How to Become a Materials Scientist

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Materials science is an interdisciplinary area that deals with the properties of matter and the application to many different areas of science. Materials scientists are trained professionals that seek and use information about chemicals.


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What does a materials scientist do?

Materials scientists study and research the structures and chemical aspects of many different materials such as metals, ceramics, rubber, glass, polymers, and semiconductors. They develop new materials or determine ways to improve existing ones for a variety of uses. They also figure out methods to strengthen or combine materials or create new materials to use in many different products. Materials scientists conduct a variety of research to examine and develop processes for many different purposes such as the reduction of energy pollution. They carry out a variety of experiments to understand the bond strength between many different molecules. Materials scientists often focus on a specific material such as metals or ceramics.

What kind of training does a materials scientist need?

Materials scientists typically need at least a bachelor degree in materials science or related field. Many materials scientists have degrees in chemistry, electrical engineering, and physics. Some employers prefer applicants with a doctorate degree to lead research activities. Prospective materials scientists typically complete courses in chemistry, computer science, physics, and statistics. Many aspiring materials scientists complete internships to gain practical experience in the field. Most employers provide additional training and education to new materials scientists. Materials scientists must stay abreast on advancements in the field and keep their skills up to date. They regularly complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a materials scientist?

Employment of materials scientists is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 9% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing population and increase of manufacturers developing improved processes and materials will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for materials scientists with advanced education. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace materials scientists that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do materials scientists make?

As of November 2009, materials scientists with less than 1 year experience earn average annual salaries between $34,427 and $77,786. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $57,479 and $85,184 (2).

A career as a materials scientist is a great choice for people with a strong interest in materials science and the application of its principles to a variety of tasks. Materials scientists must be able to concentrate on details and be accurate and precise in their work. Good problem solving, determination, critical thinking, and perseverance are desirable characteristics. Materials scientists must have excellent oral and written communication and ability to interact with many different professionals. They must also be able to work independently as well as part of a team.

Joshua T Osborne

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