Materials Scientists

Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics > Science and Mathematics

Projected Growth: Slower than average

Projected Job Openings

Extensive Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to 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.

Common job titles of Materials Scientists include:

Experience and Education

Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.

  • 35.42% said they needed a Bachelor's Degree.

  • 33.33% said they needed a Doctoral Degree.

Tasks & Responsibilities

Wondering what Materials Scientists REALLY do throughout a day at work? Perhaps you should know what you’ll be doing all day before pursuing a career. So here are some tasks that Materials Scientists can be found doing during the work day. Hover over each task for information about relevance and importance. Scroll further to find a list of other careers that have similar tasks.

Essential Tasks

    Perform experiments and computer modeling to study the nature, structure, and physical and chemical properties of metals and their alloys, and their responses to applied forces.

    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.

    Teach in colleges and universities.

Regular Tasks

    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.

    Research methods of processing, forming, and firing materials to develop such products as ceramic dental fillings, unbreakable dinner plates, and telescope lenses.

    Plan laboratory experiments to confirm feasibility of processes and techniques used in the production of materials with special characteristics.

    Supervise and monitor production processes to ensure efficient use of equipment, timely changes to specifications, and project completion within time frame and budget.

    Prepare reports, manuscripts, proposals, and technical manuals for use by other scientists and requestors, such as sponsors and customers.

    Test material samples for tolerance under tension, compression, and shear to determine the cause of metal failures.

    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.

Occasional Tasks

    Visit suppliers of materials or users of products to gather specific information.

    Recommend materials for reliable performance in various environments.

    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.

    Devise testing methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials.

What Tools and Technologies do Materials Scientists use?

The future of work is gonna be… techy🤖. No matter the career path, you’ll have to understand what the experts use to get the job done. Employers want to see practical experience with these tools and technologies. Use these lists to figure out what tools you need to learn and see trends about up and coming tech. Scroll further to find a list of other careers that use similar tools.


X ray generators

X ray diffractometers

Vibratory polishers

Vibrating sample magnetometers

UV exposure chambers

Ultrasonic cleaners

Ultrasonic analyzers

All Tools

Ultraprecision lathes

Ultra microbalances

Ultra high temperature furnaces

Tube furnaces

Transmission electron microscopes TEM

Titanium autoclaves

Theta-theta diffractometers

Thermal spray torches

Thermal gravimetric analyzers

Tape casters

Swaging tools

Stylus profilometers

Stereo microscopes

Static actuators

Sputter deposition systems

Spectrum analyzers



Sonic modulus testers

Slurry abrasion testers

Shaker ball mills

Servohydraulic test machines

Semiautomatic grinders



Secondary ion mass spectrometers SIMS

Screw injection molding machines

Scratch testers

Scanning tunneling microscopes STM

Scanning probe microscopes SPM

Scanning Kelvin probes

Scanning electron microscopes SEM

Salt spray chambers

Safety goggles

Safety glasses

Rotational viscometers

Reactive ion etchers RIE

Raman scattering spectroscopes

Quartz crystal thickness monitors

Quartz crystal microbalances


Programmable logic controllers PLC



Pore sizers

Plate viscometers

Plasma arc melting furnaces

Petrographic microscopes

Personal computers

Peltier cooled solid-state detectors

Optical profilometers

Optical compound microscopes

Nitrogen furnaces

Neutron reflectometers

Nanoscope atomic force microscopes

Multisample autoclaves

Muffle furnaces

Mossbauer spectroscopes

Mobile mass spectrometers

Microscope digital cameras


Metallographic microscopes

Metal evaporation chambers

Manual grinders

Macrohardness testers

Load cells

Linear variable differential transformers LVDT

Laser interferometers

Laptop computers

Laboratory water purification systems

Laboratory analytical balances

Ion analyzers

Interferometric microscopes

Injection molding machines

Industrial computed tomography CT scanners

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers ICP-MS

Induction furnaces

Impact testers

Imaging ellipsometers

Hydraulic presses

Hot mounting presses

Hot isostatic presses

Horizontal tube furnaces

High-vacuum manifolds

High-speed cutoff saws

High vacuum evaporation systems

Grinding spindles

Glove box systems

Gas chromatograph mass spectrometers GC-MS

Gamma ray spectrometers

Function generators

Fume hoods

Freeze dryers

Fourier transform infrared FTIR spectrometers

Field emission scanning electron microscopes

Extruding machines

Erosion testers


Electrolytic etching machines

Electrode furnaces

Dynamic mechanical analyzers DMA

Dynamic light scattering equipment

Dynamic actuators

Double push rod dilatometers


Digital oscilloscopes

Differential thermal analyzers

Differential scanning calorimeters

Dielectric spectrometers

Diamond wafering saws

Desktop computers

Crystal growers

Creep testing equipment

Contact angle goniometers

Cone viscometers

Computerized numerical control CNC machining centers

Cold isostatic presses

Charge-coupled device CCD cameras

Capillary rheometers

Capacitance manometers

Box furnaces


Ball-on-disk tribometers

Ball mills

Backscatter detectors

Auger electron spectrometers

Atomic force microscopes

Atomic absorption AA spectroscopes

Annealing ovens



IBM SPSS Statistics

National Instruments LabVIEW


The MathWorks MATLAB

Accelrys Materials Studio

Advanced Chemistry Development Analytical Laboratory


All Technologies

ANSYS Multiphysics

Bruker AXS EVA



Chempute Software HSC Chemistry

Dassault Systemes Abaqus

ESM Software CrystalMaker


General Structural Analysis System GSAS

International Centre for Diffraction Data ICDD DDView

Maplesoft Maple

Materials Data Incorporated Jade

Multichannel microelectrode analyzer MMA software

Olympus Image Analysis

PANalytical X’Pert Data Collector

PANalytical X’Pert Epitaxy



SolidWorks COSMOSWorks

Stewart Computational Chemistry MOPAC


Wolfram Research Mathematica

What Skills Do Materials Scientists Need to Have?

Let’s be real… take a look in the mirror! Do you have the what it takes to join the other Materials Scientists? The Skills? The Ability to succeed? If so, and you enjoy using these skills, then this job is for you. If not, GOOD NEWS, you can always pick up a new skill if you’re willing to put in the effort 💪



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.


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.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Active Learning

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

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 mathematics to solve problems.


Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Operations Analysis

Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.


Teaching others how to do something.

Learning Strategies

Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

Social Perceptiveness

Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.


Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

Systems Analysis

Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Time Management

Managing one's own time and the time of others.


Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Written Comprehension

Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Expression

Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Comprehension

Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Problem Sensitivity

Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Deductive Reasoning

Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Written Expression

Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Inductive Reasoning

Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Category Flexibility

Generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Originality

Come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Quantitative Abilities › Mathematical Reasoning

Choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Perceptual Abilities › Flexibility of Closure

Identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.

Everything Materials Scientists Should Know…

Materials Scientists typically have vast knowledge of the subjects below. Think about this a lot… if you’re not a fan of the subjects, chances are this career isn’t for you. But, there’s plenty of time to learn and continue to learn throughout your career 🎓



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.

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 of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

English Language

Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Computers and Electronics

Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.


Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.


Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

Production and Processing

Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

Education and Training

Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Real People, Real Stories

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