Metallurgists work with metals and alloys in the development and manufacturing of metal items and structures that range from tiny precision-made components to huge engineering parts.
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:
- design and manufacture;
- production management;
- quality assurance;
- research and development.
Metallurgists usually specialize in one of three areas:
- Chemical metallurgists focus on the extraction of metals. They conduct tests on ores and figure out the best method of extraction. They also test metals for signs of corrosion.
- Physical metallurgists study how a metal behaves in different conditions including in a hot environment or when it’s put under stress. They will investigate any signs of weakness.
- Process metallurgists design metal parts. They are responsible for shaping metal parts through methods such as casting, as well as joining metal parts by welding and soldering them.
Employers of metallurgists
- Metal and materials producers
- Manufacturing and process companies
- Research and development organizations
- Specialist consultancies
- Utilities companies
- liaising with clients to determine design requirements
- providing technical advice about the suitability of metals for different purposes
- making recommendations and advising about product feasibility
- undertaking new product research
- creating precise designs for components
- developing prototypes and innovative solutions to problems
- investigating corrosion and metal failure/fatigue
- liaising with and supervising engineering and technical staff
- ensuring adherence to manufacturing quality standards
- overseeing operational quality control processes
- using specialist computer applications
- carrying out laboratory-based analysis of samples
- using both destructive and non-destructive techniques to test composition
- developing new test and repair processes
- investigating production problems
A degree in metallurgy, materials science/technology or a similar engineering subject is normally necessary for entry into the profession. Some employers may accept you with a diploma.
- good communication and presentation skills for reporting to customers and colleagues;
- team working skills with other engineers and scientists;
- business awareness;
- problem-solving ability to deal with manufacturing or technical issues;
- innovation and leadership;
- initiative, drive and enthusiasm for improving metals and methods used;
- numeracy skills;
- attention to detail for interpreting design requirements and producing reports;
- the ability to focus on results.