My career path at TÜV Rheinland
After my Abitur in 2014, I completed an apprenticeship as a chemical laboratory assistant at TÜV Rheinland. I was then transferred to the GC laboratory in Nuremberg in 2017 to determine plasticizers and other pollutants. Since 2018, I have been studying chemistry by distance learning and will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in 2022.
But I already have the opportunity to develop further at TÜV Rheinland. In mid-April of this year, I switched to toy testing. Yes, that’s right – “toy testing expert” is a profession in its own right. And what can I say – even after just two months, I can only recommend it.
Distance learning – Curse or blessing?
Once I arrived in the professional world after my apprenticeship, I could no longer imagine “only studying and only learning again”. I am glad that there is the possibility of distance learning and would also do it again. Although I can boast a degree and a lot of work experience, distance learning has its drawbacks.
In the course of my studies, I often had doubts: Is the distance learning program worth it? Is it worth the stress? Will I be able to develop further afterwards?
Be aware that you have doubled your workload for the entire time (four years for me). Sitting down in the evening after work or on the weekend to study is demanding. There will be less free time. I also used some of my vacation time for my studies (twice I had to go to the technical university in Höxter for two weeks each time).
About half of my study group remains. The reasons for quitting vary, but for most of them it came down to the fact that it was “too much”. Therefore, if you are considering distance learning, think carefully about whether you are up to it and have the discipline for it. In addition, a distance learning program is also associated with costs. In any case, I’m looking forward to completing my studies next year.
My job as an expert for toy testing
Whether it’s a train set, a doll or a running wheel – every toy that comes onto the market in Germany should first be thoroughly tested for chemical, mechanical, and electrical safety. I have stayed true to my training and work as a chemical expert.
It is important to carefully disassemble the toy into its individual parts in order to see which materials have been used and to apply the appropriate tests. After all, a natural product like wood can contain completely different pollutants than plastic or paint. In the beginning, I had to overcome myself a bit in order to cut up a stuffed animal to see what was inside. But that quickly passes and becomes part of everyday work.
The basis for the tests are various standards that specify what must be tested so that it can be sold in Germany or in other countries. It’s a lot to deal with at the beginning, and even now I’m still asking a lot of questions. But it gets better and better with time.
Discovering the child in you
The good thing is that no two toys are the same, so you won’t get bored either. Nowadays, there really is everything on the market that you can imagine. Our tests also include usability. So in this profession, you regularly discover the child in you. Because no matter whether it’s a car racetrack, a bouncy castle or a stuffed animal – adults are still interested in them. Who hasn’t looked enviously at a child and thought to themselves, “I’d like to have that, too” 😉
But I also benefit from my previous experience in the laboratory. Because determining plasticizers, formaldehyde or heavy metals such as lead, are not just “terms” or abstract chemical names for me. I have seen all these things before during my training and can easily visualize them.
Gas chromatograph coupled with a mass spectrometer
I know the procedure in the laboratory and the procedure for the individual tests and therefore know approximately when I can expect my results. I also have good connections and know who to contact if the results need to be available a little faster or if I want to have the results checked again.
I will also be able to get a look at the mechanical and electrical safety tests during the course of my induction and I’m already very excited about what’s in store for me.
Tensile test on toy
EXPERT FOR TOY TESTING
One of Barbara’s tasks in the laboratory is to determine how much plasticizer, nonylphenol and other harmful substances are contained in the samples. My career tip for you is: Set yourself smaller goals, which you try to achieve bit by bit. Too big ones often make you fail.
Giving feedback correctly in the job
Formulating salary expectations correctly