Materials Scientist  What They Do

Just the Facts


Materials Scientists Career Video



Researches and studies the structures and chemical properties of various natural and synthetic or composite materials, including metals, alloys, rubber, ceramics, semiconductors, polymers, and glass. Determines ways to strengthen or combine materials or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications.

This career is part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics cluster Science and Mathematics pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Recommends materials for reliable performance in various environments.
  • Tests metals to determine conformance to specifications of mechanical strength, strength-weight ratio, ductility, magnetic and electrical properties, and resistance to abrasion, corrosion, heat, and cold.
  • Researches methods of processing, forming, and firing materials to develop such products as ceramic dental fillings, unbreakable dinner plates, and telescope lenses.
  • Tests individual parts and products to ensure that manufacturer and governmental quality and safety standards are met.
  • Confers with customers to determine how to tailor materials to their needs.
  • Visits suppliers of materials or users of products to gather specific information.
  • Teaches in colleges and universities.
  • Devises testing methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials.
  • Performs experiments and computer modeling to study the nature, structure, and physical and chemical properties of metals and their alloys, and their responses to applied forces.
  • Conducts research on the structures and properties of materials, such as metals, alloys, polymers, and ceramics, to obtain information that could be used to develop new products or enhance existing ones.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would sit most of the time. There's some walking and standing. You may have to lift and carry things like books, papers or tools weighing 10 lbs. or less.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Micro Electrical/Mechanical Systems Device Scientist (MEMS Device Scientist) --
  • Polymer Materials Consultant --
  • Research and Development Scientist (R and D Scientist) --
  • Research Scientist --
  • Senior Materials Scientist --
  • Staff Research Scientist --
  • Staff Scientist --
  • Technology Officer --
  • Vice President Research --