Materials specialist: job description

Materials specialists make sure the right material is used for the right job and may be involved in developing, selecting or evaluating materials for specialist uses.

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Materials scientists and engineers can be involved in research and development or production of anything from paint to lasers.

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

Materials specialists often work with electrical and mechanical engineers, designers, marketers and other scientists as part of multi-disciplinary teams.

Their work involves:

  • discussing operational requirements
  • researching new and existing materials and assessing their suitability for use
  • running computer models
  • analysing data to identify opportunities to improve
  • developing products
  • providing accurate cost figures
  • consulting with regulatory officials
  • keeping up to date with technological and legal developments

Typical employers of materials specialists

  • Engineering and construction companies
  • Recycling companies
  • Oil and gas companies
  • Smaller manufacturers

Material scientists’ problem-solving skills mean that they are also often in demand in other industries, such as IT, technical sales and marketing, and consultancy.

The recruitment process is likely to involve a technical interview. Read our article on technical interviews to find out what these involve and how you can tackle them.

Qualifications and training required

Most employers will require a degree in an engineering subject (mechanical, chemical, biochemical engineering) or a science subject (physics, chemistry, biology, biochemistry). Employers will also look favourably on postgraduate qualifications, especially those which relate to their area of specialism, or areas they wish to move in to.

Key skills for materials specialists

  • Good IT skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Knowledge of manufacturing processes

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