What they do
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.
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.
Tools and technologies
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.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a materials technician you usually need to gain a qualification in engineering - technical, engineering, laboratory techniques or laboratory technology.
Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques, the Diploma of Laboratory Technology, the Diploma of Engineering – Technical and the Advanced Diploma of Engineering are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.
You can also undertake a traineeship in laboratory techniques (level 4), laboratory technology (level 5), metallurgical technician (level 5), metallurgical technician (advanced) (level 6), manufacturing technician – metallurgy, manufacturing technologist – metallurgy, polymer technology (level 4) and engineering assistant. The traineeships usually take 12 to 36 months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing
To work as a materials technician in Western Australia you will need to obtain certification from the Australian Institute for Non-destructive Testing if you wish to undertake non-destructive testing.
To operate radiation equipment such as gamma rays and X-rays in Western Australia, you will need to obtain a licence from the Radiological Council or work under the direction and supervision of a licensee.