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Materials Engineers Career

Career Description

Evaluate materials and develop machinery and processes to manufacture materials for use in products that must meet specialized design and performance specifications. Develop new uses for known materials. Includes those engineers working with composite materials or specializing in one type of material, such as graphite, metal and metal alloys, ceramics and glass, plastics and polymers, and naturally occurring materials. Includes metallurgists and metallurgical engineers, ceramic engineers, and welding engineers.

What Job Titles Materials Engineers Might Have

  • Materials Engineer
  • Materials Research Engineer
  • Metallurgist
  • Process Engineer

What Materials Engineers Do

  • Review new product plans and make recommendations for material selection based on design objectives, such as strength, weight, heat resistance, electrical conductivity, and cost.
  • Supervise the work of technologists, technicians, and other engineers and scientists.
  • Analyze product failure data and laboratory test results to determine causes of problems and develop solutions.
  • Conduct or supervise tests on raw materials or finished products to ensure their quality.
  • Plan and implement laboratory operations for the purpose of developing material and fabrication procedures that meet cost, product specification, and performance standards.
  • Design and direct the testing or control of processing procedures.
  • Monitor material performance and evaluate material deterioration.
  • Perform managerial functions, such as preparing proposals and budgets, analyzing labor costs, and writing reports.
  • Plan and evaluate new projects, consulting with other engineers and corporate executives as necessary.
  • Guide technical staff engaged in developing materials for specific uses in projected products or devices.
  • Evaluate technical specifications and economic factors relating to process or product design objectives.
  • Modify properties of metal alloys, using thermal and mechanical treatments.
  • Determine appropriate methods for fabricating and joining materials.
  • Solve problems in a number of engineering fields, such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, civil, nuclear, and aerospace.
  • Supervise production and testing processes in industrial settings, such as metal refining facilities, smelting or foundry operations, or nonmetallic materials production operations.
  • Teach in colleges and universities.
  • Design processing plants and equipment.

What Materials Engineers Should Be Good At

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

What Materials Engineers Should Be Interested In

  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

What Materials Engineers Need to Learn

  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Production and Processing - Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Median Salary: $93,310

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.