Assayers are lab technicians who analyze precious metal, ores, or other geological material and who analyze the byproducts of waste to obtain information which enables the location, mining, and extraction of minerals. The work also involves doing chemical processing or experimentation in a laboratory for the purpose of finding out the composition of materials. If you seek to become an assayer, you will generally need a college degree.
Earning a bachelor's degree specializing in chemistry can be helpful if you hope to become an assayer; doing lab tests is a large part of what assayers do. Although not required, completing a double major in chemistry and geology could be even more useful. Assayers perform chemistry lab tests that help them analyze metal, ores, and other geological material.
In addition to doing academic coursework, doing a college internship in assaying can be useful if you aspire to become an assayer. The internship will supplement your classroom learning. Also, the internship will enable you to readily gain an understanding of whether you have the analytical skills to handle the daily tasks associated with assaying.
Typically, you will pursue a job in assaying during the last semester of college. The career services department at your school will most likely be able to put you in touch with companies who need assayers. It could also be helpful for you to contact your internship supervisor for help in your job search. Or, you could do an online search at a specialty website such as Infomine.com, which usually has job listings for assayers and others who do mining-related work.
If you want to become an assayer, it is helpful if you have good math skills and science skills. Good computer skills are also helpful because assayers have to use computers to track, communicate, and file assay data. Also, having good decision-making skills can be helpful because assayers must have the capacity to look at data, make fast but accurate decisions, and readily adapt their decision-making skills equally well to an office, a lab environment, or a mining site.
Keep in mind that assayers can work in either public or private settings. For instance, assayers can work in jewelry store settings, a mining company, an oil company, geochemical companies, an engineering consulting firm, or for the government. Also, after doing assaying work for several years, you could start your own assaying research or consulting business. By contrast, you could choose to pursue a graduate degree such as the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in chemistry or geology, which would enable you to teach courses in a college setting.