Materials Engineer

Study materials—like glass, fabric, or ceramics—to make better products.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
$52,000 – $127,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Materials Engineers do?

What are materials? Glass, ceramics, plastics, semiconductors, synthetics, and fabrics, to name a few. What does an Engineer do? Uses science and math to come up with solutions to problems. So, as a Materials Engineer, you study the chemical makeup of existing products and create new ones.

The products that you create as a Materials Engineer are commonly adaptations of another product, which is why it is so important that you understand their individual components. At what point will a ceramic bird bath freeze and crack? How much pressure can a ¼-inch sheet of iron handle? This information helps you, the Materials Engineer, create ceramics with a higher freezing point, or replace the type of metal used in tanks, cars, or space shuttles.

You commonly work for manufacturers, making improvements to the production process. You’re the one who comes up with the solutions when, for example, an airplane manufacturer needs a lighter wing material. Or a washing machine company wants a metal drum that won’t rust.

Whatever the material, you’ve got your hands in the process at every stage, from procuring the raw material (think metal ore from deep within the Earth, or hemp from a plant) to packaging the final product in preparation for shipment to the store.

Throughout the process, you consult with other Engineers, advise about material changes, perform laboratory work, test materials in a variety of ways, and ensure that the processes being used conform to governmental standards.

Should I be a Materials Engineer?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.

  • Also known as: Forensic Materials Engineer, Material Analyst, Materials and Processes Manager, Materials Branch Chief See More

    How to become a Materials Engineer

    Most Materials Engineers have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaa9bj&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%2885%25%29|master%27s+%282%25%29|doctorate+%2813%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,85
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