Materials Engineers
17-2131.00

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: Extrusion Engineer, Materials Development Engineer, Materials Engineer, Materials Research Engineer, Metallurgical Engineer, Metallurgist, Research Engineer, Test Engineer

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Analyze product failure data and laboratory test results to determine causes of problems and develop solutions.
  • Design and direct the testing or control of processing procedures.
  • Monitor material performance, and evaluate its deterioration.
  • Conduct or supervise tests on raw materials or finished products to ensure their quality.
  • 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.
  • Guide technical staff in developing materials for specific uses in projected products or devices.
  • 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.
  • Plan and implement laboratory operations to develop material and fabrication procedures that meet cost, product specification, and performance standards.
  • Plan and evaluate new projects, consulting with other engineers and corporate executives, as necessary.
  • Supervise production and testing processes in industrial settings, such as metal refining facilities, smelting or foundry operations, or nonmetallic materials production operations.
  • Solve problems in a number of engineering fields, such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, civil, nuclear, and aerospace.
  • Conduct training sessions on new material products, applications, or manufacturing methods for customers and their employees.
  • Perform managerial functions, such as preparing proposals and budgets, analyzing labor costs, and writing reports.
  • Present technical information at conferences.
  • Replicate the characteristics of materials and their components, using computers.
  • Design processing plants and equipment.
  • Write for technical magazines, journals, and trade association publications.
  • Teach in colleges and universities.

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Technology Skills

  • Analytical or scientific software — ANSYS Multiphysics; Image analysis systems; Minitab; The MathWorks MATLAB Hot technology ; 3 more
  • Cloud-based data access and sharing software — Microsoft SharePoint Hot technology
  • Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD Hot technology ; Dassault Systemes CATIA; Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Hot technology ; 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 — Microsoft Access Hot technology ; MTS Testworks; Oracle Database Hot technology ; QMC CM4D
  • Development environment software — Formula translation/translator FORTRAN; Microsoft Visual Basic Hot technology ; National Instruments LabVIEW
  • Electronic mail software — IBM Notes; Microsoft Outlook Hot technology
  • Enterprise resource planning ERP software — SAP software Hot technology
  • Graphics or photo imaging software — Graphics software
  • Internet browser software — Web browser software
  • Object or component oriented development software — C++ Hot technology ; Microsoft Visual Basic.NET; Python Hot technology
  • Office suite software — Microsoft Office software In-Demand Hot technology
  • Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint In-Demand Hot technology
  • Process mapping and design software — Microsoft Visio Hot technology
  • Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel In-Demand Hot technology
  • Word processing software — Microsoft Word Hot technology
Hot technology
Hot Technologies are requirements most frequently included across all employer job postings.
In demand
In Demand skills are frequently included in employer job postings for this occupation.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • 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.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • 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.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Communicating with People Outside the 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.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • 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.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
  • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
  • Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
  • Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 67% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 76% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 57% responded “Very important.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 55% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 62% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Telephone — 43% responded “Every day.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 57% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 67% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 38% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Contact With Others — 48% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 43% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 48% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Spend Time Sitting — 40% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 38% responded “Very important.”
  • Time Pressure — 57% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Level of Competition — 48% responded “Moderately competitive.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 35% responded “Important results.”
  • Letters and Memos — 38% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Deal With External Customers — 43% responded “Important.”

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

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 real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, conservation scientists, art directors, and cost estimators.
SVP Range
2-4 years of preparation (7.0 to < 8.0)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • 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.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  • Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing — 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.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
  • 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.
  • Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • 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.

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Knowledge

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • 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.
  • Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 48%
     
    responded: Bachelor’s degree required
  • 33%
     
    responded: Doctoral degree requiredmore info
  • 10%
     
    responded: Master’s degree requiredmore info

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • 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.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • 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 that there is a problem.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • 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).
  • Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.

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Interests

Interest code: IRE
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • 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.

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Work Values

  • 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.

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Work Styles

  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work 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.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • 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.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$47.26 hourly, $98,300 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2021)
22,100 employees
Projected growth (2021-2031)
Average (4% to 7%)
Projected job openings (2021-2031)
1,700
State trends
Top industries (2021)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2021-2031 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2021-2031). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

Related Occupations

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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.

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