Laboratory & Medical Technical
Working under the supervision or direction of a senior colleague, textile technicians, by and large, support the design, production and quality control of textile products. These core responsibilities are expanded upon or adapted in line with particular industries or employers. For instance, if lab-based, textile (laboratory) technicians will carry out experiments and tests; while, if educational institution-based, technicians will support, say, the teaching of fashion and textiles by preparing and setting up equipment and materials for practical classes.
A textile technician's typical work activities will vary, to some extent, based on which type of employer he or she opts to work for. But general duties will usually include the following:
- Providing a high standard of technical support
- Ordering and unpacking materials and apparatus
- Working with bespoke textile IT operating systems
- Setting up machines for different production runs
- Ensuring textiles meet quality standards
- Working to production targets
- General mechanical and electrical maintenance
- Carrying out stock checks and purchasing items
- Advising on correct storage and the use of chemicals and hazardous substances
- Liaising with the relevant department regarding orders, finances and suppliers
- Ensuring the general tidiness of rooms
- Attending meetings
Textile technicians typically work full time (on average 37.5 hours per week), Monday to Friday. However, these hours will not necessarily be standard across all employers. For example, some businesses run rotating shifts, while others, such as educational institutions, offer term-time contracts only. In addition, part-time jobs and flexible working are available.
Technicians are usually based in a workshop, lab (applies to textile laboratory technicians) or on the factory floor, but this largely depends on the employer's set-up.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills and attributes for textile technicians
- Working knowledge of textiles
- IT proficient
- Problem-solving skills
- Numerical skills
- Interpersonal and communication skills
- Ability to work as a team and on own initiative
- Ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
- Have good sewing machine experience*
- Photography knowledge*
- Screen printing knowledge*
- Knowledge and experience of Adobe software*
*The key skills and attributes with an asterisk are sought by some employers; these are not necessarily required across the board. Additionally, there may be other employer-specific prerequisites that aren't included in this list.
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of textile technicians
Textile technicians can work for businesses that design, manufacture, produce and supply a range of textiles for a number of industries. Other employers of these professionals include educational institutions such as colleges and universities, wherein technicians will be based in specific departments, such as design and technology or fashion.
Opportunities for progression
With experience textile technicians will have the opportunity to take on more responsibility, which may include providing training to apprentices and new members of staff or supervising production operations. Alternatively, technicians might consider further study, such as a degree, and work towards becoming technologists, which will lead to higher positions in the workplace.
With appropriate training and qualifications, textile technicians can also become development technicians, who work in a leading role as part of a technical team, which comprises a laboratory manager, to develop new technical textile products and refine the specifications of existing products to meet the needs of customers.
Qualifications and training
To work as a textile technician you will need to be qualified to GCSE level, or equivalent. A foundation degree or higher national diploma in a relevant subject, such as fashion and textiles or physics, isn't always required but will likely put you at an advantage.
In Scotland NC programmes require 2-4 National 5s (often including English, Maths, Art). HNC/HND Textile courses ask 1-2 Highers and can lead to degrees in Textile Technology asking 4 Highers (A-C) with Maths, Physics and Art an advantage. English Higher may be required.
Apprenticeships and employment-based training programmes are other routes into this area of work. Textile technicians often receive training on the job. In Scotland SVQ Level 1-3 may be available in Manufacturing Textile Products or Fashion and Textiles Heritage.