense of fulfillment working in a such vital job. An added bonus: You may even get to play outside and wear a cool hard hat.
If you’re an analytical woman who enjoys math and science, you’ve got a head start toward success in this job. Maybe you enjoy taking things apart to see what makes them work, or love the technical challenges presented by engineering problems. Perhaps your verbal and written communication skills are top-notch, and you don't mind research or writing reports. Add to these qualities an aptitude for computers and excellent hand-eye coordination, and this job could be for you.
Your chief duties in this job will generally occur in a commercial materials testing lab. Your work may include testing and analyzing various ores for metal content to determine the level of impurities or strength. You’ll write reports for your supervisors, based on the data you’ve accumulated and organized. The tools you use in sample testing may include specific chemicals and gadgets to uncover the underlying elements in the ore, such as its hardness and elasticity. Taking photos of samples and using special microscopes may be incorporated in your analyses. You might also clean, polish and mount samples for presentation. You could perform these duties for the mining industry and others.
Some of the other tasks you might undertake in this job may involve the use of dispersive X-rays and radiography to determine the content of ores. Part of your job may be to maintain equipment and keep it clean and functioning properly. Research and development could be two areas in which your time is spent, with the intention of discovering new ways to test ores or create useful alloys, such as steel. Your job might entail working in a production facility with huge equipment used to separate pure metals from ore, or you might work with individual samples retrieved from a field site.
What You'll Need
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t provide information specific to metallurgical technicians; however, for the jobs listed in the BLS’s Mining and Geological Engineers category, it's necessary to complete an accredited engineering program as part of getting your bachelor’s degree in geological science. Your studies should incorporate learning the potential hazards and safety issues found in a laboratory setting. You can gain further information and knowledge by joining a professional organization, such as The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society.
Women's Job Prospects
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau, metallurgical engineering is one of the professions reporting a higher percentage of female engineers than those for other similar engineering jobs between 2000 and 2010. What this can mean for you is that with the relevant education and a bit of hands-on experience, you'll be in an optimum position to compete with your male counterparts for some excellent employment opportunities in the field.
Michelle Reynolds has been writing about business, careers and art since 1993. She was the publisher of a newsletter, “Working Parents Monthly," as well as a graphic design guidebook. Reynolds also served as human-resources director at a resort/spa for eight years. She is an artist and promotes the arts and other artists through ElegantArtisan.com, a website she developed and maintains.