How to become a Metallurgist

Metallurgists research, control and develop processes that are used in extracting minerals from ore (rock) for refining metals.

Personal requirements of a Metallurgist

  • Enjoy technical and engineering work
  • Willing to adhere to safety requirements
  • Able to identify, analyse and solve problems
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Practical and creative
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Able to accept responsibility

Education & Training for a Metallurgist

To become a metallurgist you usually have to complete a degree in metallurgical or chemical engineering, or science with a major in metallurgy. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry and physics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Metallurgist

Metallurgists may perform the following tasks:

  • apply physical and chemical methods to separate valuable minerals from their ores
  • design processes to separate valuable minerals from ores and to reduce minerals to metals and alloys
  • design and operate plants to produce concentrated mineral products and metals
  • supervise sampling from various stages of processing for laboratory analysis and testing
  • modify and develop processes to improve recovery and quality as well as to reduce waste and costs
  • develop and operate processes to meet environmental requirements
  • supervise a team of metallurgists, technicians and other workers
  • advise operators on production methods and quality control systems
  • communicate with other professionals (such as geologists, mining engineers, chemists, administrators and managers) to improve efficiencies
  • control expenditure and prepare budgets and technical reports.

Working conditions for a Metallurgist

Metallurgists work at mines, mineral processing sites, laboratories, research centres or offices. They usually work with other professionals such as mining or construction engineers, geologists, mineralogists, technicians and tradespeople.

Employment Opportunities for a Metallurgist

Metallurgists are employed in production, research and technical sales in companies that mine and process metals, as well as in related research organisations such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). They are also employed by government departments. Some metallurgists find employment in educational institutions, as well as in marketing and technical sales for companies dealing in metal products and coated products. After several years of experience, metallurgists may move into middle or senior-level management positions. Others form their own companies that provide advice to companies and firms involved in metal production. Demand for metallurgists is dependent on the level of activity in the mining, metals and materials manufacturing industries.

Additional Information
Graduates of accredited courses may be eligible to join the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM), Engineers Australia or Materials Australia. Visit their websites for more details.
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