Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide 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.
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 a Materials Engineer
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.
Employment of materials engineers is projected to show little or no change from 2014 to 2024. Materials engineers will be needed to design uses for new materials both in traditional industries, such as aerospace manufacturing, and in industries focused on new medical or scientific products. However, most materials engineers work in manufacturing industries, which are expected to experience employment declines.
This occupation supported 23,200 jobs in 2012 and 25,300 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 9.1%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 0.9% in 2022 to 23,400 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 23,200, compared with an observed value of 25,300, 9.1% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 1.3% in 2024 to 25,600 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 23,400 jobs for 2024, 8.6% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation.