Textile technicians make sure the machines and equipment that are used to produce textiles in factories are operating correctly, minimising interruption in production and ensuring operatives can work safely. Some textile technicians work in the production process, e.g. as a weaver or spinner, as well as undertaking routine maintenance of machines.
A textile technician would typically be involved in:
Other technicians who specialise in mechanical or electrical engineering can be involved in some maintenance and testing of machines on the factory floor, as well as identifying potential issues and fixing faults when they arise. They may specialise in maintaining the machinery and equipment for one aspect of the textile production process, such as:
Technological advancement in textile production means that technicians may need detailed electrical and mechanical knowledge.
Textile technicians normally work between 37 and 40 hours a week. This may be in shifts covering nights, weekends and bank holidays. Overtime may be available.
Textile technicians usually carry out repairs and machinery tests on the factory floor. Occasionally repairs are done in a separate workshop. Most textile factories are light and spacious, but they can sometimes be hot, humid and noisy. Many are equipped with air conditioning and extractors are used to remove dust.
The work often involves bending, kneeling and climbing to access machinery, sometimes in hard-to-reach areas. Technicians are likely to use a selection of hand and power tools and electrical testing devices.
For personal safety, employers provide protective clothing, including overalls, safety footwear, gloves, ear defenders, masks and safety belts.
Textile technicians may have to travel to machinery suppliers in the UK and overseas for maintenance training.
A trainee textile technician may start on around £18,000 a year. Technicians with relevant engineering qualifications may earn around £21,000. A senior technician with technical and industry experience may earn between £25,000 and £30,000 a year.
There may be additional overtime and on-call payments.
Job opportunities for this specialised role tend to be concentrated in specific regions, including the East Midlands, the north-west, Yorkshire and Scotland.
There is a general shortage of skilled applicants and qualified textile technicians.
Jobs are usually advertised on jobsites, in newspapers, and in Jobcentre Plus offices. Some employers publish vacancies on their websites or recruit staff through specialist recruitment agencies.
Generally, there are no set academic qualifications to become a textile technician. However, those working with highly automated systems may need to have degree-level knowledge of electrical engineering.
The Diploma in manufacturing and product design may be relevant for this area of work.
Many textile technicians start as apprentices in manufacturing engineering specialising in textiles. Candidates usually need four GCSE's (A*-C), or equivalent qualifications. Subjects such as English, maths, science and technology may be particularly useful.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
For many textile technicians, training takes places on the job, supported by relevant NVQ's and other qualifications, such as:
- Level 2 or 3 NVQ in manufacturing textiles
- Level 2 or 3 NVQ in mechanical manufacturing engineering
- Level 3 Certificate in apparel manufacturing technology
- Level 2 NVQ in performing engineering operations
Employees may also work towards recognised occupational health and safety qualifications.
The Textile Institute offers internationally recognised professional qualifications at Licentiateship, Associateship and Fellowship levels.
With suitable experience and qualifications, textile technicians can register with the Engineering Council as an engineering technician (EngTech).
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
Textile technicians need:
Experienced textile technicians can move into management, supervising other technicians, or specialise in areas such as quality control, technical training or research.
It is also possible to work on a contract or self-employed basis, providing repair and maintenance services to smaller textile manufacturers.
British Textile Technology Group (BTTG),
Unit 14 Wheel Forge Way,
Trafford Park, Manchester M17 1EH
Tel: 0161 873 6543
Engineering Council UK (ECUK),
246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
North West Texnet,
The i-zone, Deane Road,
Bolton, Lancashire, BL3 5AB
Tel: 01204 374840
Skillset, Focus Point,
21 Caledonian Road,
London, N1 9GB
Tel: 020 7713 9800
Textile Centre for Excellence, Textile House,
Red Doles Lane, Huddersfield HD2 1YF
Tel: 01484 346500
The Textile Institute,
1st Floor, St James' Buildings,
Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6FQ
Tel: 0161 237 1188
Website: Website: www.texi.org
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.