Materials engineer: job description

Materials engineer: job description

Materials engineers use their expertise to produce specifications for, design, process and apply materials effectively.
Materials engineers need sound scientific and technical knowledge as well as commercial awareness.

What does a materials engineer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

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

Job responsibilities vary according to the size and type of employer. 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 engineeringing by reading our materials and metals sector overview, written by an experienced materials engineer.

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 our 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 our 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. To find out more about getting into engineering via a school leaver route, visit the engineering section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

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 our 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 our guide to chartership.

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 our 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.

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