Summary Report for:
17-2131.00 - Materials Engineers
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.
Sample of reported job titles: Materials and Processes Manager, Materials Branch Chief, Materials Development Engineer, Materials Engineer, Materials Research Engineer, Metallurgical Engineer, Metallurgist, Process Engineer, Research Engineer, Test Engineer
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- Analyze product failure data and laboratory test results to determine causes of problems and develop solutions.
- Conduct or supervise tests on raw materials or finished products to ensure their quality.
- Plan and implement laboratory operations for the purpose of developing material and fabrication procedures that meet cost, product specification, and performance standards.
- Design and direct the testing or control of processing procedures.
- Monitor material performance and evaluate material deterioration.
- Perform managerial functions, such as preparing proposals and budgets, analyzing labor costs, and writing reports.
- Plan and evaluate new projects, consulting with other engineers and corporate executives as necessary.
- Guide technical staff engaged in developing materials for specific uses in projected products or devices.
- 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.
- Solve problems in a number of engineering fields, such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, civil, nuclear, and aerospace.
- Supervise production and testing processes in industrial settings, such as metal refining facilities, smelting or foundry operations, or nonmetallic materials production operations.
- Teach in colleges and universities.
- Replicate the characteristics of materials and their components with computers.
- Design processing plants and equipment.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Abrasion testers
- Ageing ovens — Accelerated weathering machines; Solar simulators
- Analytical balances — Magnetic susceptibility balances
- Atomic absorption AA spectrometers — Atomic absorption AA spectrophotometers
- Benchtop centrifuges
- Binocular light compound microscopes — Binocular compound microscopes; Optical compound microscopes
- Borescope inspection equipment — Fiberscopes
- Bubble columns — Flotation columns
- Calorimeters — Adiabatic bomb calorimeters; Differential scanning calorimeters
- Chromatographic scanners — Gel permeation chromatographs GPC
- Colorimeters — Spectrocolorimeters
- Compression testers — Compression testing machines; Screw-driven test machines
- Concrete or cement testing instruments — Concrete test hammers; Freeze-thaw test units; Stabilometers
- Coordinate measuring machines CMM
- Crucible furnaces — Melt spinners
- Depth gauges — Pit depth gauges
- Digital cameras
- Drying cabinets or ovens — Drying ovens
- Electromagnetic field meters — Gauss meters
- Electron microscopes — Electron microprobe analyzers EMPA
- Electronic toploading balances
- Fatigue testers — Servohydraulic test machines
- Filtering machinery — Filter presses
- Flow transmitters — Oscillating water tunnels; Wind tunnels
- Flowmeters — Laser Doppler velocimeters LDV
- Fume hoods or cupboards — Fume hoods
- Gas chromatographs — Gas chromatographs GC
- Graphic recorders — Current versus voltage IV curve tracers
- Grinders — Lapping wheels
- Grinding or polishing machines — Attritors; Polishing machines
- Gyratory crushers
- Hardness testers — Durometers
- Heated walk in environmental or growth chambers — Heated walk-in environmental chambers
- High pressure liquid chromatograph chromatography — High pressure liquid chromatograph HPLC equipment
- High vacuum combustion apparatus — Microwave sintering furnaces; Plasma-arc furnaces; Rotating furnaces
- Homogenizers — Ultrasonic dismembrators; Ultrasonicators
- Horizontal turning center — Computerized numerical control CNC lathes
- Hydraulic press frames — Hydraulic presses
- Immersion circulators — Ultrasonic baths
- Impact testers — Charpy impact testers; Drop weight impact towers
- Impedance meters — Acoustic impediography equipment
- Induction dryers — Solvent dryers
- Infrared dryers — Ultraviolet UV exposure units
- Infrared imagers — Infrared cameras; Infrared monitors
- Infrared spectrometers — Fourier transform infrared FTIR spectroscopes; Optical emission spectrometers
- Injection molding machines
- Ion exchange apparatus — Deionizers
- Isolation glove boxes — Laboratory glove boxes
- Jaw crushers
- Laboratory balances — Specific gravity balances
- Laboratory blenders or emulsifiers — Hot blenders; Laboratory blenders; Slurry blenders
- Laboratory box furnaces — Inert atmosphere box furnaces; Muffle furnaces
- Laboratory burets — Water burets
- Laboratory crushers or pulverizers — Laboratory pulverizers; Laboratory sample splitters; Sample presses
- Laboratory evaporators — Vacuum evaporators
- Laboratory microwave ovens
- Laboratory mills — Ball mills; Jar mills; Rod mills
- Laboratory mixers — Counter-current mixers
- Laboratory separators — Electrostatic separators; High tension separators; Isodynamic separators; Magnetic separators
- Laboratory vacuum pumps — Molecular pumps
- Lasers — Solid state laser systems
- Leak testing equipment — Gas detectors
- Linear position sensors — Linear variable differential transformers LVDT
- Load frame — Load frames
- Mass spectrometers
- Metal band sawing machine — Band saws
- Metal testing instruments — Adhesion testers
- Optical diffraction apparatus — Particle size analyzers
- Optical vacuum coating equipment — Vacuum coating systems
- Orbital shakers — Mechanical sieve shakers
- Orbital shaking water baths — Temperature regulated shaking water baths
- Oscilloscopes — Digitizing oscilloscopes
- Permeability testing apparatus — Permeability measuring devices
- Personal computers
- pH meters — pH testers
- Photo attachments for microscopes — Microscope photo attachments
- Photometers — Flame photometers
- Plaster or mortar mixers — Cement mixers
- Pneumatic sanding machines — Sanding machines
- Polarizing microscopes
- Porosimeters — Porosity indicators
- Portable data input terminals — Dataloggers
- Positioning jig — Holding jigs
- Power saws — Masonry cutters; Water-cooled saws
- Programmable tube furnaces — Graphite element furnaces
- Protective gloves — Safety gloves
- Roll crushers
- Safety glasses
- Scanning electron microscopes — Scanning electron microscopes SEM
- Scanning probe microscopes — Atomic force microscopes
- Semiconductor process systems — Etching equipment; Micromanipulators
- Spectrofluorimeters or fluorimeters — X ray fluorescence XRF analyzers; X ray fluorescence XRF spectrometers
- Spectrometers — Energy dispersive x-ray spectrometers EDS
