Materials engineers may design new types of materials, used in a variety of industries, or make improvements to existing structures. Corrosion engineers are materials engineers who specialize in making materials resistant to the corrosive effects of wind, water and chemicals. For instance, many corrosion engineers work to make roadways, bridges and pipelines more resistant to the elements. Annual incomes for corrosion engineers have been increasing steadily for several years now. The average corrosion engineer salary broke the 6-figure threshold for the first time this year.
According to a salary survey conducted by NACE International, the society for corrosion engineering, corrosion engineers have earned an average of $103,148 in 2013. This is up from 2012, when corrosion engineers reported an average annual salary of $98,384. In fact, the average pay rate of corrosion engineers has increased steadily over the past 10 years, from $74,696 in 2003, to $88,354 in 2008, to the present.
Pay by State
As of 2013, NACE reports that corrosion engineers working in Alaska earned the highest average salary: $143,315 per year. Idaho ranked second at $142,750 per year, followed by Vermont at $134,500, and Texas at $117,900. High salaries in Alaska, Idaho and Texas are most likely due to the prevalence of high-paying oil industry jobs. With fewer than five responses recorded, the high average salary reported in Vermont may be a statistical anomaly. Corrosion engineers earned the lowest average rate of pay, $71,166 per year, in South Dakota. In Maine, they made the second lowest, $71,642. Low salaries in these areas may be partially attributed to the relatively depressed level of average incomes.
Pay by Industry
According to NACE, corrosion engineers working in oil extraction earned an average of $138,513 as of 2013, the most in any industry in the country. Those who work in refining earned the second-highest average pay, $124,484 per year. Other high-paying fields for corrosion engineers included the plastics industry, at $118,666 per year, and chemical processing, at $119,705. Academia paid corrosion engineers the least, at an average of $78,533 per year. Other low-paying industries included natural gas utilities, at $84,792, and water treatment, at $89,725.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for materials engineers are expected to grow at a rate of about 9 percent between 2010 and 2020. This will result in approximately 1,900 new positions. This expected growth rate is somewhat slower than the 14 percent average growth rate predicted for the American economy during the decade. However, the bureau predicts that materials engineers will experience favorable employment prospects despite the slower job growth rate, because many current workers are set to retire.