If you have an interest in industrial production, you might consider working as an electroplater. These industrial employees cover metal plates and objects with special coatings. The greatest demand for electroplaters exists in regions of the United States with strong industrial economies. According to 2008 figures from the Illinois Manufacturing Foundation, the six-county Chicago metro area featured 250 firms that employed electroplaters in high-tech electronics, automotive and aerospace industries. You need to know the specifics of this job field before you begin tracking down opportunities.
Electroplaters typically work on factory production lines. They receive machined metal and coat it with a protective layer of metal that prevents rust or provides a decorative finish. Electroplaters dip the metal into the solution or use brushes or sprayers to apply it. They also adjust dials and other controls to set the speed of production and adjust the temperature of the coating solution. Objects that electroplaters coat include car bodies, household appliances and bicycles. Electroplaters protect areas of the metal that should not be coated by covering these areas with wax or tape.
To oxidize the plating solution, electroplaters pass an electrical current through it. Once the coating has been applied, they dry the metal to complete the production process. Electroplaters work with acids, alkalis, waxes, lacquers, tape and other chemicals to clean, treat and plate metal. They also use brushes, drum washers, tanks and baths to perform their work. After parts dry, electroplaters perform quality inspections to check for defects. When they find defects, they identify potential problems with production and make necessary adjustments.
Electroplaters need to have the ability to perform manual labor in a fast-paced production environment. You also must be willing to deal with loud noises and toxic fumes. Expect to get dirty, too. Good physical fitness and stamina and above-average strength are necessary for the job. You also should have an interest in chemistry and metallurgy. Because the work is potentially hazardous, you need to have a strong focus on safety to succeed as an electroplater. The job requires you to wear protective clothing, goggles, gloves and ear plugs.
Employers generally do not require a formal background for electroplating work. It is considered a general labor position. However, an associate degree in production technology or a related field may give you an advantage over other job applicants. The hazardous nature of the work generally requires you to have previous experience working in a production environment. Many companies promote workers to electroplating jobs from other production departments. The National Association for Surface Finishing offers a 22-lesson certification program in electroplating and surface finishing.