How to Become a Nanotechnologist in the UK

Nanotechnologists engineer functional products or systems at an atomic or molecular scale. These professionals are behind military products such as untraceable weapons of mass destruction, as well as consumer products like thin film batteries and LED’s. This career is ideal for science lovers with a keen interest in technology.

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1. What Do Nanotechnologists Do?

Their duties include:


  • Designing and building new nanotechnology products, and modifying existing ones.
  • Performing experiments to test the safety and performance of nanotechnology products.
  • Performing research relating to the existence of atoms and molecules.
  • Using electron microscopes and other specialized machinery and equipment to manipulate atoms and molecules.
  • Writing research reports and publishing findings in science and technology journals.
  • Finding ways to avert emergencies that involve spillage or leakages of harmful gases and chemicals.
  • Ensuring safety in nanotechnology labs.

Nanotechnologists can choose to specialize in a field such as biomedicine, electronics, energy production or aerospace and automotive manufacturing.

2. Work Environment

Many nanotechnologists work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Those who are hired by factories may work on a shift basis.

While at work, nanotechnologists typically spend their time in a laboratory setting, where they interact with computers and other specialized equipment. To prevent occupational injuries, they wear safety glasses, lab coats and other pieces of protective clothing or equipment.

The job may involve international travel since you may team up with nanotechnologists from other countries to work on a project.

3. Salary

According to the National Careers Service, nanotechnologists earn between £13,000 and £60,000 annually. The least paid are trainees with doctorate degrees while the highest paid are experienced nanotechnologists, often working as professors or senior researchers.

4. Entry Requirements

The journey to becoming a nanotechnologist begins at undergraduate level, where you should earn a bachelor’s degree in nanoscience or another scientific or engineering field with coursework in nanotechnology. These programs provide training in areas such as, nanobiotechnology concepts, nanostructure engineering and nanoscale mechnanics of materials.

Some of the institutions offering relevant degrees include:

  • Herriot-Watt University – Edinburgh
  • Nottingham University – Nottingham.

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, materials science or computer science can also give you a decent foundation to pursue a career in nanotechnology.

After earning your bachelor’s, you must follow it up with a master’s degree in nanotechnology in order to qualify for entry-level jobs in this field.

For more information on institutions offering nanotechnology undergraduate and graduate programs, visit Nanowerk.

5. Important Qualities

To be an accomplished nanotechnologist, you need:

  • Excellent technical skills
  • Excellent computer skills
  • Excellent research and analytical skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • A keen interest in science and technology
  • Good teamwork skills
  • A keen attention to small details
  • Laboratory skills
  • Math skills
  • Communication and report-writing skills

6. Career Progression

As a beginning nanotechnologist, you will receive on-the-job training from your employer, particularly to enhance your technical skills and occupational health and safety awareness.

To heighten your career progression prospects:

7. Job Opportunities

The employers of nanotechnologists include:

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  • Energy providers
  • Electronics manufacturing companies
  • Biotechnology firms
  • Agricultural companies
  • Private research facilities

With vast nanotechnology experience, you can advance and become a senior or lead technologist. With a PhD in the field, you can move into academia and become a lecturer.

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Finally, Nanotechnology is a rapidly growing field in research and development. In general, the National Careers Service notes there will be about 150,000 new jobs for science and engineering professionals within the next five years.

So if you love science, and you’re interest in making discoveries, then this could be a great career for you.