- Steam autoclaves or sterilizers — Microwave autoclaves; Steam autoclaves
- Stereo or dissecting light microscopes — Stereo microscopes
- Strain gauges
- Tensiometers — Tension gauges
- Tension testers — High temperature material testing systems; High-vacuum tensile testing chambers; Tensile testers
- Test sieves — Laboratory test sieves
- Thermal differential analyzers — Differential thermal analyzers; Thermal analysis systems
- Thermo gravimetry analyzers — Thermogravimetric analyzers
- Thickness measuring devices — Film thickness measurement systems
- Tracer or duplicating or contouring lathe — Lathes
- Traveling column milling machine — Computer numerical controlled CNC milling machines
- Tube furnaces — Microwave tube furnaces
- Twin screw extruder — Balling drums; Twin screw extruders; Twin-screw extruders
- Ultrasonic examination equipment — Ultrasound inspection equipment
- Vacuum ovens — Vacuum furnaces
- Vibration testers — Vibration analysis equipment
- Vibratory plates — Kneading compactors
- Viscosimeters — Viscosity meters
- Water conditioners — Liquid conditioners
- Wear testers — Friction and wear testers
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — ANSYS Multiphysics; Fault detection isolation and recovery FDIR software; Image analysis systems; Minitab software (see all 5 examples)
- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD software; Dassault Systemes CATIA software; PTC Creo Parametric
- Computer aided manufacturing CAM software — Fused deposition modeling FDM rapid prototyping systems; Stereolithography SLA rapid prototyping systems
- Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software; MTS Testworks; QMC CM4D
- Development environment software — Formula translation/translator FORTRAN; Microsoft Visual Basic; National Instruments LabVIEW
- Electronic mail software — IBM Notes; Microsoft Outlook
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software — SAP software
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Graphics software; Microsoft Visio
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Object or component oriented development software — C++; Microsoft Visual Basic.NET
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Project management software — Microsoft SharePoint software
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
- 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.
- Chemistry — 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.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Physics — 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.
- 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.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- 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.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Monitoring — 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.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Instructing — 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.
- Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- 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).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- 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.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
Detailed Work Activities
- Prepare operational reports.
- Direct design or development activities.
- Test characteristics of materials or structures.
- Prepare detailed work plans.
- Recommend technical design or process changes to improve efficiency, quality, or performance.
- Supervise engineering or other technical personnel.
- Evaluate plans or specifications to determine technological or environmental implications.
- Resolve operational performance problems.
- Design industrial processing systems.
- Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans.
- Prepare proposal documents.
- Train personnel on proper operational procedures.
- Determine operational methods.
- Create models of engineering designs or methods.
- Monitor the productivity or efficiency of industrial operations.
- Evaluate technical data to determine effect on designs or plans.
- Direct quality control activities.
- Conduct quantitative failure analyses of operational data.
- Direct industrial production activities.
- Prepare project budgets.
- Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 69% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 62% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 79% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 54% responded “Very important.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 59% responded “Some freedom.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 49% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 46% responded “Very important.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 54% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 67% responded “Some freedom.”
- Contact With Others — 33% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Letters and Memos — 49% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 46% responded “Moderate results.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 47% responded “More than half the time.”
- Time Pressure — 54% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 28% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 44% responded “Very important.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 36% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Consequence of Error — 37% responded “Serious.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 38% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Level of Competition — 41% responded “Moderately competitive.”
|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, database administrators, teachers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: IRE
- Investigative — 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.
- Realistic — 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.
- Enterprising — 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.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2014)||$42.16 hourly, $87,690 annual|
|Employment (2014)||25,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Little or no change (-1% to 1%)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||9,200|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Materials engineers . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) , 111 Market Pl., Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202. Phone: (410) 347-7700. Fax: (410) 625-2238.
- ASM International , 9639 Kinsman Rd., Materials Park, OH 44073-0002. Phone: (800) 336-5152.
- Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS) , 184 Thorn Hill Rd., Warrendale, PA 15086-7514. Phone: (800) 759-4867.