Materials Engineers
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Overview
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Evaluate materials and develop machinery and processes to manufacture materials for use in products that must meet specialized design and performance specifications. 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.
Titles for this career often contain these words
EngineerMaterialsMetallurgistResearchCeramicDesignTestFoundryProcessMetallurgicalAutomationCeramicsCorrosionExtractiveFailureAnalysisTechnicianForensicGlassScienceGreenBuildingDesignerMaterialAnalystProcessesManagerBranchChiefDevelopmentMetallographerSpecialistNanotechnologistPhysicalPlasticsPlatingProjectRefiningSmeltingStressSupplierQualitySQETestingWelding
Education
About 75% of materials engineers have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by materials engineers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More materials engineers have bachelor's degrees than 82% of other careeers.
Employment
Workforce size
Materials engineers, with 27,700 workers, form a smaller workforce than 67% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for materials engineers are expected to grow by 0%, and should have about 1,700 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Materials engineers are less likely to be automated than 86% of other careers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for materials engineers compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most materials engineers earn.
$93K$0$50K$100K$150K
Gender
Women account for 13% of materials engineers -- that's a smaller percentage than 76% of other jobs.
Gender of materials engineers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For materials engineers, the median men's salary was 1% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 23% of materials engineers are minority, and 20% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of materials engineers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (20%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Materials Engineers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Benefits
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of materials engineers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (57%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (49%)
  • Consequence of Error (37%)
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions (34%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (31%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do materials engineers earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries. This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for materials engineers (BLS Salary Data)
$93K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$93K$0$50K$100K$150K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for materials engineers (ACS Salary Data)
$83K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$83K$0$50K$100K$150K
Materials Engineers: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $85KAll jobs' median $45K$87K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$50K$100K$150K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire materials engineers.
Employers of Materials Engineers (ACS)
Private for-profit (94.5%)
Private not-for-profit (1.0%)
Local government (0.3%)
State government (0.5%)
Federal government (2.2%)
Self-employed incorporated (1.1%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.4%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of materials engineers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$83K$83K$82K$94K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Federal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of materials engineers by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$93K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for materials engineers

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$95K$80K$56K$100K$93K$94K$68K$92K$83K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
02K4K6K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Materials engineers and gender

With 13% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 76% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
13%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Materials engineers
Men (87%)
Women (13%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is better for materials engineers, with the median salary for men only 0.6% higher than the median salary for women.

$82K$83K$0$50K$100K$150KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men. Materials engineers have one of the smaller inequity calculations, with the increase for men's median salary over women's median salary in this job lower than that for 90% of other jobs.

1%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of materials engineers

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a higher percentage of minority materials engineers than for 62% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of materials engineers
White (76% )
Asian (15% )
Black (5% )
Multiracial (2% )
Other (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
23%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
20%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for materials engineers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$74K$82K$85K$91K$0$50K$100K$150KOtherWhiteBlackAsian
Distribution: Salaries for materials engineers by nativity
$81K$93K$0$50K$100K$150KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Materials engineers and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 2% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 94% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
2%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

We only have enough data to accuarately show the salary distribution for full-time workers.

$83K$0$50K$100K$150KFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by materials engineers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), materials engineers typically hold a bachelor's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as materials engineers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for materials engineers

Students interested in studying materials engineering should take high school courses in math, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; in science, such as biology, chemistry, and physics; and in computer programming.

Entry-level jobs as a materials engineer require a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degree programs include classroom and laboratory work focusing on engineering principles.

Some colleges and universities offer a 5-year program leading to both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as a postsecondary teacher or to do research and development.

Many colleges and universities offer internships and cooperative programs in partnership with industry. In these programs, students gain practical experience while completing their education.

Many engineering programs are accredited by ABET. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have graduated from an accredited program. A degree from an ABET-accredited program is usually necessary to become a licensed professional engineer.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for materials engineers

Licensure for materials engineers is not as common as it is for other engineering occupations, nor it is required for entry-level positions. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE).

Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.

Certification in the field of metallography, the science and art of dealing with the structure of metals and alloys, is available through ASM International and other materials science organizations.

Additional training in fields directly related to metallurgy and materials’ properties, such as corrosion or failure analysis, is available through ASM International.

Education attained by materials engineers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for materials engineers? Below we see the distribution of materials engineers salaries based on the education attained.

$74K$67K$77K$72K$81K$101K$116K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KNone (1%)High School (5%)Some College (11%)Associate's/Cert. (8%)Bachelor's Degree (52%)Master's Degree (18%)Doctorate (5%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

College majors held by materials engineers

This table shows the college majors held by people working as materials engineers.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Percentage of Materials engineers with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
The link between degrees and careers

With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as materials engineers, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.

Mechanical EngineersSpecialized EngineersSpecialized ManagersArchitectural and Enginee...Industrial and Health/Saf...Software DevelopersCivil EngineersAerospace EngineersChief executives and legi...Project Management Specia...Electrical and electronic...Computer and Information ...Computer ProgrammersChemical EngineersPostsecondary TeachersSpecialized Physical Scie...PhysiciansManagement AnalystsGeneral and Operations Ma...Industrial Production Man...Wholesale and Manufacturi...Materials EngineersChemists and materials sc...Elementary and Middle Sch...Specialized Life Scientis...PharmacistsDentistsSecondary School TeachersFirst-Line Supervisors of...First-Line Supervisors of...Construction ManagersAccountants and AuditorsFinancial ManagersFirst-Line Supervisors of...Labor Relations Specialis...Customer Service Represen...Mechanical EngineeringElectrical EngineeringChemical EngineeringGeneral EngineeringIndustrial andManufacturing EngineeringMaterialsEngineering/ScienceChemistryMaterials Engineering andMaterials ScienceIndustrial ProductionTechnologiesBusiness Management andAdministrationAll other degreesThis jobTop 10 majorsEach major's top ten jobs
What college major is your best entry?

About 75% of people working as materials engineers have at least a bachelor's degree. Each dot represents a college major leading to these jobs, with the dots to the right representing the majors sending the most of their grads into this career. The dots at the top are the majors who earn the most working in this career.

Darker colors have a larger percentage with graduate degreesOverall median salary0.0%2.0%4.0%6.0%8.0%10.0%12.0%14.0%16.0%18.0%Percentage with this major$40,000$50,000$60,000$70,000$80,000$90,000$100,000$110,000$120,000$130,000$140,000Median salary with this major
Switching Careers
The most common next careers for materials engineers

What jobs will most materials engineers hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of materials engineers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Materials EngineersSpecialized EngineersMechanical EngineersIndustrial and Health/Safety EngineersElectrical and electronics engineersAerospace EngineersEngineering Technologists and TechniciansDraftersInspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and WeighersChemical TechniciansChemical EngineersCivil EngineersSpecialized Physical ScientistsElementary and Middle School School TeachersBiomedical and agricultural engineersCredit AnalystsPetroleum, mining, mining safety, and geological engineersMarketing and sales managersFood Preparation WorkersSpecialized production workers, including computer-controlled tooloperatorsntsAcsOcc_1550Stockers and Order Fillers
Lateral job transitions for materials engineers

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 10 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as materials engineers as well as 1% of respondents after working as materials engineers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Prior and next careers for materials engineers: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as materials engineers? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of materials engineers surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most materials engineers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as materials engineers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Materials Engineers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.10.20.30.40.5
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where materials engineers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for materials engineers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for materials engineers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Materials Engineers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which materials engineers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
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$0$50K$100K$150K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?