A career as a colour technologist would suit you if you have good scientific knowledge, an enquiring mind and enjoy working with technology
As a colour technologist, you're involved with the science and technology of colour application and its subsequent performance.
Work can be found in various sectors of the manufacturing industry, where you can produce dyes and pigments for a whole range of products including:
You may take on an analytical role, making sure reproduction is accurate, application is even and the colour has durability. In the retail sector, it's likely you'll liaise with suppliers and end users.
Job titles can vary so look out for vacancies for dyeing technologists or colour scientists too.
Your work will vary depending on your exact role and the industry you're in but you'll typically need to:
Salaries are moderately competitive for the chemical industry as a whole. Larger chemical companies tend to pay higher salaries than smaller, specialist employers, but the latter may offer earlier responsibility and opportunities to remain in your preferred technical area. Salaries in the retail and academic sector are slightly higher than in technical roles.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Your working hours will typically be 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, this may vary with the sector, and deadlines or special projects will require longer hours, sometimes at short notice. Shifts, including weekend work, are common in manufacturing to monitor production.
Part-time work is possible, as are career breaks, but you would need to keep your technical knowledge and skills up to date while off work. Once you have significant experience you could consider freelance work as a consultant.
Relevant degree and HND subjects include physical, mathematical and applied science and engineering. However, if you're planning to work in the textile sector it's also possible to enter via a design-orientated route.
The following subjects in particular, may be useful:
Entry without a degree or HND is possible. Starting as a technical assistant, you may be able to progress to more advanced work after appropriate experience and further vocational qualifications, which some employers will sponsor.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification isn't essential. However, a Masters in a relevant area can be helpful if your first degree is in an unrelated subject. Specialist Masters degrees are available in subjects such as polymers, colorants and fine chemicals. A PhD is often required for research positions.
You will need to show:
It's a good idea to try to get vacation or other work experience in the colour or textile industry. In order to keep up to date with industry news, you may want to consider getting student membership with The Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC). This provides access to the online members' forum and knowledge vault.
Competition is moderate for those with a good relevant degree and some work experience, as there are comparatively few specialised graduates.
Colour is used in virtually all products, so the range of employers is broad and you can find work in a number of sectors:
The industry in general is growing and technical expertise is in demand, although computerisation is replacing some colour technologist roles.
Look for job vacancies at:
Recruitment agencies don't commonly handle vacancies, but those that do advertise in Chemistry World and New Scientist.
Technical training is mainly on the job, supported by either internal or external short courses provided by professional bodies or equipment suppliers. Larger companies may start you on a formal training scheme, which consists of short placements to develop your technical and commercial knowledge.
The SDC offers a range of professional coloration qualifications at various levels including:
The SDC can award the status of Chartered Colourist (CCol) which is the highest grade and indicates outstanding practical experience and expertise. At this level, you're required to undertake at least 30 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) each year. CPD activities can include:
The SDC has a CPD scheme and offers various training courses which are run by experts. Find out more about qualifications and training at Society of Dyers and Colourists - Education.
You will need to keep up to date with research techniques and new technical developments throughout your career, so many employers support activities that promote this.
After working in hands-on functions to build your technical knowledge, you'll typically take on additional responsibility and will manage the work of other technologists, eventually becoming a senior technologist or supervisor. You can usually reach departmental management positions after ten to 15 years.
Alternatively, if you want the option of focusing on a specific area of interest, you could become a consultant or form your own specialist company. This may result in higher salaries but you'll need significant technical and management experience to be able to do this.
You may also move into production, quality control, marketing, technical sales, or research and development, although the latter may require an additional research degree.
If you work for an international company, your career development may depend on you being prepared to take on overseas projects or secondments. If you're in a small company, you may need to move employers in order to progress.
Most employers support the assessment process towards chartered colourist (CCol) status with SDC. This is useful, though not essential, for more senior posts. Senior members who have substantial relevant experience and who have achieved a high standing in the industry can be awarded fellowship by the SDC.