Micro and nanotechnologies are growing in importance so much that they are being labeled as the next industrial revolution.1 Therefore, manufacturing companies are looking for skilled technicians to operate specialized equipment and carry out the processes unique for the manufacture of their product. Employers engaged in research or laboratory work will have their share of sophisticated equipment and specialized methods too.
Because of this demand for skilled technicians, there are plenty of online resources for interested students about 2-year “nano” associates degrees or certificate programs. I have posted several of these on this webpage.
Education Programs and Resources
Micro and nanotechnology technicians obtain specialized skill sets through their education, which are vital to the industry. Teaching these skills is not incorporated into the curricula of many 4-year engineering programs. Still, industry needs technicians, and educators need the right materials to train them.
There are several advanced technological education (ATE) centers that provide these, for both students and educators. There are more resources available online to assist students and educators in 2-year micro and nanotechnology programs then available for 4 year degree programs, which are still limited in number.
The Nanotechnology Application and Career Knowledge (NACK) Network maintains a list of ATE centers specializing in micro and nanotechnology technician education and of several community colleges that offer 2 year programs here.
The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) also maintains a list of community colleges offering such programs here.
For interested students the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) and its principle investigator, each maintain a YouTube channel about understanding the principles behind microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and here and here.
The NACK network hosts a several webinars regarding a variety of topics including the nanotechnology industry, workforce training, and professional development here.
Employment of Micro and Nanotechnology Technicians
From what I am told, community college micro or nanotechnology technician classes are often small (only around 20 or 30 students maximum). When small enough, job placement can be easier. However, I would be surprised if every newly trained technician did not need to do some job searching. Regarding the type of work a nanotechnology technician may expect and job titles they would hold, SHINE (Seattle’s Hub for Industry Driven Nano-Education) has a good synopsis here.
The SCME maintains a list of online articles and links to job posting boards here.
I also have written about the types of industries that work in micro and nanotechnologies here
Recruter.com estimates the average annual salary of nanotechnology technicians to be $57,500, varying between $45,000 to over $72,000 depending on the place of employment.2 Even though the employment trend has been negative from 2004 to 2010, employment outlook is expected to add 14,040 new jobs by 2018.3 Recruter.com has more information about salary by location and expected growth here.
Professionals who hire technicians have told me they serve a critical role to their employers. I once heard from a high-level manager at an aerospace company tell that without the technicians, his department would not operate.
Experienced technicians can do very well for themselves and may have ample opportunities for career growth. Many technicians return to school to obtain a 4-year engineering degree, which there are well prepared for.