Why choose a career in materials science?

Ceramics and glass materials are used in a wide variety of industries, from engineering and construction to medical and consumer products. There is a great deal of creativity and innovation required to develop new materials, including new applications for ceramic and glass products. The materials science field offers the chance to work with cutting-edge technologies and materials and to develop new products that can benefit society.

Discover careers at all education levels...

High School Diploma

Furnace Operator

Job Description: A furnace operator is typically responsible for safe operation of the submerged combustion production line of the furnace/melter. They also may coordinate startup and shutdown activities. 

Salary: $18.30 per hour

Education: Typically a high school diploma

How do I become a furnace operator? Furnace operators typically receive some form of on-the-job training, which varies in length depending on the type of machinery being operated.

Job Outlook: Despite declining employment, about 101,700 openings for metal and plastic machine workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.


Job Description: Glaziers install glass in windows, skylights and other fixtures.

Salary: $47,180 per year/$22.68 per hour 

Education: High school diploma; no prior similar experience required.

How do I become a glazier? On-the-job training/apprenticeship.

Job Outlook: About 6,500 glazier jobs are expected to open up per year until 2031 due to retirement or occupation transferring.

Precision Machinist

Job Description: Precision machinists operate equipment to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools. 

Salary: $47,940 per year/$23.05 per hour

Education: Precision machinists typically require a high school degree and some postsecondary education.

How do I become a precision machinist? Most precision machinists are trained on the job and some complete internships, apprenticeships, vocational school, or community/technical college.

Job Outlook: Little to no change projected in job outlook from 2021 to 2031.

Two-Year Degree

Materials Technician

Job Description: Materials technicians provide information and analysis on inventory of materials to support the decision-making process related to the management of inventory levels.

Salary: $19.25 per hour

Education: Associate and High School Degree in Education, Technical, Associates, Science, General Education, Engineering, Chemistry, Civil Engineering Technology, Technology, Management

How do I become a materials technician? Get additional certifications so that you can identify suitable material sources (borrow pits) on site for use as earthworks and layerworks material.

Additionally, you should be able to assess material suitability for use on site ie suitability of cut material for fill and have an understanding and appreciation of road building materials requirements

Job Outlook: 6% 

Wind Turbine Technician 

Job Description: Wind turbine technicians install, repair, and maintain wind turbines.

Salary: $56,260 per year/$27.05 per hour

Education: Most wind turbine technicians attend a technical school or community college where they earn certificates in energy technology or an associate’s degree.

How do I become a wind turbine technician? After learning the trade through technical school or community college, most wind turbine technicians then undergo 12 months of on-the-job training and/or an internship with a wind turbine servicing contractor.

Job Outlook: Employment of wind turbine technicians is projected to grow 44 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than average for most other occupations.

Bachelor's Degree

Chemists & Materials Scientists

Job Description: Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and analyze the ways in which the substances interact with one another.

Salary: $79,760 per year/$38.34 per hour

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

How do I become a chemist and materials scientist? Chemists and materials scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field. However, a master’s degree or Ph.D. is needed for many research jobs.

Job Outlook: Overall employment of chemists and materials scientists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Composites Engineer

Job Description: Composite engineers work in composite manufacturing, which is widely used within the aerospace, defense, consumer products, medical device, automotive, and construction industries. As these industries seek to develop and produce products that are lighter, stronger, and at reduced costs composites are the go-to engineering solution.

Salary: $80,000 /year starting salary

Education: To become a composite engineer, you need a bachelor's degree in engineering with a specialization in mechanical or structural engineering.

How do I become a composite engineer? After earning your bachelor’s degree, most positions require a minimum of five year's experience with AutoCAD and a proven track record of successful projects.

Job Outlook: 6% (As fast as average)

Glass/Ceramic Engineer (Materials Engineer)

Job Description: Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products.

Salary: $98,300 per year/$47.26 per hour 

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

How do I become a glass/ceramic engineer? Materials engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering or in a related engineering field. Completing internships and cooperative-engineering programs while in school may be helpful for gaining hands-on experience.

Job Outlook: Employment of materials engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Materials Process Engineer

Job Description: A materials process engineer is responsible for turning raw materials into finished goods by developing new materials and incorporating improvements in the structure of the existing materials. 

Salary: $90,788 (national average) but it is possible to earn more

Education: Bachelor’s degree; some may also have master’s degrees in mechanical engineering or manufacturing engineering.

How do I become a materials process engineer? Explore materials process engineer education, develop materials process engineer skills, complete relevant training/internship and research materials process engineer duties.

Job Outlook: 0% job increase between 2018 and 2028.

Metallurgical Engineer

Job Description: A metallurgical engineer studies different metals, uses machines and welding equipment, creates drawings and maps, produces reports and assists miners.

