How to Become a

Material Scientist

The complete career guide to be a Material Scientist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $94,940
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 2.7%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

As a Materials Scientist, you’ll spend time performing different types of research related to the chemical and physical properties of various materials to apply those to the real world and solve problems in manufacturing and/or engineering.


What is a Material Scientist?

Duties

Here are the job duties that are performed by a material scientist on a regular basis:

  • Undertake research on the structural components of synthetic and natural materials, to gain new insights regarding the best possible use of that material or its ability to meet a certain need.
  • Write detailed technical reports, proposals, guidance manuals and manuscripts to support other material scientists and individuals like clients or sponsors.
  • Perform laboratory experiments and create computer models to observe the nature and physical or chemical aspects of metals or their alloys, especially their reactionary response to external phenomena.
  • Design laboratory experiments to further assess the techniques and procedures used for materials production, including those with special properties.
  • Develop novel ways to strengthen or combine different materials for a wide range of applications or production methods.

Day In The Life

As a qualified material scientist, you can expect to spend time performing different types of research related to the chemical and physical properties of materials, at the atomic level. You would run experiments to understand the structure and properties of metals and other substances, determine the strength of the bond between molecules, and the ways in which select materials could be utilized according to mechanical, electrical or chemical specifications.

Material scientists typically work frequently with engineers and processing personnel to confirm the application of their findings in the real world. The results of their study are used to further the development of new and unique products in various industries like aerospace, energy, electronics and nuclear power. You create and study materials while applying concepts like microstructural or analytical chemistry, and surface analysis processes.

In addition, material scientists are also involved with creating materials that display enhanced characteristics via materials processing technologies that function at the nano- and microscale.

Work Schedule

Material scientists generally work full time, at more than 40 hours per week. A material scientist might work at standard offices or research laboratories surrounded by computers and design technology. Some also work at factories and private development institutes in coordination with material engineers and scientists from other backgrounds. Project deadlines can be tight and overtime occasionally is expected, including on weekends and late nights.

Growth Of The Job

The job prospect for material scientists is the same as the average for other related occupations. Professionals holding an advanced degree like a Ph.D. are expected to get the best opportunities in senior management and research roles. Further, with an increased focus on new product design, a material scientist will be at the forefront of cutting-edge developments in the coming years. This is especially the case for those working in emerging fields like sustainable materials, high performance textiles, nanotechnology, biomedical materials, etc. In addition, material scientists may also switch to professions that require superior analytical skills, like business management, accountancy, banking and information technology.

Typical Employers

Entry-level professionals in this industry can find job opportunities with diverse industries starting with mining companies to multinational research and development firms. Academic institutions like colleges and universities, technical consultancy organisations and the defence forces also require the expertise brought in by a material scientist. Computer modeling and simulations, are taking the place of more expensive laboratory testing techniques, to understand the performance of various materials. Therefore, aspiring applicants that have a strong background in computer modelling will find more promising job opportunities than others.


How To Become a Material Scientist

Since material science teams are composed of scientists, technicians and engineers from varied backgrounds, having a bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. materials science and engineering) is a good starting point for this career path. You must also have completed high school classes in mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. and in computer programming.

Besides regular coursework, several colleges and universities provide full-time or part-time internships and cooperative programs in partnership with industry bigwigs to accelerate your career. In these programs, students can gain practical experience while completing their education. In addition, you must cultivate a clear understanding on scientific concepts and statistical analysis to be successful in this career. Key skills that will help you find success include being detail-oriented, working well independently as well as in a team setting, and possessing a high degree of mental aptitude.


Material Scientist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$66,610

Average

$94,940

High Range

$149,310

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$32/hr

Average

$46/hr

High Range

$72/hr

How do Material Scientist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Material Scientist's can make an average annual salary of $94,940, or $46 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $66,610 or $32 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #78 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Highest Education Among Material Scientists

  • 18.4%   Doctorate
  • 19.7%   Masters
  • 54.3%   Bachelors
  • 4.4%   Associates
  • 2.7%   College
  • 0.3%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

7,300

2024 Est. Jobs

7,500

Job Growth Rate

2.7%

Est. New Jobs

200

How does Material Scientist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 200 jobs for a total of 7,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 2.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #526 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most Material Scientists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 1,900 300 0%
Basic chemical manufacturing 500 -100 ---
Management of companies and enterprises 400 --- ---

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