Materials Engineer  What They Do

Just the Facts

Materials Engineers Career Video

Insider Info

dotMaterial engineers investigate the properties of metals, ceramics, polymers and other materials in order to develop and assess their commercial and engineering applications. They're a lot like detectives, investigating ways to shape and fabricate materials. They also analyze materials' microstructures.

"My job is both exciting and stressful," says research staff assistant Srinath Viswanathan.

"Working in research and development means I get to work on lots of interesting projects. The downside is that I also need to write proposals to make sure all those interesting projects continue to be funded. That introduces an element of uncertainty into the future of my work."

dotThese engineers use very sophisticated techniques to determine the structure of materials: optical and transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and differential thermogravimetry.

Don't wait until graduation to engage in the world of material engineering! "Be involved with material activities through school and material societies," says engineer Jennifer Borowski. "Try to get an internship, co-op or research work."

dotAccording to the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, the majority of materials engineers seeking their first job after graduation will find work in the manufacturing sector, frequently in companies employing over 5,000 workers. Other areas most open to new job seekers are research and development and sales and service. Management and consulting functions become more common as material engineers' career lives mature.

dotThis field of engineering keeps you busy. Viswanathan's workweek usually tops out between 45 and 50 hours. Material engineer Bob Stevens' week looks similar -- about 50 to 60 hours: "This is getting to be the norm in the technical world."

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Investigate metals, ceramics and polymers to assess their possible applications

  • Most new grads work in manufacturing
  • Workweeks usually top 45 to 50 hours
  • You need at least a bachelor's degree