There are different areas to specialise in as a metallurgist, from traditional manufacturing to cutting edge technologies
Metallurgists are concerned with the extraction and processing of various metals and alloys. You will investigate and examine the performance of metals such as iron, steel, aluminium, nickel and copper and use them to produce a range of useful products and materials with certain properties.
Work may be in:
You may be at the forefront of new technologies, developing metals for new applications, or involved in the traditional manufacture of anything from razor blades to washing machines.
You'll often work in multidisciplinary teams of engineers, scientists and business professionals.
You may specialise as a:
Specific work activities depend on the area you specialise in and may involve the following:
In chemical metallurgy:
In physical metallurgy:
In process metallurgy:
Other tasks which may be carried out across the specialist areas typically include:
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Typical working hours are 37 to 40 per week. In some roles this will be carried out Monday to Friday but in manufacturing environments, you may be required to work shifts through a 24-hour system. Extra hours may be required at busy times.
Relevant degree subjects which will help you to secure a position as a metallurgist include:
It's useful if your first degree is accredited by a relevant professional body, such as the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3), as it can help you to achieve the status of chartered engineer (CEng) at a later date. Details of accredited courses are available at Engineering Council - Accredited Course Search.
Some employers may accept you with a HND/foundation degree, but entry will usually be at a lower level as a technician. It's also likely that gaining professional status will take longer. Relevant HND/foundation degree subjects include:
You may be required to have a related Masters or PhD for certain posts, such as research positions. It can also aid professional training if your qualification is accredited and can open up more opportunities for career development. Search for postgraduate courses in metallurgy.
In addition to technical competence, employers look for a range of skills and personal qualities. You will need to show:
Posts related to the defence industry are often open only to British nationals and security clearance may be required.
Knowledge of a foreign language is advantageous, especially in multinational organisations.
Relevant pre-entry experience, such as hands-on knowledge of practical techniques, is desirable. Employers may be more interested if you have an understanding of what metallurgy actually involves along with some practical experience.
Get actively involved with specialist groups of relevant professional institutions such as the:
Most professional organisations run regular conferences and events and offer training and membership benefits for students. Joining them will offer you a direct insight into professional standards and provide you with the opportunity to network.
There are a range of organisations involved in the production or processing of metals that recruit metallurgists. They include:
Iron and steel production is concentrated in a few principal producing sites in the UK and the rest of the world. This is because it requires a huge amount of capital and infrastructure, such as rail transportation, to produce and distribute it.
Manufacturers of goods using steel, and those using non-ferrous metal products are located throughout the UK and overseas. Non-ferrous ores are mined and processed throughout the world.
Look for job vacancies at:
The majority of training is provided in-house by employers and some may offer graduate training schemes.
A mentoring system is also usually available to allow you to access the advice and professional support of more senior engineers who will regularly review your progress against agreed objectives and specific training plans.
Continuing professional development (CPD) is encouraged and you need to keep up to date with technological advances and developments in your field. This may involve attending conferences and events and becoming a member of a professional body.
Professional graduate membership is available if you have a degree in a related subject and two years' relevant work experience after graduation, with the IOM3.
It is also possible to work towards gaining professional status at either incorporated engineer (IEng) or chartered engineer (CEng) level. Both qualifications are awarded by the Engineering Council and you'll need to be a member of a relevant body such as the IOM3 or ICorr.
The process of gaining professional status is more straightforward if you have accredited qualifications. Find out more at Engineering Council Professional Registration.
Equipment suppliers often deliver training on specialised equipment. This may take the form of:
If you remain in industry and want to stay in the technical side, you may progress to senior management positions where a high level of technical competence is expected.
It's also possible to specialise in a particular area of metallurgy, such as stainless steel, non-ferrous alloys or precious metals, or in a particular industrial sector, such as:
If you want to move into a different role and have a good technical background with excellent communication, numerical and analytical ability, you could work in production management. Opportunities also exist in non-technical fields, such as:
You'll often work in multidisciplinary teams alongside other materials scientists in ceramics, glass and polymers. Opportunities may therefore also exist with employers in these areas.
Moving into research roles is also a possibility and opportunities exist in private sector industrial firms, academic laboratories, contract research laboratories and government laboratories, such as the:
With substantial experience, it is possible to find work as an independent consultant, contracting your services to larger organisations.