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Career profile Materials Engineer

Also known as Extrusion Engineer, Materials Development Engineer, Materials Engineer, Materials Research Engineer, Metallurgical Engineer, Metallurgist, Research Engineer, Test Engineer

Materials Engineer

Also known as Extrusion Engineer, Materials Development Engineer, Materials Engineer

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$57,970 - $154,340 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Science
Knowledge Areas
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
Core tasks
  • Analyze product failure data and laboratory test results to determine causes of problems and develop solutions.
  • Design and direct the testing or control of processing procedures.
  • Monitor material performance and evaluate material deterioration.
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What does a Materials Engineer do?

Materials Engineers evaluate materials and develop machinery and processes to manufacture materials for use in products that must meet specialized design and performance specifications.

In addition, Materials Engineers

  • develop new uses for known materials,
  • includes those engineers working with composite materials or specializing in one type of material, such as graphite, metal and metal alloys, ceramics and glass, plastics and polymers, and naturally occurring materials,
  • includes metallurgists and metallurgical engineers, ceramic engineers, and welding engineers.

What kind of tasks does a Materials Engineer perform regularly?

Materials Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Analyze product failure data and laboratory test results to determine causes of problems and develop solutions.
  • Design and direct the testing or control of processing procedures.
  • Monitor material performance and evaluate material deterioration.
  • Conduct or supervise tests on raw materials or finished products to ensure their quality.
  • Evaluate technical specifications and economic factors relating to process or product design objectives.
  • Modify properties of metal alloys, using thermal and mechanical treatments.
  • Determine appropriate methods for fabricating and joining materials.
  • Guide technical staff in developing materials for specific uses in projected products or devices.
  • Review new product plans and make recommendations for material selection, based on design objectives, such as strength, weight, heat resistance, electrical conductivity, and cost.
  • Supervise the work of technologists, technicians, and other engineers and scientists.
  • Plan and implement laboratory operations to develop material and fabrication procedures that meet cost, product specification, and performance standards.
  • Plan and evaluate new projects, consulting with other engineers and corporate executives as necessary.
  • Supervise production and testing processes in industrial settings, such as metal refining facilities, smelting or foundry operations, or nonmetallic materials production operations.
  • Solve problems in a number of engineering fields, such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, civil, nuclear, and aerospace.
  • Conduct training sessions on new material products, applications, or manufacturing methods for customers and their employees.
  • Perform managerial functions, such as preparing proposals and budgets, analyzing labor costs, and writing reports.
  • Present technical information at conferences.
  • Replicate the characteristics of materials and their components with computers.
  • Design processing plants and equipment.
  • Write for technical magazines, journals, and trade association publications.

The above responsibilities are specific to Materials Engineers. More generally, Materials Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What is a Materials Engineer salary?

The median salary for a Materials Engineer is $95,640, and the average salary is $100,550. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Materials Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Materials Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Materials Engineers earn less than $57,970 per year, 25% earn less than $73,950, 75% earn less than $123,590, and 90% earn less than $154,340.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Materials Engineers is expected to change by 8.4%, and there should be roughly 1,800 open positions for Materials Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$57,970 - $154,340
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Materials Engineers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Materials Engineer are usually higher in their Investigative, Realistic, and Enterprising interests.

Materials Engineers typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Materials Engineers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Materials Engineers typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Materials Engineer tend to value Support, Working Conditions, and Independence.

Most importantly, Materials Engineers strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Materials Engineers strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Materials Engineers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Materials Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, analytical thinking, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Materials Engineers, ranked by importance:

Job requires being honest and ethical.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

What education and training do Materials Engineers need?

Many Materials Engineers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Materials Engineers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Materials Engineers

  • 0.6% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 4.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 9.9% completed some college coursework
  • 9.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 50.6% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 19.0% earned a Master's degree
  • 6.4% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Materials Engineers

Materials Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as engineering and technology, chemistry, or physics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Materials Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Important Abilities needed by Materials Engineers

Materials Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Materials Engineers need abilities such as oral comprehension, written comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Materials Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Critical Skills needed by Materials Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Materials Engineers frequently use skills like reading comprehension, active listening, and science to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Materials Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Complex Problem Solving
Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.