Analytical Textile Technologist

The Job and What's Involved

Analytical textile technologists use their knowledge of the technical properties of textile materials and their understanding of production techniques to:

  • Solve technical queries about the manufacturing process
    assess quality.
  • Carry out investigations such as fitness for purpose and fault-finding.
  • Help solve disputes, for example finding out if a product fault is due to the manufacturer or to customer misuse.
  • Make sure that labels are correct, for example finding out if a garment that claims to be made from cashmere really is.

As an analytical textile technologist, you could work in-house for a textile manufacturer, or as a consultant to a number of different clients, including manufacturers, legal institutions, retailers and consumers. Your tasks would typically include:

  • Liaising with customers, staff and suppliers.
  • Analysing samples and carrying out rigorous testing.
  • Using analytical techniques and instruments, such as microscopes and infrared.
  • Assessing technical performance specifications.
  • Developing new analytical techniques.
  • Interpreting and reporting data.
  • Writing technical reports and cost estimates.
  • Being aware of health and safety issues.

You would need to keep up to date with new design and production techniques, and advances in science.

Your working week will usually be around 37 hours, but can be longer if you are self-employed, depending on the amount of work you have and the deadlines you need to meet.

Most of your work will take place in a laboratory.

Starting salaries can be around £15,000 a year. With experience this can rise to between £25,000 and around £35,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The technical textiles sector covers the following types of textiles:

Agricultural
Automotive
Aerospace
Clothing
Construction
Defence
Medical

Some of the world's leading technical textiles companies are based in the UK, producing, for example, clothing for NASA technicians and airbags for the major car manufacturers.

Education and Training

Most employers will prefer you to have a degree in textiles technology. Suitable courses include the following, which are offered at the University of Manchester:

BSc (Hons) Textile Technology (Business Management).

BSc (Hons) Textile Science and Technology.

You may also find a degree in a scientific or engineering subject useful.

You will have an advantage if you follow your degree with a postgraduate qualification in textiles technology, particularly if you have a non-textiles first degree.

Suitable postgraduate courses include:

MSc in Textile Technology University of Manchester.

MSc in Advanced Textile and Performance Clothing University of Leeds.

MSc in Textile Engineering University of Bolton.

Alternatively, you can complete training and postgraduate research in textiles at other universities, such as Heriot-Watt University and the University of Huddersfield.

  • University of Manchester
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Bolton
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • University of Huddersfield

You may be able to start in the industry as a technician, but you will need a degree or professional qualification to progress your career. A foundation degree will give you the opportunity for developing your career whilst working.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

On-the-job learning is a crucial part of developing your technical knowledge and skills. Once you are working as an analytical textile technologist you will develop your existing skills and learn many new ones.

You could add to your on-the-job learning in a variety of ways, including:

  • Courses in specialised areas, for example microscopy, which is offered by the Royal Microscopical Society.
  • Training in more general skills, such as management, leadership, presentation skills, languages and IT skills.
  • Qualifications offered by the Textile Institute (TI), including its Fellowship, Associateship and Licentiateship.
  • Courses such as those offered by the Textile Centre of Excellence in Huddersfield.

Visit the TI and Textile Centre of Excellence websites for details of their courses.

You can also keep up to date with the latest developments and challenges faced by the textiles sector by reading the academic journals published by the TI, and attending TI events that bring together professionals, practitioners and academics working in the global textiles industry.

You could also join local societies, including the Bradford Textile Society and Huddersfield Textile Society.

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You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An analytical textile technologist needs:

  • An interest in physics and a general aptitude for science.
  • A detailed understanding of textile structures and technical textiles.
  • A general understanding of all stages of textile production and processing.
  • An inquisitive but disciplined mind.
  • Time management skills and the ability to work to tight deadlines.
  • Good concentration levels.
  • Laboratory skills.
  • The ability to produce accurate records and written reports.
  • Team leading ability.

Your Long Term Prospects

You may have the opportunity to carry out research in association with universities that have a textiles specialism.

Progression can be more limited within smaller organisations. Relocating or moving employers may be necessary to progress further.

Get Further Information

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