Textile Technician

The Job and What's Involved

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:

  • Installing and testing new machinery.
  • Advising business and production managers on the production processes and the future efficiency of machines.
  • Training and supervising textile operatives on using the machinery.
  • Day-to-day maintenance, such as cleaning, oiling, greasing and checking performance levels.
  • Troubleshooting equipment to spot and deal with potential issues before they arise.
  • Diagnosing mechanical problems, isolating faulty parts and reporting to the appropriate manager.
  • Ordering replacement parts or, in some cases, making new parts.
  • Reassembling machines, returning each to full working order.
  • Maintaining accurate documentation and records for work completed, usually on computers.

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:

  • Preparing and producing fibres.
  • Spinning and winding yarn on to bobbins.
  • Weaving or knitting to produce fabric, or producing non-woven fabric.
  • Finishing processes, which could include dyeing and printing, or applying protective coatings to fabrics.

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.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

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.

Education and Training

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 further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

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).

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Textile technicians need:

  • Good manual ability.
  • To be good problem solvers.
  • A responsible attitude to health and safety.
  • The ability to work quickly, sometimes under pressure.
  • Electrical and mechanical knowledge.
  • To be able to plan and take a flexible approach to work.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • The ability to work alone without direct supervision.
  • Good physical fitness.
  • Normal colour vision for electrical or electronic work.
  • Basic numeracy skills to take accurate measurements.
  • To be decisive and assertive.
  • Confidence in using computers for diagnostic and report documentation.

Your Long Term Prospects

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.

Get Further Information

British Textile Technology Group (BTTG),
Unit 14 Wheel Forge Way,
Trafford Park, Manchester M17 1EH
Tel: 0161 873 6543
Website: www.bttg.co.uk

Engineering Council UK (ECUK),
246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
Website: www.engc.org.uk

North West Texnet,
The i-zone, Deane Road,
Bolton, Lancashire, BL3 5AB
Tel: 01204 374840
Website: www.nwtexnet.co.uk

Skillset, Focus Point,
21 Caledonian Road,
London, N1 9GB
Tel: 020 7713 9800
Website: www.skillset.org

Textile Centre for Excellence, Textile House,
Red Doles Lane, Huddersfield HD2 1YF
Tel: 01484 346500
Website: www.textilehouse.co.uk

The Textile Institute,
1st Floor, St James' Buildings,
Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6FQ
Tel: 0161 237 1188
Website: Website: www.texi.org

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