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Materials Scientists

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What Do Materials Scientists Do?

Job Description & Duties Research and study the structures and chemical properties of various natural and synthetic or composite materials, including metals, alloys, rubber, ceramics, semiconductors, polymers, and glass. Determine ways to strengthen or combine materials or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications. Includes glass scientists, ceramic scientists, metallurgical scientists, and polymer scientists.

A Day in the Life of a Materials Scientist

  • Test 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.
  • Test individual parts and products to ensure that manufacturer and governmental quality and safety standards are met.
  • Confer with customers to determine how to tailor materials to their needs.
  • Conduct 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.
  • Devise testing methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials.
  • Visit suppliers of materials or users of products to gather specific information.

Qualities of a Materials Scientist

When polled, Materials Scientists say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Science: Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Other Materials Scientist Job Titles

  • Technology Officer
  • Senior Materials Scientist
  • Staff Research Scientist
  • Material Scientist
  • Plastics Scientist

Materials Scientist Job Outlook

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 7,900 jobs in the United States for Materials Scientists.

New jobs are being produced at a rate of 7.1% which is lower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 600 new jobs for Materials Scientists by 2026. The BLS estimates 800 yearly job openings in this field per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Materials Scientists in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Materials Scientists are California, Ohio, and Massachusetts.

Watch out if you plan on working in Illinois, Washington, or Tennessee. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

What is the Average Salary of a Materials Scientist

Materials Scientists Make between $52,560 and $159,970 a year. A Materials Scientist median salary is $99,800.

Salary Ranges for Materials Scientists

How much do Materials Scientists make in each U.S. state?

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary

New Mexico










North Carolina






New Hampshire






New Jersey








New York




























South Carolina






What Tools & Technology do Materials Scientists Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Materials Scientists:

  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • R
  • Microsoft Word
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • Microsoft Excel
  • IBM SPSS Statistics
  • National Instruments LabVIEW

Where Materials Scientists Work

Materials Scientist Sectors

Those interested in being a Materials Scientist may also be interested in:

  • Natural Sciences Managers
  • Food Scientists and Technologists
  • Hydrologists

Career changers with experience as a Materials Scientist sometimes find work in one of the following fields:

  • Biochemists and Biophysicists


Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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