Paper technologist
Laboratory & Medical Technical

Paper technologists manage, design and test the equipment and processes that are used to convert raw materials into paper, tissue and cardboard. Technologists also monitor and evaluate quality control results on materials, as well as chemicals, additives and other factors that affect the manufacturing process, to ensure they meet client specifications.

Work Activities

Paper technologists' typical work activities:

  • Managing the manufacturing cycle
  • Coordinating trials of new products
  • Carrying out research and development
  • Overseeing quality control
  • Resolving technical problems
  • Converting and coating materials
  • Keeping abreast with new developments
  • Supplying the chemicals for the various processes
  • Designing, manufacturing and operating paper machines
  • Looking into how different factors affect the manufacturing process
  • Analysing results from laboratory and trial production tests and writing technical reports
  • Checking finished products to ensure they comply with industry regulations and customer specifications

Paper technologists typically work around 40 hours per week, which may include night and weekend shifts. Those who are based in a paper mill, which is essentially a paper-making factory, as many of them are, split their time between the mill's lab, production areas and office.

Particular areas of a paper mill, such as production, tend to be hot, humid and noisy. Owing to the nature of this environment, specifically the lab and factory floor, it is mandatory that paper technologists wear protective clothing.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills and attributes for paper technologists

  • IT skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Project management
  • Proficient in science, technology and maths
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Analytical skills and the ability to interpret data
  • Teamwork and ability to walk with colleagues at all levels.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of paper technologists

Paper technologists are mainly employed by paper mills, but there are also job opportunities in the businesses that supply the chemicals and machinery to the mills, as well as at packaging manufacturers. In addition, some technologists work for academic institutions, in research roles, go self-employed as consultants or start their own manufacturing business.

The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) is also able to shed some light on the types of employer that hire paper technologists. Seventy companies in the UK, which range from large, multinational, multi-site organisations to single-site small- and medium-sized enterprises, are members of the CPI, and together employ thousands of people.

Opportunities for progression

After gaining sufficient experience, some paper technologists explore opportunities for career progression. Some technologists go on to become production managers or specialist researchers, while others may assume responsibility for project management or move from the paper mills to suppliers. There are also examples of employees moving from the supply side into production.

Paper technologists who secure a senior role within a paper mill typically work more traditional hours, from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday. But, as a result of the problems that may crop up during production, managers will likely be on call to inspect and resolve any out-of-hours complications.

Qualifications

Qualifications and training

To work as a paper technologist you will normally need a first degree in chemistry or engineering, or a higher national diploma in applied science or a similar subject.

Two or three A levels, including a science subject, as well as a minimum of five GCSEs, including English and maths, are also usually required. In Scotland 4-5 Highers including Maths and Physics or Engineering Science plus a good mix of National 5 subjects including English are required for degree entry for Engineering ( Chemistry for a Chemistry or Applied Chemistry degree) . It may be possible to enter via a Modern Apprenticeship or HNC/HND in an applied science. Check each course requirements carefully.

An advanced apprenticeship is another route into the profession.

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