Career, Salary and Education Information
What They Do: Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products.
Work Environment: Materials engineers generally work in offices where they have access to computers and design equipment. Others work in factories or research and development laboratories. Materials engineers typically work full time and may work overtime hours when necessary.
How to Become One: Materials engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering or in a related engineering field. Completing internships and cooperative engineering programs while in school can be helpful in getting hired as a materials engineer.
Salary: The median annual wage for materials engineers is $98,300.
Job Outlook: Employment of materials engineers is projected to grow 6 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of materials engineers with similar occupations.
Following is everything you need to know about a career as a materials engineer with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:
Top 3 Materials Engineer Jobs
- Los Angeles, CA
As a Materials Engineer , you will be responsible for writing research proposals, managing resulting programs, and marketing technology at trade shows and conferences. The successful candidate will be ...
Materials Engineer III 43291-1
- Infotech Sourcing
- Sunnyvale, CA
Materials Engineer III 43291-1 Duration: 12 Months with possible extension or conversion Job Type: W2 Location: Sunnyvale, CA Job Description: Meta Reality Labs (RL) brings together world-class ...
- Kratos Defense
- Birmingham, AL
S. in Materials Engineering or comparable engineering field with interest in obtaining Ph.D. in Materials Engineering * 1-5 years of experience in materials research and/or mechanical testing
What Materials Engineers Do[About this section] [To Top]
Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a range of products, from computer chips and aircraft wings to golf clubs and biomedical devices. They study the properties and structures of metals, ceramics, plastics, composites, nanomaterials (extremely small substances), and other substances in order to create new materials that meet certain mechanical, electrical, and chemical requirements. They also help select materials for specific products and develop new ways to use existing materials.
Duties of Materials Engineers
Materials engineers typically do the following:
- Plan and evaluate new projects, consulting with other engineers and managers as necessary
- Prepare proposals and budgets, analyze labor costs, write reports, and perform other managerial tasks
- Supervise the work of technologists, technicians, and other engineers and scientists
- Design and direct the testing of processing procedures
- Monitor how materials perform and evaluate how they deteriorate
- Determine causes of product failure and develop ways of overcoming such failure
- Evaluate technical specifications and economic factors relating to the design objectives of processes or products
- Evaluate the impact of materials processing on the environment
Materials engineers create and study materials at the atomic level. They use computers to understand and model the characteristics of materials and their components. They solve problems in several different engineering fields, such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, civil, nuclear, and aerospace.
Materials engineers may specialize in understanding specific types of materials. The following are examples of types of materials engineers:
Ceramic engineers develop ceramic materials and the processes for making them into useful products, from high-temperature rocket nozzles to glass for LCD flat-panel displays.
Composites engineers develop materials with special, engineered properties for applications in aircraft, automobiles, and related products.
Metallurgical engineers specialize in metals, such as steel and aluminum, usually in alloyed form with additions of other elements to provide specific properties.
Plastics engineers develop and test new plastics, known as polymers, for new applications.
Semiconductor processing engineers apply materials science and engineering principles to develop new microelectronic materials for computing, sensing, and related applications.
Work Environment for Materials Engineers[About this section] [To Top]
Materials engineers hold about 22,100 jobs. The largest employers of materials engineers are as follows:
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||15%|
|Computer and electronic product manufacturing||8%|
|Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences||7%|
|Primary metal manufacturing||6%|
Materials engineers often work in offices where they have access to computers and design equipment. Others work in factories or research and development laboratories. Materials engineers may work in teams with scientists and engineers from other backgrounds.
Materials Engineer Work Schedules
Materials engineers generally work full time. Some materials engineers work more than 40 hours per week.
How to Become a Materials Engineer[About this section] [To Top]
Get the education you need: Find schools for Materials Engineers near you!
Materials engineers must have a bachelor's degree in materials science and engineering or in a related engineering field. Completing internships and cooperative engineering programs while in school can be helpful in getting a position as a materials engineer.
Materials Engineer Education
Students interested in studying materials engineering should take high school courses in math, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; in science, such as biology, chemistry, and physics; and in computer programming.
Entry-level jobs as a materials engineer require a bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degree programs include classroom and laboratory work focusing on engineering principles.
Some colleges and universities offer a 5-year program leading to both a bachelor's and master's degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as a postsecondary teacher or to do research and development.
Many colleges and universities offer internships and cooperative programs in partnership with industry. In these programs, students gain practical experience while completing their education.
Many engineering programs are accredited by ABET. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have graduated from an accredited program. A degree from an ABET-accredited program is usually necessary to become a licensed professional engineer.
Important Qualities for Materials Engineers
Analytical skills. Materials engineers often work on projects related to other fields of engineering. They must determine how materials will be used and how they must be structured to withstand different conditions.
Math skills. Materials engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.
Problem-solving skills. Materials engineers must understand the relationship between materials' structures, their properties, how they are made, and how these factors affect the products they are used to make. They must also figure out why a product might have failed, design a solution, and then conduct tests to make sure that the product does not fail again. These skills involve being able to identify root causes when many factors could be at fault.
Speaking skills. While working with technicians, technologists, and other engineers, materials engineers must state concepts and directions clearly. When speaking with managers, these engineers must also communicate engineering concepts to people who may not have an engineering background.
Writing skills. Materials engineers must write plans and reports clearly so that people without a materials engineering background can understand the concepts.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Materials Engineers
Licensure for materials engineers is not as common as it is for other engineering occupations, nor it is required for entry-level positions. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one's career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires
- A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
- A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
- Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
- A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam
The initial FE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor's degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE).
Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state's requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.
Certification in the field of metallography, the science and art of dealing with the structure of metals and alloys, is available through ASM International and other materials science organizations.
Additional training in fields directly related to metallurgy and materials' properties, such as corrosion or failure analysis, is available through ASM International.
Other Experience for Materials Engineers
During high school, students can attend engineering summer camps to see what these and other engineers do. Attending these camps can help students plan their coursework for the remainder of their time in high school.
Advancement for Materials Engineers
Junior materials engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers may receive formal training in classrooms or seminars. As engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move on to more difficult projects where they have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.
Eventually, materials engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Many become engineering managers or move into other managerial positions or sales work. An engineering background is useful in sales because it enables sales engineers to discuss a product's technical aspects and assist in product planning, installation, and use. For more information, see the profiles on architectural and engineering managers and sales engineers.
Materials Engineer Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]
Entry Level Experienced
The median annual wage for materials engineers is $98,300. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $60,580, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $154,340.
The median annual wages for materials engineers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Computer and electronic product manufacturing||$112,330|
|Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences||$106,430|
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||$102,080|
|Primary metal manufacturing||$82,380|
Most materials engineers work full time. Some materials engineers work more than 40 hours per week.
Job Outlook for Materials Engineers[About this section] [To Top]
Employment of materials engineers is projected to grow 6 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 1,700 openings for materials engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
See all engineering jobs.
Employment of Materials Engineers
As demand for new materials and manufacturing processes continues to increase, more materials engineers are expected to be needed to help develop these products and systems. For example, new metal alloys are expected to be developed to make airplanes lighter and more fuel efficient. A greater focus on environmental sustainability also may create demand for materials engineers.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2021||Projected Employment, 2031||Change, 2021-31|
More Materials Engineer Information[About this section] [To Top]
For more information about materials engineering career resources, visit
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society
For information about general engineering career resources, visit
American Society for Engineering Education
Technology Student Association
For more information about licensure as a professional engineer, visit
National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying
National Society of Professional Engineers
For more information about certification, visit
For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit
For more information about engineering summer camps, visit
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.