Salary: $76,833 per year

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Metallurgical engineering

How do I become a metallurgical engineer? To become a metallurgical engineer, earn a bachelor's degree in geology, environmental engineering, or a related field. Try to obtain an internship and consider a master’s degree.

Job Outlook: The job outlook for materials engineers is 8% between 2020 and 2030.

Reliability Engineer

Job Description: A reliability engineer helps companies better understand and prevent the consequences of equipment malfunctioning. Reliability engineers are manufacturing and production specialists who study and analyze equipment life cycles. 

Salary: $97,434 per year

Education: To become a reliability engineer, earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering and complete an engineering internship during or after college. 

How do I become a reliability engineer? After earning your degree, pursue licensure based on which state you’re in. There are multiple certifications that can be completed after this in order to get employed. 

Job Outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an average job growth of 10% between 2019 and 2029 for the related industrial engineer field. 

Research and Design Technician

Job Description: A research and design technician provides support for printers, multifunction devices, copiers, shop floor tablets, PC’s and basic PC software such as MS operating systems, MS Office 365 software, and MS Skype for Business phone and conferencing systems.

Salary: Between $59,932 and $76,590

Education: Associate and Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry, Science, Engineering, Biology, Technical, Associates, Technology, Supervision, Physics, Psychology

How do I become a research and design/development technician? Get a AALAS, ASQ, HVAC, PIT license or certification.

Job Outlook: 23% increase from 2021 to 2031.

Research Engineer

Job Description: The field of research engineering can vary greatly depending on an individual's engineering specialty. However, they typically work within the Research & Development department of an organization, government agency or academic institution.

Salary: The national average salary for research engineers is $94,463 per year and $123,325 per year for senior research engineers.

Education: Obtain a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

How do I become a research engineer? Engineering students typically spend the first two years of their degree program taking coursework in relevant subjects such as advanced mathematics or sciences, including physics and chemistry. Once you have completed these prerequisites, you can take courses focused on your engineering specialization. During school, obtain work experience.

Job Outlook: 21%  — 6% increase for General Engineering.

Semiconductor Processing Engineer

Job Description: A semiconductor processing engineer uses their technical background to design and program semiconductors to meet the needs of different businesses. Semiconductor engineers manage all designing, building, troubleshooting and testing electronic circuits.

Salary: The salary range typically falls between $88,272 and $101,413.

Education: Earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering, take your first licensure test and consider a master’s degree.

How do I become a semiconductor processing engineer? Earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering, take your first licensure test and consider a master’s degree. Earn experience in an entry-level position and consider getting additional licenses and certifications.

Job Outlook: 7%

Quality Assurance Engineer

Job Description: A quality assurance (QA) engineer ensures that the software passes all checks before its release to the public. They oversee every phase of design, development, testing and delivery to verify if the product meets the quality standards and requirements, and they work with a team and report to a manager. 

Salary: $66,141 per year

Education: A minimum requirement to become a QA engineer is to complete your under graduation in software design, engineering or computer science.

How do I become a quality assurance engineer? Gain practical experience in the field of coding, testing or even quality assurance through internships and get additional certifications to add credibility to your resume.

Job Outlook: 25%

Graduate Degree


Job Description: Biochemists (and biophysicists) study the chemical and physical properties of living things. They typically work in laboratories or office settings to conduct experiments and analyze results. Materials science provides biochemists with the tools and techniques to create, manipulate, and study materials on the micro and nano scale. This can be used to develop more efficient instruments and tools for studying molecules and other biomolecules. 

Salary: $102,270 per year 

Education: Doctoral or professional degree

How do I become a biochemist? Biochemists must earn their Ph.D. in order to work in independent research and development. Bachelor’s and master’s degree holders qualify for some entry-level positions in biochemistry and biophysics.

Job Outlook: Biochemist jobs are projected to grow 15 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Engineering Teacher, Postsecondary

Job Description: An engineering teacher/professor instructs students in the engineering discipline at the postsecondary level. 

Salary: $79,640 per year

Education: Most postsecondary teachers have a Ph.D., although some institutions may only require a master’s degree. Educational requirements vary by institution.

How do I become a postsecondary teacher? Many postsecondary teachers have work experience in their chosen field before they start teaching. Many will usually earn their Ph.D. beforehand as well.

Job Outlook: Overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Medical Scientist

Job Description: Medical scientists conduct research with a goal of improving human health. By understanding the physical, chemical, and mechanical properties of materials, medical scientists can design more effective treatments and devices, such as implants, prosthetics, and pharmaceuticals. Materials science also helps medical scientists better understand how materials interact with biological systems.

Salary: $95,310 per year

Education: Doctoral or professional degree

How do I become a medical scientist? Medical scientists usually have a Ph.D. in a field such as biology or related life sciences.

Job Outlook: Employment of medical scientists is projected to grow 17 percent from 2021 to 2031.