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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 to create new materials that meet certain mechanical, electrical, and chemical requirements. They also help select materials for specific products, develop new ways to use existing materials, and develop new materials.Duties
Materials engineers typically do the following:
Materials engineers create and study materials at an atomic level. They use computers to replicate the characteristics of materials and their components. They solve problems in a number of 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.
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.Education
Students interested in studying materials engineering should take high school courses in mathematics, 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, which may be at the Ph.D. level, 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
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 principals 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 be able to 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
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
The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam can be taken after graduation from college. 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.
Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own requirements.
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.Advancement
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Material Engineer
Top Careers After Material Engineer
Hispanic or Latino9.9%
Black or African American1.3%
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Pennsylvania State University5.9%
University of Utah5.9%
Iowa State University5.9%
Wayne State University5.5%
University of Florida5.5%
Arizona State University5.1%
University of Massachusetts - Lowell5.1%
University of Texas at El Paso5.1%
Georgia Institute of Technology -5.1%
University of Pittsburgh -5.1%
Case Western Reserve University4.6%
Michigan State University4.6%
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor4.6%
Ohio State University4.2%
Colorado School of Mines4.2%
University of Dayton4.2%
Carnegie Mellon University4.2%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute4.2%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Piping Materials Specification Engineer||Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals, Inc.||Houston, TX||May 09, 2016||$142,848 -
|Battery Materials Engineer||Eocell, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Sep 20, 2016||$130,000|
|Materials Engineer||Hitachi Global Storage Technologies||San Jose, CA||Aug 17, 2016||$127,192 -
|Materials Engineer||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Jun 14, 2016||$127,192|
|Staff Materials Engineer-Metals||Tesla Motors, Inc.||Fremont, CA||Jan 01, 2015||$125,000 -
|Principal Electrode and Materials Engineer||Advanced Bionics LLC||Santa Clarita, CA||Aug 25, 2015||$125,000 -
|Materials Engineer Senior Staff||Lockheed Martin Operations Support, Inc.||Washington, DC||Dec 03, 2015||$119,000 -
|Materials Engineer||LPI, Inc.||New York, NY||Feb 22, 2015||$118,000|
|Manager, Materials Engineering||Aisin Technical Center of America, Inc.||Northville, MI||Jul 11, 2016||$117,229|
|Corporate Materials Engineer||Monsanto Company||Saint Louis, MO||Jun 05, 2015||$114,421 -
|Materials Engineer||Tesla Motorsinc||Fremont, CA||May 16, 2016||$109,762|
|Materials Engineer||Tesla Motorsinc||Fremont, CA||Apr 15, 2016||$109,762|
|Materials Engineer||Aluma-Form, Inc.||Memphis, TN||May 25, 2016||$109,600|
|Materials Engineer||Seattle Box Company||Kent, WA||Jan 05, 2016||$109,175|
|Lead Materials Engineer||TOYO USA, Inc.||Houston, TX||Sep 12, 2015||$84,000|
|Materials Engineer||Infostat Inc.||Hillsborough, NJ||Sep 07, 2015||$84,000|
|Materials Engineer||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Jun 14, 2016||$83,886|
|Materials Engineer||Smile Design Dental Lab, Inc.||Bellevue, WA||Sep 05, 2015||$83,480|
|Materials Engineer||Hi TEC Dental Ceramics, Inc.||Fremont, CA||Sep 08, 2015||$83,480|
|Materials Engineer||Schlumberger Technology Corporation||Sugar Land, TX||Feb 09, 2016||$83,018|
|Materials Engineer||Marutee Engineering Services LLC||Auburn Hills, MI||Dec 12, 2016||$82,500|
|Materials Engineer||Tristar Art, Inc.||Santa Rosa, CA||Sep 08, 2015||$82,270|
|Materials Engineer||Amergy Solar, Inc.||Piscataway, NJ||Jan 05, 2016||$73,045|
|Material Flow Engineer||Polaris Industries, Inc.||Roseau, MN||May 12, 2016||$73,000|
|Materials Engineer||Techcorr USA Management, LLC||Pasadena, TX||Sep 22, 2015||$72,800|
|Materials Engineer||LPI, Inc.||New York, NY||Aug 30, 2016||$72,800|
|Materials Engineer||Vigor Tech USA||Hyattsville, MD||Sep 09, 2015||$72,419|
|Materials Engineer||Vigor Tech USA LLC||TX||Sep 23, 2015||$72,419|
|Geotechnical/Materials Engineer||Ardaman & Associates, Inc.||Tampa, FL||Nov 25, 2016||$72,384|
|Materials-Chemist Engineer||Cummins Emission Solutions Inc.||Columbus, IN||Aug 23, 2016||$71,989 -
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