A Leather Technician produces leather by taking raw animal hides through various chemical and mechanical processes. They need to be capable of heavy manual work, be able to work alone or as part of a team and be aware of health, safety and environmental issues.
What would you do?
A Leather Technician produces leather for the manufacture of leather goods for a variety of end users such as furniture, clothing and sports equipment. Leather Technicians need expert knowledge of leather properties to ensure the leather meets customer requirements. They take animal hides through a number of processes to soften and dye the skins. These processes initially clean the hides and remove hair and body fat. They then tan the hides in pits or drums to further colour and soften the leather. They may also add more colour, apply surface patterns and finishes. Leather Technicians in small tanneries are involved in a variety of these processes whereas those working in larger tanneries may concentrate on one particular area.
Day to day tasks include:
- Beamhouse processing including degreasing, splitting, cleaning and de-hairing hides
- Soaking hides in chemical compounds
- Pre-tanning and tanning hides
- Testing and grading leather
- Surface finishing and leather finishing (Drying of hides)
Where would you work?
A Leather Technician may work in small enterprise producing leather or a larger leather tannery; there are less than 80 Tanneries in the UK based in London, Northwest, Yorkshire, the Midlands and Scotland. The Tannery environment can be noisy, dirty, smelly and open to the elements. Many of the technical processes used in the production of leather require the use of hazardous chemicals so protective clothing needs to be worn.
What would you be paid?
For a typical working week of approx. 39 hours, shift work and over time is often available to meet deadlines.
A Leather technician starting salary on average is £12,000-£14,000 per year
An experienced Leather technician salary on average is £18,000-£21,000 per year.
Pay rates vary depending on age, experience, location and the size of the company. Additional benefits may include pension and health care. Many companies offer overtime, bonuses or piece rate in order to meet deadlines.
Leather Craftsperson Apprenticeships (includes Leather Technician): Employers, by law must pay the government’s apprenticeship minimum wage rate. Research shows that many fashion and textile employers supplement this rate of pay. https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates
Will you need qualifications or training?
Experienced is preferred, however employers are keen to train new Leather craft people and qualifications are not required. Training is delivered on-the-job. Employers may also register new trainees onto the Level 2
Leather Craftsperson Apprenticeship (includes Leather Technician):
Qualifications relating to leather production are available via ABC Awards (Part of the Skills & Education Group), Pearsons and with SQA in Scotland:
What are the career prospects?
Experience could lead to a Senior Leather Technician role or team leader, supervisory, quality control, staff training or leather product technology.
How secure is the future of this career?
A Leather Technician is a fundamental occupational role in the leather trade, a sector that contributes in excess of £700 million to the British economy. British leather has an international and iconic reputation and the continued success of the sector will depend on maintaining a skilled, well-trained workforce.
The production of leather is part of the UK’s world-class textile manufacture base, which is growing, thriving and continually investing. Sector employment continues to grow steadily from 97,000 in 2011 to 108,000 in 2016, with an added 19,500 self-employed and research estimates the creation of 20,000 new jobs by 2020.
The number of UK textile & apparel manufacturing businesses has increased annually from 7190 in 2013 to 8075 in 2017 with forecast of further growth.
Textile goods exported across the globe continues to grow with export increases recorded at £250M in March 2016 to £273M in March 2017
UK Fashion & textile manufacture covers traditional craft to technical textiles and has a production value of £9.1 BN, add the wide fashion sector this increases to £28.1 BN sector – 4.7% of the total UK economy.
Where can you find job vacancies?
Vacancies are advertised across the UK with concentration in the Midlands, Yorkshire and the Northwest. This job role mat be advertised under a different job role title such as Leather worker or Tanner. Check out the latest vacancies on the site below:
Note: When job searching this role may appear under the title leather worker, tanner or leather production.
Leather Craftsperson Apprenticeship (include Leather Technician) vacancies:
Some apprenticeship vacancies are ‘open to application’. With details on how to apply within the job vacancy details, these can be found on the job sites listed above. Apprenticeship vacancies can also be found via the Find an Apprenticeship’ Service. For further information, advise and tips on how to apply for an apprenticeship vacancy see the UCAS site apprenticeships–in-the-uk
www.gov.uk (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales)
The websites above are external and the number of job vacancies may vary. Check daily to see new opportunities as they are posted!
See websites related to the Leather Technician job role below:
All About Leather
The Leather Technology Centre
British Travelgoods, Handbags and Accessories