How to Become a Materials Scientist

How to Become a Materials Scientist: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a materials scientist, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a materials scientist:


Those who become materials scientists are typically individuals who are detail-oriented, enjoy working independently, have a high degree of mental focus, and they have a natural aptitude in science and statistics.


As the amount of knowledge necessary to become successful in this career is quite significant, those who wish to become materials scientists require a high level of dedication to their studies.


Many materials scientists are drawn to this career because development is often at the heart of product innovation in highly diverse applications. Developments in this field also affect the cost of consumer products, disposal and waste issues, and the long-term management of the environment. 


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a materials scientist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Materials Scientist

Materials science teams are typically made up of professionals with various specialties, so those who become materials scientists may come from a variety of educational backgrounds.


Materials science teams can include technicians, engineers, physicists, and materials scientists with B.S., M.S. or Ph.D. degrees, as well as Ph.D. chemists.


In addition to scientific education and training, those who wish to become materials scientists should understand, and be able to apply, basic statistical concepts. Thus, pursuing coursework in statistics is quite valuable to a career as a materials scientist.




Materials Scientist Job Description

Materials scientists are responsible for researching the chemical properties of natural and synthetic materials. As part of their research, they conduct experiments to determine the strength of the bonds between the molecules, and determine how the material can be modified or used to meet a specific need. 


Materials scientists work closely with engineers and processing specialists to ensure their discoveries are applied in the real world. The results of their research are generally applied to the invention of new products and technologies for a variety of industries, including electronics, aerospace, nuclear power, energy and information processing technologies. 



Materials Scientist Job Duties

• Study the structural components and chemical properties of metals, ceramics, allows, polymers, lubricants and other materials

• Use knowledge of physics, engineering and chemistry to uncover the material composition of various products

• Test and examine the physical properties of different matter, substances and chemical compounds

• Record detailed notes during the research process

• Prepare reports based on findings



Who Hires Materials Scientists?

Most materials scientists are employed in industry where products are made, to perform research or apply the findings of research. Government and academia also employ some materials scientists. Companies involved in the research and development of the following products typically hire materials scientists:


• New coatings (such as new varieties of paint)

• Materials that are compatible with human tissues for prosthetics and implants)

• Superconducting materials

• Graphite materials

• Clothing materials

• Integrated circuit chips

• Fuel cells






Skills and Traits Needed to Become a Materials Scientist

In order to become effective in a career as a materials scientist, you need to posses a certain set of skills and personality traits. These skills and traits will allow you to become a competent materials scientist, and will also help you endure the ups and downs of this career.


• Understanding of basic statistical concepts, and ability to apply them to work activities

• Manual dexterity and ability to use specialized laboratory equipment

• A natural interest in engineering and structures

• Have general knowledge in many scientific areas, such as chemistry, biology, physics and engineering

• Able to see problems from different angles

• An interest in seeing projects through, from conception stage to market stage

• An interest in working closely with professionals with different scientific and professional specialties

• Able to share opinions and effectively communicate findings to others

• Able to relate the current microstructure of a material to its desired properties



Materials Scientist Salary

The salary level of materials scientists can vary depending on many factors, including their level of expertise, their level of experience, where they work, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many others.


Materials Scientist Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Chemists occupational group earn an average of between $28.03 and $45.00 per hour.


Materials Scientist Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of workers in the Chemists occupational group is $63,190 per year.


Materials Scientist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of workers in the Chemists and Materials Scientists occupational group is $69,790 per year.



Careers Similar to Materials Scientist

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Materials Scientist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Chemical Analyst


Materials Engineer


Plastics Engineer



References: How to Become a Materials Scientist

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a materials scientist.



Occupations in Alberta:Materials Engineer.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 2, 2020.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Chemists and Materials Scientists.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 2, 2020.

College to Career: Materials Science.” (n.d.). American Chemical Society website. Retrieved January 2, 2020.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Materials Scientist

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Materials Scientist can be found on our Chemistry Scholarships and Physics Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Materials Scientist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a materials scientist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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