Materials engineers research the behaviour of materials used in industry to make them stronger, lighter and more hard-wearing.
Salary range: £20,000 to £45,000
How to become a materials engineer
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
You’ll normally need a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree. Relevant subjects include:
- materials engineering
- materials science or technology
- applied chemistry
- applied physics
You could also take a degree course specialising in one group of materials or their commercial use, for example metallurgy, polymer science, biomaterials, or sports and materials science.
You’ll usually need:
- 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You may be able to do a materials science technologist degree apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
You can find out more about careers in materials engineering from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of engineering science and technology
- maths knowledge
- knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
- knowledge of physics
- analytical thinking skills
- knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
- excellent verbal communication skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties could include:
- researching new ways to combine materials
- analysing test data, using computer modelling software
- developing prototypes for new products
- designing manufacturing processes that use new materials
- investigating the reasons behind component or structural failures
- supervising a team of technicians
- writing reports
You could work at a manufacturing plant, in a laboratory or in an office.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could move into project management or technical sales. You could also specialise in a particular material, or work in research and consultancy.