Materials Science Engineering Careers…Innovation at Work!

The field of materials science engineering offers incredible opportunity in terms of both a career and earnings.  In fact, this is one of the highest paying jobs you can hold with a Bachelor’s Degree. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, materials engineers earn an average starting salary of $57,349.

There are several different name versions used for this profession including materials engineer and  materials scientist.  Though the exact title may vary, the job duties may include the following.

  • Study material behavior at the cellular level
  • Develop new materials for use in manufacturing
  • Work with a variety of materials including metals, polymers and semiconductors to name a few
  • Conduct research on the development of new materials
  • Work with nanotechnology
  • Work in biotechnology field
  • Product design
  • Microelectronics

Researching and developing new materials is a rapidly expanding field. Biotechnology and nanotechnology are wide open interest areas with plenty of opportunity for employment in industry and research labs. This is a career that requires innovative thinking and maintenance of state-of-the-art knowledge.

It is not a surprise that the salary paid to those working in this field is so high considering the skill and knowledge needed that cross disciplines. A materials scientist is educated in subjects like biology, physics, chemistry, technology, and computer software as a minimum.

Growing Field That Will Only Keep Expanding

The current employment growth projection is 9 percent for 2008 to 2018 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. There is a good possibility that growth will exceed expectations though as technology continues to expand at a rapid rate in areas like nanotechnology and development of composite materials.

The average salary range for all materials science engineers is $51,420 to $124,470 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If you decide this is a good career for you the industries with some of the highest employment levels include aerospace, engineering, biotechnology and semiconductor chip manufacturing.  As you can see there is a varied need for materials engineers.

A minimum of a bachelors degree is required to be a materials engineer because of the in-depth knowledge required to do the job. But a large number of people continue their education and get their masters or doctorate degrees.  You can also specialize in a particular area of study at the graduate level. The level of education impacts the amount you can earn. For example, here are some PayScale recent average salary figures for those with degrees in general material science:

  • Bachelor of Science | $52,000 to $71,000
  • Master of Science |$59,000 to $82,000
  • Doctorate | $78,000 to $110,000

One of the main things affecting salary is years of experience. The more experience you have the more you will earn. For example, a person with less than one year of experience is earning approximately $50,000 while someone with 10 years of experience is earning a minimum average annual salary of $74,000.  Once you have 10 years of experience, you become quite valuable to employers.

Where You Work Matters

Where you live and work does affect pay also. A materials scientist working in New York generally earns more than one working in Florida or Ohio. The pay difference can be fairly significant too.  In New York the materials engineer earns between $62,000 and $92,000. In Ohio the materials engineer earns an average salary of $52,000 to $71,000.

The city of employment matters too. The salary range in Orlando, Florida is $57,000 to $92,000.  The salary range in Cleveland is $46,000 to $60,000. That is quite a difference! Other high paying cities include Houston and Los Angeles. Before deciding where to seek employment, it’s beneficial to research the average salaries paid in the geographical locations of interest.

Career Options

Materials engineering is a big field of study and so many people choose to specialize.  For example, you may decide to concentrate  on:

  • Metallurgy
  • Materials production
  • Materials manufacturing
  • Materials research

You can earn a Professional Engineers license with a degree, four years of work experience and a passing grade on a state exam. Becoming a Certified Materials Engineer is an excellent credential that can boost your salary even higher. There are a number of professional organizations that offer nationally recognized certification programs.

The wide choice of materials science engineering careers appeals to people interested in this field of study. After gaining hands-on experience a number of engineers become consultants working by the hour or on a project basis.

Because this field works with the development of new materials, there are even job opportunities in the patent law industry.

Materials science is a discipline that is constantly expanding as science and technology advance. The excitement of creating new materials and putting them to use in products beneficial to people attracts some of the most intelligent and innovative people.  Does this sound like a description of you? If so, you can become a materials science engineer and enjoy a great career making an excellent salary.