Technician

Skilled technicians are highly valued by employers, so it's no surprise that the job opportunities are wide and varied

Technicians are the unsung heroes of the construction industry, applying proven techniques to solve practical problems. They carry responsibility for their own work and often for the work of others. In many areas of the industry where routine inspections and checks are carried out - on highways, railways and flood defences, for example - they are on the front line and expected to spot potential problems and pass on warnings before situations become critical.



Technicians must have an underlying technical knowledge to carry out their work. That is often, but not always, obtained by undertaking a course at a local further-education college. That course could be a full-time, two-year National or Higher National Diploma; a part-time, two-year National or Higher National Certificate day-release course sponsored by an employer; a two-year foundation degree also sponsored by an employer; or one of the new diplomas in construction and the built environment, or engineering, each of which will contain a period of industrial-based experience. These courses differ from degrees in that they contain more practical teaching. Generally, these courses are better suited to students that have good practical skills, or find extensive book learning frustrating.

A lot of employers are keen to recruit potential technicians and will attend school or college career fairs and other exhibitions to try to meet such people. Many are also happy to provide one- or two-week work experience placements for school pupils and college students. These companies will usually keep in touch with anyone who expresses interest in the work and the organisation. Students can also contact an organisation's human resource or training department, but any written communication needs to be clearly laid out and specific to the organisation being approached: this method can often produce a positive reaction, such as an invitation to an interview.

Technicians also need to get experience in the workplace, which is best gained by following a structured development scheme, operated by an employer, which leads towards a competence or skill qualification. That can be an industry-specific qualification of the sort available in the rail or nuclear sectors, or a more transferable qualification awarded by a professional institution. Many employers combine the teaching of theory with a development scheme by offering a Scottish or NVQ, usually at level 3; these can be obtained to support a variety of skills.

Most technicians gain experience and improve their skills over time to become very good senior technicians. If technicians wish to become more technically proficient or wish to progress into management, those qualified with National Diplomas or Certificates can further their education by pursuing other academic courses, such as a Higher National Diploma or Certificate, foundation degree or undergraduate degree. Many also learn on the job by attending short courses, which are often specialised.

Continuing professional development is an essential part of a technician's career. As their career pathway develops there are opportunities to develop and deepen their knowledge and skills through lifelong and work-based learning, as well as approved work-based learning routes that can lead to professional qualifications. The need to be continually learning about new ideas and techniques is essential in today's ever-changing industry.

The technician route is a good one for young people leaving school or college who do not find the idea of further study at university attractive. Training to become a technician could prove to be a more attractive option, particularly as it can offer early entry to the workplace and the option to do further training on the job to degree level and beyond.



Joyce Chia is the senior marketing executive at the Institution of Civil Engineers, www.ice.org.uk

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Trainee Sales Executive

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Trainee Sales Executive is re...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer - Peterborough - £18,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Cambridgeshire - £23,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Front-End Develo...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower