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Career Profile: Materials Engineers

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.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 25,100 people employed as materials engineers in the United States. The median annual salary is $95,600. Entry level employees earn approximately $57,970 per year and senior employees earn approximately $154,340 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Analyze product failure data and laboratory test results to determine causes of problems and develop solutions.
  • Design and direct the testing or control of processing procedures.
  • Monitor material performance and evaluate material deterioration.
  • Conduct or supervise tests on raw materials or finished products to ensure their quality.
  • 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.
  • Guide technical staff in developing materials for specific uses in projected products or devices.
  • 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.
  • Plan and implement laboratory operations to develop material and fabrication procedures that meet cost, product specification, and performance standards.
  • Plan and evaluate new projects, consulting with other engineers and corporate executives as necessary.
  • Supervise production and testing processes in industrial settings, such as metal refining facilities, smelting or foundry operations, or nonmetallic materials production operations.
  • Solve problems in a number of engineering fields, such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, civil, nuclear, and aerospace.
  • Replicate the characteristics of materials and their components with computers.
  • Conduct training sessions on new material products, applications, or manufacturing methods for customers and their employees.
  • Perform managerial functions, such as preparing proposals and budgets, analyzing labor costs, and writing reports.
  • Present technical information at conferences.
  • Design processing plants and equipment.
  • Write for technical magazines, journals, and trade association publications.
  • Teach in colleges and universities.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
25,100
Annual Openings:
1,800
Increase in Openings by 2030:
8%
Annual Salary Range:
$57,970 - $154,340
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree