Ceramic decorator

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Sarah Jones is a glaze line operative at a business which manufactures over 12,000 square metres of tiles every day. The tiles get glazed, before being patterned and coloured.

What does the job as a ceramic decorator involve?

I have to clean and set up the glaze line for production runs, and throughout the day I carry out checks to make sure quality is being maintained. I also run the Rotocolors, which put coloured ink onto the tile in different patterns, depending on which roller is used. Each roller has a different print cut into it by a laser system.

Do you have a typical day?

It depends on what products we are running, as well as how many lines I'm looking after. Sometimes we might run the same product for two or three days, at other times we might run a few products in one day.

What equipment do you use to do this?

I use scales, a viscosity measurer and a density cup to measure the thickness of the liquid glaze. I also use a stopwatch and a water hose for cleaning.

What was your route to becoming a ceramic decorator?

Originally, I was interested in working with horses but decided I wanted a more creative career. I didn't set out to work in ceramics, but I knew I didn't want a job where I had to sit behind a desk all day. I started here on temporary contract and was then offered a permanent job.

What about training?

I have had on-the-job training. When I was moved to the glaze line, I received all the training I needed from other people on the line and the manager.

Do you have to work shifts?

I work 12 hour shifts, both days and nights, but that includes meal and rest breaks as well.

What do you like best about this job?

I like the people here. I also find the work challenging and varied.

What kind of person suits this work?

It's important to be able to communicate well, be numerate and to have initiative. I also think a good sense of humour helps, particularly on a long night shift!

Sarah's route to her job as a ceramic decorator

  • GCSEs.
  • NVQ Level 2 in Horse Studies.
  • Career change to ceramic decorator.
  • On-the-job company training.

Sarah's ceramic decorator tip

  • This is a busy environment, but as long as you are willing and enthusiastic you will be fine.

Ceramic decorator related jobs

  • Engraver
  • Glassblower
  • Glassmaker
  • Kiln controller
  • Textile technician

Salary of a ceramic decorator

  • An apprentice ceramic decorate can expect to start on around £10,000 a year.
  • Someone in a team leader's role, or working in a specialist department, can earn £20,000.

How to become a ceramic decorator

  • Most ceramic decorators learn their skills on the job.
  • Although academic qualifications are not always mandatory, a flair for art and design can help.
  • Some employers operate Apprenticeship schemes leading to NVQs/SVQs in Manufacturing Ceramic Products at Levels 1, 2 and 3.
  • There are numerous higher-education courses which offer training in the techniques of ceramic decoration and manufacturing such as BTEC HNCs/HNDs, foundation degrees and degrees in subjects such as ceramics, ceramic design, three-dimensional (3-D) and surface pattern design.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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