Vocational Graduate Certificate in Instrumental Analysis
This qualification covers the skills and knowledge required by technical specialists who already have a relevant higher education or vocational qualification, or have extensive vocational experience without formal qualifications and require the competence to develop or adapt analytical methods and operate and troubleshoot advanced analytical instruments.
This qualification was developed in response to a widespread industry shortage of technicians who have more than 'a black box' knowledge of analytical instruments and an ability to optimise them for specific analytical methods and samples. It replaces a non-Training Package qualification and has strong industry support.
Job roles/employment outcomes
The Vocational Graduate Certificate in Instrumental Analysis provides training in advanced instrumental analysis techniques for individuals who already have some previous training or work experience in laboratory operations at AQF V or higher. Employment outcomes targeted by this qualification include senior technical officers, senior technical specialists, analysts and similar personnel.
Senior technical officers who undertake analysis using advanced analytical instrumentation are able to:
conduct a wide range of complex and specialised tests
exercise considerable analytical and judgemental skills to determine appropriate methods and procedures from a range of alternatives
install and configure a range of accessories that extend the capability of analytical instruments
modify methods to cope with non-routine tests and analyses where unusual samples could be involved
develop or adapt methods and procedures
optimise and troubleshoot the performance of analytical instruments by applying a specialised knowledge of the sample characteristics, instrument sub-systems and analytical procedure problems/remedies
maintain analytical instruments fit for purpose.
Senior technical officers require both broad and highly specialised knowledge and skills. For example, they need to be able to:
apply complex chemical principles to prepare samples and separate species effectively
apply complex principles associated with heat, temperature, fluid flow, behaviour of gases, ionisation, interaction of ionised particles with electric/magnetic fields and the electromagnetic spectrum to understand the design of sample injection systems, instrument pathways, detection and control systems
interpret complex technical manuals and test methods and apply logical and lateral thinking, fault finding and troubleshooting skills to optimise instruments and methods
apply a detailed knowledge of measurement principles (accuracy, precision and calculation of uncertainties),calibration and quality control procedures to instrumental analysis
Senior technical officers work under broad direction from scientists/medical staff/engineers and accept responsibility for the day-to-day operation of their work/functional area (This may include responsibility for conducting analyses using one or more specific instruments).
In the course of their normal work, they:
plan, allocate and monitor resources for their work area and are responsible for their work group's outputs
explain complex instructions and procedures to others
define and solve complex problems by investigating, developing and testing alternatives in response to vague or ill-defined information which is not readily accessible and requires selective analysis
liaise with clients, suppliers and contractors on technical matters
provide technical information to internal and external customers.
An example of the work of a senior technical officer is given below.
A senior technical officer works in forensic science laboratory and may use advanced chromatography techniques (GC-MS) and micro-spectrophotometric techniques (UV/VIS/NIR and FTIR) to analyse samples collected at crime scenes.
A senior technical officer works in an environmental monitoring laboratory and may use ICP-MS to measure the presence of heavy metal ions in water.
A senior technical officer works for a major pharmaceutical company and may undertake pharmacokinetic studies using LC-MS techniques to establish the time taken for selected company products to be eliminated from the human body.
This qualification applies to experienced senior technical officers and technical specialists who conduct instrumental analysis in laboratories providing consultancy, research and development and quality assurance services. These services may be provided for a wide range of industry sectors, such as forensic science, biomedical, environmental monitoring, food and beverage processing, pharmaceuticals and many other kinds of testing of manufactured products.