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Materials Engineers - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Beginning engineering graduates usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers and, in large companies, also may receive formal classroom or seminar-type training. As new engineers gain knowledge and experience, they are assigned more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. Engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a staff or team of engineers and technicians. Some eventually may become engineering managers or enter other managerial or sales jobs. In sales, an engineering background enables them to discuss a product's technical aspects and assist in product planning, installation, and use.

Numerous professional certifications for engineers exist and may be beneficial for advancement to senior technical or managerial positions. Many certification programs are offered by the professional societies listed as sources of additional information for engineering specialties at the end of this statement.

Employment
In 2008, engineers held about 1.6 million jobs. About 36 percent of engineering jobs were found in manufacturing industries, and another 30 percent were in the professional, scientific, and technical services industries, primarily in architectural, engineering, and related services. Many engineers also worked in the construction, telecommunications, and wholesale trade industries.

Federal, State, and local governments employed about 12 percent of engineers in 2008. About 6 percent were in the Federal Government, mainly in the U.S. Departments of Defense, Transportation, Agriculture, Interior, and Energy, and in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Many engineers in State and local government agencies worked in highway and public works departments. In 2008, about 3 percent of engineers were self-employed, many as consultants.

Engineers are employed in every State, in small and large cities and in rural areas. Some branches of engineering are concentrated in particular industries and geographic areas; for example, petroleum engineering jobs tend to be located in States with sizable petroleum deposits, such as Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alaska, and California. Other branches, such as civil engineering, are widely dispersed, and engineers in these fields often move from place to place to work on different projects.

Job Outlook
Materials engineers are expected to have employment growth of 9 percent over the projections decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations.


Job Growth
Growth should result from increased use of composite and other nontraditional materials developed through biotechnology and nanotechnology research. As manufacturing firms contract for their materials engineering needs, most employment growth is expected in professional, scientific, and technical services industries.



Earnings
Earnings for Materials Engineers vary significantly by education. The mean annual salary for Materials Engineers is $85,000.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Ceramic Engineering
Ceramic engineering is the technology of manufacturing and usage of ceramic materials. Many engineering applications benefit from ceramics characteristics as a material. The characteristics of ceramics have garnered attention from engineers across the world, including those in the fields: Electrical ...more
Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the application of physical science (e.g. chemistry and physics), with mathematics, to the process of converting raw materials or chemicals into more useful or valuable forms. As well as producing useful materials, chemical engineering ...more
Geological Engineering
Geological engineering is the engineering science of applying engineering principles to the study of geological materials as part of the engineering design of facilities including roads, tunnels, and mines especially as related to minerals and mineral products. Some see it as a merging of the disciplines ...more
Materials Science
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field involving the properties of matter and its applications to various areas of science and engineering. This science investigates the relationship between the structure of materials and their properties. It includes elements of applied physics and chemistry, ...more
Metallurgical Engineering
Metallurgical Engineering is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their compounds, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use. In ...more
Mineral Engineering
Mineral Engineering is a branch of Engineering Geoscience, the science of man's interaction with the earth: the use of math, physics, geology and environmental science to understand and shape the natural world around us. Mineral Engineering is the interdisciplinary study, development and design of subsurface ...more
Textile Engineering
Textile engineering (TE) or textile technology deals with the application of scientific and engineering principles to the design and control of all aspects of fiber, textile, and apparel processes, products, and machinery. These include natural and man-made materials, interaction of materials with machines, ...more