Materials engineer
Physical Sciences

Materials engineers are specialists in the science and engineering of materials.

Job responsibilities vary according to the size and type of employer.

Work Activities

However, duties typically include:

  • developing, modifying, testing and evaluating materials
  • providing technical advice about the suitability of materials
  • diagnosing faults
  • advising on, planning and organising inspections, maintenance and repairs
  • overseeing operational quality control processes
  • liaising with suppliers, customers and manufacturing/development staff
  • supervising engineering and technical staff
  • undertaking relevant research

You can find out more about materials engineering by reading the materials and metals sector overview, written by an experienced materials engineer on TARGETjobs.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for materials engineers

  • Sound scientific and technical knowledge
  • Analytical skills
  • Confidence
  • Leadership skills
  • Effective organisational skills
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Teamworking skills

read the TARGETjobs article on the skills engineering employers look for for more information and then find out how you can prove you possess these competencies at engineering assessment centres.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of materials engineers

  • Metal/materials production, manufacturing and process companies
  • Research and development organisations
  • Utilities companies
  • Oil and gas companies
  • The Civil Service

Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and recruitment agencies, in newspapers and in relevant publications including TARGETjobs Engineering, Welding and Cutting, The Engineer, Engineering,Engineering News and their respective websites.


Qualifications and training required

There are routes into this profession for both school leavers and university graduates. Graduates will need a degree in a relevant engineering or science-based subject, such as materials engineering, mining engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science, or metallurgy. Some employers will ask for a 2.1 degree but others will accept candidates with a 2.2 degree. Take a look at the TARGETjobs list of engineering employers that accept 2.2 degrees.

Postgraduate qualifications can be beneficial (particularly for graduates without relevant backgrounds) and may be necessary for some posts. A list of accredited courses is available on the Engineering Council's website and you can read the TARGETjobs article on engineering postgraduate study to explore your options.

If you are a school leaver, you may be able to enter the profession with a higher national diploma (HND); however, career progression may be limited. If you are aiming for a technician role, you can achieve this with an advanced or higher apprenticeship in an appropriate subject such as materials, manufacturing or mechanical engineering.

Relevant experience can be helpful; many employers offer final year project work, degree sponsorship, vacation work and industrial placements which can provide a useful insight into the profession. Take a look at the TARGETjobs list of engineering employers who offer industrial placements and summer internships.

Achieving chartered (CEng) status with the Engineering Council can help to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to your field. To become chartered, you will need an accredited bachelors degree in engineering or technology, plus an appropriate masters degree (MEng) or doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional engineering institution such as the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3). You will also be eligible with an integrated MSc. To find out more, take a look at the TARGETjobs guide to chartership.

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