As a student, one is often at the brink of making decisions that can affect career choices later on. Depending on one's personal interest and aptitude, this decision can be made easy. A branch offering great future prospects, if aligned with your interest, is metallurgical engineering.
The profession of a metallurgical engineer is extremely diverse. It offers a variety of career opportunities for students to venture into. Metallurgical engineers, with the requisite skills, can be employed in both industry and academia.
Metallurgical engineering is the science of extraction of metals from ores, its processing and its study for further applications. Traditionally, metallurgical engineering involves crushing and separating of ores, their extraction, their processing to make alloys with desired properties, modification of alloys for engineering applications and evaluating them for improvement in future.
Metallurgical engineering has a broad scope, overlapping many other branches of science and technology, including physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, and mining. It subdivides into various areas such as mineral processing; extractive metallurgy; physical metallurgy; metal forming; casting; powder metallurgy; fuel refractory and furnaces; nano-technology and bio-processing.
With the production of steel and research & development labs on the rise, the demand for skilled metallurgical engineers is only increasing. This is opening avenues of employment for engineers in stell plants, non-ferrous (aluminum, copper, zinc, etc) industry, central research institutions, regional research laboratories, in defense (production, or as faculty in reputed colleges.
For those with an appetite for challenges, there are many- energy conservation in metal production, developing green technologies, and utilization of waste, among others. One can also venture to other areas such as ceramics, composites, polymers, and electronic materials.
To have a great future in this field, the pursuer must have an inclination towards experimental techniques, operation of sophisticated instruments, basic sciences, analytical ability, adaptability in accordance with the technological trend, patience and capacity for hard work.
A great future is sealed with a starting salary of INR 40,000 per month in the industry, and comparatively modest earnings in the academic line. The income obtained after graduation in metallurgical engineering lags behind only a couple of fields in science and technology, such as computer science and electronics engineering. Assessing the future as a metallurgical engineer also includes knowing what the daily schedule of a working professional must be like. A normal day in the life of a researcher or a faculty member includes study and research work for a few hours in the morning and in the afternoon, making notes for lectures in between, working in the lab, and retiring in the evening. For a member of the industry, the day includes assessment of figures from the site every morning, addressing problems and implementing schemes during the day, generally retiring later in the evening. Both come with their fair share of challenges and perks.
Hence, the career prospects are of a wide range, with economic stability both in India and abroad. The experience is made enjoyable if the prospect of being an academician or doing a field job in an interdisciplinary field attracts you.