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Updated / Emerging Occupations

Nanotechnologist

In general, nanotechnologists operate specialized technical equipment to analyze, manipulate, and fabricate nanoscale objects.

This is an emerging occupation. It may have evolved from an existing occupation or emerged in response to consumer needs or technological advances.

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Nanotechnologists study and manipulate particles at the nanoscale. Particles at the nanoscale range from 1 to 100 nanometres (nm) in size. A nanometre is 1 billionth of a metre, or 0.000000001 m. Nanomaterials such as atoms, molecules, and proteins display properties that are not visible at the macroscopic scale (the naked eye).

The properties of particles at the macroscopic scale can be different from the properties of the same material at the nanoscale. For example, at the macroscopic scale, the colour of gold is yellow. However, the colour of a gold nanoparticle is red.

Nanotechnologists use specialized equipment to work with particles at the nanoscale. They can create large changes in the physical properties of materials. For example, a material can be made stronger, more reflective, or better at conducting electricity. This can trigger behaviours not often seen at a larger scale.

Nanotechnology has uses across many industries, products, and processes. It is used in:

  • Power production
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Textiles
  • Cosmetics
  • Foods
  • Coatings
  • Automobiles
  • Sporting goods

The safety of nanomaterials is also an emerging area of work due to their widespread application.

Nanotechnologists work under the supervision of engineers or scientists.  Their duties vary widely from one employer to another. In general, nanotechnologists:

  • Design or conduct experiments with other scientists or engineers to develop nanotechnology-based materials, components, devices, or systems
  • Implement new or enhanced methods and processes for processing, testing, or manufacturing nanotechnology materials or products
  • Inspect or measure thin films, such as coatings made of carbon nanotubes, polymers, or inorganic materials, using a variety of techniques and analytical tools
  • Collect and compile nanotechnology research and engineering data
  • Develop or modify wet chemical or experimental industrial-laboratory techniques for nanoscale use, such as measuring, mixing, and weighing liquid chemicals
  • Operate, maintain, and conduct experiments in a “clean room” using tools such as electrospinners and spray coaters, and techniques such as atomic layer deposition
  • Operate, maintain, and conduct experiments on samples in an analytical lab using different types of instruments such as GC-MS, HPLC, PCB fabrication, digital microfluidics, and 3-D printers
  • Produce images and measurements, using tools and techniques such as atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, or optical microscopy
  • Install nanotechnology production equipment at customer or manufacturing sites

Nanotechnologists also:

  • Prepare capability data, training materials, or other documentation to transfer processes into production
  • Prepare detailed verbal or written presentations for scientists, engineers, project managers, or upper management
  • Contribute written material or data for grant or patent applications

Other occupations in this field including nanoscientist and nanoengineer.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Most nanotechnologists work regular hours. However, they may need to work shifts depending on the workload at the company. They most often work in offices, plants, and laboratories.

The job involves a lot of repetitive work. Technicians may spend hours at a time with an experiment that demands undivided attention. Nanotechnologists often work with a team of scientists and engineers.

Nanotechnologists commonly wear specialized garments, such as lab coats or clean-room suits. They may have to lift heavy equipment.

The intense concentration required and the pressure of deadlines can be stressful.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Nanotechnologists need:

  • Patience and persistence
  • An aptitude for maths and science
  • Time-management and problem-solving skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
  • The ability to work with a variety of people in a team

They should enjoy using instruments and equipment for precision tasks. They should like solving problems by analyzing data and performing calculations. They should feel comfortable taking a methodical approach to their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

Most emerging occupations develop from more than one occupation. People working in this occupation may come from a variety of education and training backgrounds. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should contact associations and employers in this field to investigate education options and employment possibilities.

The minimum education requirement for nanotechnologists is a related 2-year diploma in technology.

Nanotechnologists continually upgrade their education or knowledge in the field. A willingness to build on their aptitude for the sciences is a definite asset.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Certified Engineering Technologist

Certified Engineering Technologists apply industry-recognized codes, standards, procedures, and practices to solve problems within their areas of expertise. Depending on their duties, they may need to be supervised by a Professional Engineer, Professional Geoscientist, or Professional Technologist (Engineering / Geoscience).

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf] and ASET Regulation [pdf], you must register with the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) to use the title Certified Engineering Technologist (CET).

You do not have to register if you do not call yourself a Certified Engineering Technologist.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Certified Engineering Technologist.

Professional Technologist (Engineering or Geoscience)

Professional Technologists (Engineering) and Professional Technologists (Geoscience) are currently unique to Alberta. They practice independently in accordance with established methodologies and specifications in the fields of engineering and geoscience. They have the authority to sign off and stamp work within a prescribed scope of practice.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf] and Professional Technologists Regulation [pdf], you must register as a Professional Technologist (Engineering or Geoscience) with the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) to practise engineering or geoscience within a prescribed scope of practice, use the titles Professional Technologist (Engineering) or Professional Technologist (Geoscience), or use the abbreviations P.Tech. (Eng.) or P.Tech. (Geo.).

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Professional Technologist (Engineering or Geoscience).

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Emerging occupations typically are the result of:

  • An increased human need
  • Technological advances
  • Greater specialization within an occupation

Often there are too few people working in an emerging occupation to gather survey information. Therefore, it can be difficult to define advancement opportunities or employment outlook. Some Albertans already are working in this emerging occupation, but future demand for it is unknown.

Nanotechnologists may work for:

  • Post-secondary schools
  • Research institutes
  • Manufacturing companies in industries such as biotechnology, medical devices, or plastics
  • Energy services

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment

Explore emerging workplace trends in Alberta that could affect this occupation.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Earnings for nanotechnologists start from $35,783 (Source: NAIT, 2021 estimate).

Often there are too few people working in an emerging occupation to gather survey information. Therefore, no current provincial salary data is available for this occupation.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) website: www.aset.ab.ca

Nanotechnology Research Centre website: nrc.canada.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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