It may not have been a great career a few decades ago, but today the situation has changed a lot. Leather is not considered untouchable product; rather, it has become a part of modern accessories in possession of almost all section of people. Career in Leather Technology, particularly designing is not only high paying but glamorous too. However, as any occupation is subject to interest and flair, leather technology is no exception.
Before deciding for a career in leather technology, aspirant should think of various working conditions. For instance working in smelly tanneries or leather processing units can be difficult. Additionally, there cannot be any guarantee that a leather designer can turn out to be a celebrity designer as it requires lot more than mere designing excellence. Job in leather companies is quite challenging but profitable and offers learning experience which later on can be used to open up your own production unit.
Job prospects are quite attractive for those who have excellent designing skills combined with mental ability and artistic finesse. Moreover, creativity with uniqueness adds value to the skills of the leather designer and he can reach out to clients with such skills. Coming up with fresh ideas, concepts and designs are some key characteristics required in a leather designer. The Indian leather industry is growing at fast pace and can accommodate any number of professionals.
India is a leading exporter of leather and leather products and numerous export houses employ technical and non-technical persons. Leather technologists with their ideas and dexterity to convert ideas in form can bag attractive jobs in leather companies. As new multinationals are coming to India, the leather industry is poised to become a hi-tech industry and those who are qualified in leather technology would get preference over rest.
Jobs ranging from designing footwear and accessories like belts, bags, purses and caps to toys, upholstery, baggage, musical instruments, garment tags, gift items, etc are umpteen in various export houses. Leather technologists can get jobs in chemical and engineering industries involved in the manufacturing of items such as bags, suitcases, upholstery, footballs and cricket balls, car and aircraft seats, hydraulic seals, gaskets, etc.
Leather Technologist working at Production Unit - A leather technologist working at a manufacturing unit is expected to supervise production line workers. Ensuring the water resistance capacity before the leather is processed completely is another key part of leather technologist. Leather technologists study the use of various chemicals in the processing of leather and supervise the processing as per specifications. Processing of skin and hyde so that leather can be given a shape, treatment of skin, assessment of the thickness, softness, texture, colour, etc. is done by the leather technologist.
Research and Quality control by Leather Technologist – Leather technologist ensures that a proper research and quality control is at its place when testing and analysis is done in the lab and for that chemical, dye stuffs and small scale apparatus are used.
Marketing and Sales professional – Leather product companies require professionals who have some knowledge of production or quality management in leather accessories in the marketing team as they can be the most suitable person to deal with potential customers or clients. Additionally, a leather technologist working in marketing and sales department can have an effective communication with the production department with accurate specifications and requirements or demand.
Leather technology is fast changing and it is crucial to keep pace with the latest developments in the field. A degree program or diploma in leather technology is essential to make an impactful entry into the industry. The courses in leather technology are designed to cater to the specific requirements of the industry and enable a candidate to fit into a specific job.
Background in chemistry is beneficial for the candidates who are aspiring to shine in leather technology as later on they have to deal in chemicals in the processing of leather and leather products. Opportunities of opening small production unit of leather cannot be ruled out, particularly when small scale industries are being given aid and leather technology is low cost-intensive and requires relatively small investment and power supply. Cheap labour and available raw material in India are some other advantages for opening a production unit.
Aspirants willing to get a breakthrough in leather technology can do various short term certificate courses. Besides there are some degree courses which are being offered by some universities in various states of India. Depending upon interest and orientation a candidate can either go for designing or may get into the technical aspect of leather technology. Designing and production process, both are equally attractive in terms of compensation packages.
Leather designing is attractive as it can turn a leather designer into a world famous personality. World over designers start their career by designing leather accessories by using leather and later on develop their own range of designer wear and accessories. Similarly, degree or diploma in leather production can help you work with leather manufacturing companies and tanneries. Subsequent to gaining some experience the person can start his own production unit.
As leather technology is a new discipline and is an employment focused course, most of the banks offer attractive education loans to students. Once a student has received admission offer from the college he can proceed for an education loan and after completion of the procedure, the bank transfers the required money to the institute as per the requirement of various dues and fees. Various scholarships too are offered to students on the basis of merit and performance in entrance exam.
Junior Research Fellowship can be earned for further research. Some diploma courses are offered to working professionals and sponsored students wherein the employer firm pays the whole fees for the candidate.
Compensation packages in leather industry are highly dependent upon the skills. Most of the companies are in private sector, therefore, the companies pay according to their comfort and availability of human resource or the game of supply and demand. Whereas big multinational companies pay attractive salaries, small companies are frugal. However, situation is expected to change down the years as multinationals are setting up their bases in India. A young leather technologist can expect a starting pay package between of Rs 10,000 per month.
A huge export market for leather products shows that India’s leather industry will require too many leather technologists in coming years. A lot is required to train professionals working in leather industry as most of the human resource in leather factories does not have formal training. Therefore, a real dearth of trained leather technologists gives edge to trained one who can cash in on the opportunity to their advantage. The mismatch of supply and demand is in favour of trained leather technologists and early starters would be in advantageous position.
There are diploma courses and degree courses being offered by various institutes. The courses include designing or production of leather garments, footwear or accessories and many others. A one year diploma course may cost between Rs 30,000-50,000. Similarly, BTech in Leather Technology could cost a candidate Rs 2-3 lakhs. The fee includes raw material costs, course fee and caution money. Hostel expenses are additional.
Leather accessories have great demand not only in western countries but also in India. Despite the lack of trained leather technologists, India is able to produce fancy and attractive leather products. The requirement for designers of footwear and accessories like belts, bags, purses, caps, toys, upholstery, baggage, musical instruments, garment tags, gift items, etc. generates most of the jobs in leather manufacturing and design.
Candidates with excellent designing skills can opt for overseas jobs which are in plenty. The US and UK require leather technologists who can work in reducing pollution level caused by the manufacturing process. Similarly, professionals working as designer for leather accessories have plenty of job options working with numerous leather products manufacturing firms. Major advantage of working in overseas leather companies is that candidate gets attractive salaries and high standard of living.
Career in leather technology offers attractive growth prospects and a person working in it can later on move from production technologist to quality control checker, research or technical management, etc. Then prospects are open for working in departments such as buying, sales or marketing. And, ultimately working in MNCs is possible if you are recruited for overseas job.
The only negative aspect of the career is that dealing with the raw material can be a daunting task.
In order to get a job in a leather manufacturing unit as a leather technologist, the person is required to posses the following skills:
India’s leather industry is the fourth largest in the world which not only offers attractive products to consumers in India but around the world. Offering attractive career choices, leather industry in India has lot more potential which can be tapped once more investment is done and latest technology is brought in. Crucial facts about leather technology is that the leather industry till recently entertained experienced professionals as there were no academic or research institutes in leather technology; however, the modern requirement to implement latest technology to produce fine range of leather product forces to set various institutes which can teach about leather and use of technology to produce effective and suitable leather products.