become a materials scientist

What does a Materials Scientist do?

A materials scientist studies and researches the chemical properties and structures of different synthetics, natural, or composite materials. These materials would include ceramics, rubber, metals, and glass, among others. They create ways to combine or strengthen materials, as well as develop new materials or properties.

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How to Become a Materials Scientist

A materials scientist typically require a master’s degree and often need a doctorate. Many employers expect 5 or more years of experience with extensive skill and knowledge. Although some employers may give on the job training, it is normally expected that candidates come to the job with the required skills, training, and/or work experience. You would need to have advanced knowledge in physics, chemistry, engineering, technology, and mathematical and employers also look for candidates that can solve complex problems.

Job Description of a Materials Scientist

A materials scientist must typically conduct research on the structures and properties of materials in order to help develop new products or enhance existing ones. They perform experiments and computer modeling to study the structure, nature, physical and chemical properties of metals and their alloys, as well as responses to applied forces. They also determine ways to combine or strengthen materials or develop new ones to use in other applications and products.

Though conducting experiments and doing research is a large part of their job, they must often prepare reports, proposals, manuscripts, and other technical manuals for their customers, sponsors, and other scientists. For instance, once these scientists determine how to make an improvement or developed a new product or application, they must also provide a report showing proof of the feasibility of techniques and processes used in the production of the material.

Free Teacher and Student Resources

The offers a free Fundamentals of Manufacturing Processes course on (opens in a new tab) with the option to pay a small fee receive a verified certificate upon completion of the course.

By taking this course, you’ll learn:

  • Manufacturing processes in detail: machining, injection molding, casting, thermoforming, sheet metal forming, 3D printing, and more.
  • Overarching principles: rate, quality, cost, flexibility, sustainability.
  • How to apply design for manufacturing principles, plan a multi-step process, and envision an automated manufacturing system for complex products.
  • Emerging technologies including robotics, connected machines, and their implications on the future of manufacturing.

Materials Scientist Career Video

Whether developing a new type of shatterproof glass for phone screens, or a heat-resistant compound to support Mars mission equipment, materials engineers and materials scientists have their fingerprints all over innovations in the industry. While both develop new products and improve existing ones, materials scientists focus on the structure and properties of materials, while materials engineers apply that knowledge to develop products. Both usually specialize in a principal material, such as ceramics, glass, metal, or semiconductors.

Materials scientists improve materials such as metallic alloys or superconducting materials so that products can have features and functions that are not possible previously. They also develop new materials. Materials scientists conduct experiments and analyze their results. Materials engineers select materials for specific products and develop new ways to use existing materials, continuously designing improvements. They prepare proposals and budgets, analyze labor costs, and may supervise technologists and technicians.

These professionals team up with other specialists, and generally work in offices, manufacturing facilities, or research and development labs. A bachelor’s degree in materials science, engineering or a related field… is needed for entry-level jobs. Materials scientists may also major in chemistry or physics, and may need a master’s degree or a Ph.D. and significant work experience to qualify for some jobs. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as a college-level teacher or to do research and development.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Materials Scientist.

National Center for O*NET Development. 19-2032.00. O*NET OnLine. This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA. RethinkOldSchool, Inc. has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

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