Laboratory & Medical Technical
Glass technologists are involved in the research, development, production and quality control of glass. A major part of their work is to test materials, to ensure quality and performance. A test might see the technologist use a range of equipment, such as microscopes and x-ray machines, to evaluate the chemical composition of the materials and how they react to, say, high temperatures and prolonged sunlight. Technologists also devise new tests and processes. Some glass technologists are involved in developing new materials or new uses for existing materials.
Entry level glass technologists report to an experienced technologist, while experienced glass technologists are typically supported by technicians. Technologists usually work in research and development, production management and quality control. Technical sales and marketing of glass products are other sectors in which glass technologists secure employment.
Glass technologists are also known as materials technologists.
Glass technologists' typical work activities include:
- Assessing glass products
- Attending and contributing to meetings
- Leading on research projects: researching and developing new methodologies, processes and materials
- Identifying defects
- Documenting findings in reports and on computer systems
- Analysing reports and determining resultant actions
- Keeping abreast with advancements and shifts in technology and the industry.
Glass technologists typically work between 37.5 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. But some employers may require employees to work outside of these hours or to do shift work; it will largely depend on the sector in which the technologist works. Some flexible working arrangements, part-time contracts and temp work are available.
Glass technologists tend to be based in a lab or on the production floor. Some roles within this field, such as those that involve selling materials, require travel.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills and attributes for glass technologists
- Team work
- Organisational skills
- Proficient in maths and IT
- Aptitude for science
- Problem solving
- Analytical skills
- Manual dexterity
- Attention to detail and accuracy
- Strong written and verbal communication
- Ability to produce technical reports
- Management and leadership skills, depending on level.
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of glass technologists
Job vacancies for glass technologists can typically be found at glass manufacturers and processors in towns and cities across the UK, although Staffordshire, Yorkshire and the Humber, and north-west England have been said to have the largest number of employees. Roles can also be found in other industries, such as electronics, telecommunications, renewable energy, and automotive and transport.
Opportunities for progression
Glass technologists usually move up to positions with greater responsibility and more supervisory duties, which tend to lead to managerial roles. Self-employment, usually as a consultant, which involves providing clients with knowledge and technical input to improve processes and products, is also a viable route.
Qualifications and training
You will usually need a degree to enter this area of work; materials science or technology are good subject choices, but there are many other related options to choose from, such as physics or chemistry. Lower degrees such as foundation degrees and higher national diplomas are also a route in.
To get onto a relevant degree programme or higher national diploma, you will usually require two or three A levels, or equivalent, such as a BTEC level 3, and a handful of good GCSEs, including English and maths. Qualifications in relevant subjects, such as maths, chemistry, science, and design and technology, may strengthen your application. In Scotland entry to a relevant degree will be 4-5 Highers (A-C) with Science and Maths plus a good range of National 5s including English.
An intermediate or advanced level apprenticeship, or working as a materials technician or glassmaker, can lead to roles within this sector.