How to Become a Materials Engineer

Materials Engineer Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $97,100
Avg. Pay / hour $46.68
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 0%

Materials Engineers can be employed in many industries including in civil engineering, communications and manufacturing.

These professionals use a variety of materials such as metal or ceramics and other compounds in order to create a variety of new manufacturing items.

A Materials Engineer can further specialize in a certain type of material most often in metallurgy, metals, ceramics or plastics.

These professionals can be hired by manufacturing firms, consulting firms, educational research labs, research groups or other similar organizations.

One obstacle Materials Engineers specializing in plastics have recently overcome is developing composite material made from plastics that are used from recycled material for consumer use.

Or, additionally, create plastics for manufacturing firms that take less time to decompose in landfills instead of becoming a hazard to the environment as it has been previously.

Students who want to become a Materials Engineer need a strong background in mathematics and the sciences.

To learn more information about this fascinating career, continue reading the information below where you will find the educational requirements to enter this field as well as salary and income data and the projected job growth for this profession.

Education Requirements to Become a Materials Engineer

Candidates who want to become a Materials Engineer must attend a postsecondary program in order to have a vast knowledge in math, science and engineering concepts.

In order to fulfill this requirement, candidates will need to attain a Bachelor’s degree.

Students should major in Materials Science or Materials Engineering to strengthen their science and mathematics skills as well gain understanding of important engineering concepts.

Some programs also offer on hands training or the opportunity to specialize in a certain type of material.

Candidates can specialize in a program focusing on electronic material or metallurgy.

A similar or related major should also help you become a Materials Engineer.

If your preferred school doesn’t offer an engineering program in Materials Science or Materials Engineering, make sure you take courses that will enhance your background.

You can major in a general engineering program and take courses that will help your understanding in Materials Science.

The following is a list of courses that will help strengthen your understanding of this specialization in engineering:

  • Polymer bonding properties
  • Thermodynamics
  • Production using inorganic materials

Other skills that employers look for in candidates include knowing how to use computer software, third dimensional modeling and understanding the manufacturing process.

In addition, some employers look for candidates with experience in creating and processing specific materials.

Materials Engineer Job Description

A Materials Engineer may specialize in a certain type of material most often in metals, plastics or ceramics.

They can create compound materials from the many types of substances available.

For example, an Engineer specializing in metals will take several types of metals and mix them to create a new type of metal that is stronger or more useful than each of the individual metals.

In creating new types of materials and compounds, a Materials Engineer will analyze the materials as well as other data to begin the process of producing new compounds.

They will perform tests, monitor and troubleshoot any problems with the process.

The final step is to assure quality control and provide records of the production process.

Materials Engineer may also be responsible for creating new development and testing processes that are in accordance with industry standards and government regulations.

Materials Engineer Salary and Career Path

The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers general information regarding Engineer wage and salary information.

Students who finish an Engineering degree should expect a higher income then students going into other professions.

Entry level Engineers are some of the highest paid professionals that have a Bachelor’s degree.

The annual median wage for Materials Engineers in 2008 was approximately $81,800.

Candidates who want to become a Materials Engineer should expect an income between $51,000 and $124,000 depending on experience.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment opportunities for Materials Engineers will grow at an average pace for all occupations.

The projected job growth for this profession is approximately 9 percent through the year 2018.

Consumer demand for products that use composite or other nontraditional materials produced by nanotechnology or biotechnology will affect this projected growth.

The anticipated job opportunities for this profession will occur in the scientific, professional or technical industries.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$103,480
New Jersey$106,720
New Mexico- NA -
New York$111,440
North Carolina$103,060
South Carolina$84,070
West Virginia$94,620

The top earning state in the field is Washington, where the average salary is $132,110.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Washington - $132,110
Alaska - $122,170
Maryland - $115,430
Texas - $114,930
California - $112,760
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Materials Engineers, OCC Code 17-2131, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a materials engineer?

Materials engineers develop and test materials that are later used to create different products.

They supervise the work of technologists and technicians.

Materials engineers also determine the causes of product failure and evaluate the impact materials processing has on the environment.

Engineers specialized in this field create and study materials at an atomic level.

Materials engineers may be further specialized in a specific type of material, such as ceramics, composites, metals, or plastics.

On projects, they team up with technicians, technologists and other engineers.

Materials engineers need analytical, math and problem-solving skills.

How much does a materials engineer make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of materials engineers was $92,390 in May 2018.

The exact salary depends on many factors, including the engineer’s level of experience and the field of employment.

For instance, materials engineers who work in research and development earned a median annual salary of around $108,000, while engineers working for primary metal manufacturing earned a median wage of a little over $81,000 a year.

How much does it cost to become a materials engineer?

Materials engineers need a bachelor’s degree in materials science or a related engineering field.

The average annual out-of-state costs for bachelor’s degree programs in materials science is around $50,000.

Tuition costs vary depending on the college and the program you choose.

Graduate degrees in materials engineering are also available at many colleges.

A master’s degree is required if you want to work in research and can also give you better job prospects.

What is the demand for materials engineers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for materials engineers is expected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028.

Those who have completed an internship or have work experience have the best chances of finding employment in this field.

Having a background in computer modeling can also be a plus since computer modeling and simulations are gradually replacing laboratory testing in predicting the performance of new materials.

How long does it take to become a materials engineer?

Becoming a materials engineer will require a few years of additional training after high school.

In order to qualify for entry-level employment in this field, you will need a four-year college degree.

Completing an internship in college will give you better job prospects after graduation.

Junior engineers usually work under the supervision of more experienced engineers and after gaining more experience they can move towards more complex projects.

If you want to get your Professional Engineer (PE) license you will need at least four years of experience and you will have to pass two exams.

You can take the initial exam in Fundamentals of Engineering right after finishing college.

After meeting the work experience requirements, you can take a second exam in the Principle and Practice of Engineering, and if you pass, you will become a fully licensed engineer.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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