Job Description:

Nanotechnologists design and build objects and materials which are on the nanoscale – tiny in size.

Job Category:

What you will do:

You could be working in:

  • electronics
  • energy production and storage
  • automotive and aerospace industries
  • biotechnology
  • medicine and pharmaceuticals
  • food science and production

Your day-to day duties may include:

  • creating devices and materials on the nanoscale – 0.1 to 100nm in size
  • operating scientific instruments to separate and analyse your products
  • performing experiments to test the nanotechnology you have produced
  • maintaining production and experimental equipment
  • using computers to interpret data
  • preparing learning materials and planning lectures
  • giving lectures to students and leading workshops
  • planning research schedules and overseeing staff in a laboratory
  • writing reports and articles
  • ordering materials, chemicals and stock for your laboratory


You’ll need:

  • science skills & knowledge of physics
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • analytical thinking skills
  • persistence and determination (ambition/drive)
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a nanotechnologist, you will typically need a strong foundation in science and mathematics. While there are no specific subjects required for this field, it’s essential to excel in subjects that provide the necessary knowledge and skills for advanced study in nanotechnology. Here’s a list of recommended subjects to help you prepare for a career in nanotechnology:

  1. Mathematics: Mathematics is fundamental to understanding the complex concepts and calculations involved in nanotechnology. A strong grasp of algebra, calculus, and geometry will be beneficial.
  2. Physics: Physics is the cornerstone of nanoscience. It provides the principles and theories necessary to understand the behavior of matter and materials at the nanoscale.
  3. Chemistry: Chemistry provides insights into the properties and behaviors of elements and compounds, which are essential for working with nanomaterials and nanoscale processes.
  4. Biology: While not as directly related as physics and chemistry, biology can be relevant to certain aspects of nanotechnology, particularly in the field of nanomedicine or biological applications of nanotechnology.
  5. Computer Science or Information Technology: Nanotechnology often involves computer modeling and simulations. Proficiency in programming and computational skills can be valuable.
  6. Design and Technology: Courses related to design and technology can help you develop practical skills and an understanding of materials and manufacturing processes, which are relevant to nanotechnology.
  7. Environmental Science: Understanding the environmental impact of nanomaterials and nanotechnology is becoming increasingly important. Courses in environmental science can provide insight into these concerns.

Post School

You’ll usually need a degree or a master’s qualification in nanotechnology or a related course, and experience of working in a laboratory. Some employers may also expect you to have a PhD.

Courses related to nanotechnology include:

  • nanoscience
  • maths
  • physics
  • chemistry
  • electronics engineering
  • materials science
  • computer science has a list of relevant undergraduate and postgraduate courses. It also has a database of nanotechnology companies and research laboratories, which will be useful if you’re applying for work experience.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You may need to work occasional evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. In industry, you may work on shifts, which can include evening and weekend work.

You’ll work in a laboratory, where you’ll use specialist scientific equipment, like microscopes. You’ll be expected to wear protective clothing like a lab coat and safety glasses.

You may work on projects with scientists in other countries, so may need to travel overseas.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could work your way up to a management role.

You could also move into a teaching or lecturing role.