a dark blue TraitLab logo
Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Materials Scientist

Also known as Materials Scientist, Micro Electrical/Mechanical Systems Device Scientist (MEMS Device Scientist), Polymer Materials Consultant, Research and Development Scientist (R and D Scientist), Research Scientist, Scientist

Materials Scientist

Also known as Materials Scientist, Micro Electrical/Mechanical Systems Device Scientist (MEMS Device Scientist), Polymer Materials Consultant

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$54,810 - $165,290 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Science
Knowledge Areas
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • Conduct research on the structures and properties of materials, such as metals, alloys, polymers, and ceramics, to obtain information that could be used to develop new products or enhance existing ones.
  • Determine ways to strengthen or combine materials or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications.
  • Plan laboratory experiments to confirm feasibility of processes and techniques used in the production of materials with special characteristics.
Is Materials Scientist the right career path for you?

Would Materials Scientist be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Materials Scientist and hundreds of other career paths.

Create your free account

What does a Materials Scientist do?

Materials Scientists research and study the structures and chemical properties of various natural and synthetic or composite materials, including metals, alloys, rubber, ceramics, semiconductors, polymers, and glass.

In addition, Materials Scientists

  • determine ways to strengthen or combine materials or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications,
  • includes glass scientists, ceramic scientists, metallurgical scientists, and polymer scientists.

What kind of tasks does a Materials Scientist perform regularly?

Materials Scientists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Conduct research on the structures and properties of materials, such as metals, alloys, polymers, and ceramics, to obtain information that could be used to develop new products or enhance existing ones.
  • Determine ways to strengthen or combine materials or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications.
  • Plan laboratory experiments to confirm feasibility of processes and techniques used in the production of materials with special characteristics.
  • Devise testing methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials.
  • Prepare reports, manuscripts, proposals, and technical manuals for use by other scientists and requestors, such as sponsors and customers.
  • Perform experiments and computer modeling to study the nature, structure, and physical and chemical properties of metals and their alloys, and their responses to applied forces.
  • Recommend materials for reliable performance in various environments.
  • Test material samples for tolerance under tension, compression, and shear to determine the cause of metal failures.
  • Test metals to determine conformance to specifications of mechanical strength, strength-weight ratio, ductility, magnetic and electrical properties, and resistance to abrasion, corrosion, heat, and cold.
  • Write research papers for publication in scientific journals.
  • Confer with customers to determine how to tailor materials to their needs.
  • Supervise and monitor production processes to ensure efficient use of equipment, timely changes to specifications, and project completion within time frame and budget.
  • Visit suppliers of materials or users of products to gather specific information.

The above responsibilities are specific to Materials Scientists. More generally, Materials Scientists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

What is a Materials Scientist salary?

The median salary for a Materials Scientist is $99,460, and the average salary is $104,450. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Materials Scientist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Materials Scientists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Materials Scientists earn less than $54,810 per year, 25% earn less than $73,130, 75% earn less than $130,890, and 90% earn less than $165,290.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Materials Scientists is expected to change by 2.8%, and there should be roughly 700 open positions for Materials Scientists every year.

Median annual salary
$99,460
Typical salary range
$54,810 - $165,290
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
2.8%

What personality traits are common among Materials Scientists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Materials Scientist are usually higher in their Investigative and Realistic interests.

Materials Scientists typically have very strong Investigative interests. 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.

Also, Materials Scientists typically have strong Realistic interests. 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.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Materials Scientist tend to value Achievement, Independence, and Recognition.

Most importantly, Materials Scientists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Materials Scientists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Materials Scientists strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Materials Scientists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as analytical thinking, integrity, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Materials Scientists, ranked by importance:

Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
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.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

What education and training do Materials Scientists need?

Many Materials Scientists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Materials Scientists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Materials Scientists

  • 0.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 1.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 2.3% completed some college coursework
  • 1.9% earned a Associate's degree
  • 51.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 22.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 20.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Materials Scientists

Materials Scientists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as engineering and technology, chemistry, or mathematics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Materials Scientists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

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.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
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.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Important Abilities needed by Materials Scientists

Materials Scientists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Materials Scientists need abilities such as written comprehension, oral comprehension, and written expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Materials Scientists, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
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.

Critical Skills needed by Materials Scientists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Materials Scientists frequently use skills like critical thinking, reading comprehension, and science to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Materials Scientists, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Science
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
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.
Active Learning
Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.