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Materials Scientists
SOC Code: 19-2032.00

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. 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.

Sample of reported job titles: Materials Scientist, Micro Electrical/Mechanical Systems Device Scientist (MEMS Device Scientist), Polymer Materials Consultant, Research and Development Scientist (R and D Scientist), Research Scientist, Senior Materials Scientist, Staff Research Scientist, Staff Scientist, Technology Officer, Vice President Research


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Plan laboratory experiments to confirm feasibility of processes and techniques used in the production of materials with special characteristics.
  • 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.
  • Teach in colleges and universities.
  • Devise testing methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials.
  • Research methods of processing, forming, and firing materials to develop such products as ceramic dental fillings, unbreakable dinner plates, and telescope lenses.
  • Confer with customers to determine how to tailor materials to their needs.
  • Recommend materials for reliable performance in various environments.
  • Test individual parts and products to ensure that manufacturer and governmental quality and safety standards are met.
  • Supervise and monitor production processes to ensure efficient use of equipment, timely changes to specifications, and project completion within time frame and budget.
  • 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.
  • Test material samples for tolerance under tension, compression, and shear to determine the cause of metal failures.

Technology Skills

  • Analytical or scientific software - Bruker AXS LEPTOS; IBM SPSS Statistics ; Stewart Computational Chemistry MOPAC; VAMP/VASP (see all 26 examples)
  • Data base user interface and query software - International Centre for Diffraction Data ICDD DDView
  • Development environment software - National Instruments LabVIEW
  • Electronic mail software - Email software
  • Internet browser software - Web browser software
  • Object or component oriented development software - R
  • Presentation software - Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Abrasion testers - Erosion testers; Scratch testers; Slurry abrasion testers
  • Accelerometers
  • Analytical balances - Laboratory analytical balances
  • Atomic absorption AA spectrometers - Atomic absorption AA spectroscopes
  • Binocular light compound microscopes - Optical compound microscopes
  • Blow torch - Thermal spray torches
  • Calorimeters - Differential scanning calorimeters; Microcalorimeters
  • Casting machines - Tape casters
  • Corrosion testers - Multisample autoclaves; Salt spray chambers; Titanium autoclaves
  • Creep testers - Creep testing equipment
  • Crucible furnaces - Induction furnaces
  • Crystal growing equipment - Crystal growers
  • Desktop computers
  • Diffractometers - Theta-theta diffractometers
  • Electronic actuators - Dynamic actuators; Static actuators
  • Extruders - Extruding machines
  • Fatigue testers - Servohydraulic test machines
  • Freeze dryers or lyopholizers - Freeze dryers
  • Frequency analyzers - Spectrum analyzers
  • Fume hoods or cupboards - Fume hoods
  • Goggles - Safety goggles
  • Grinders - Manual grinders
  • Hardness testers - Macrohardness testers
  • Horizontal turning center - Ultraprecision lathes
  • Hydraulic press frames - Hot mounting presses; Hydraulic presses
  • Impact testers
  • Induction heaters - Plasma arc melting furnaces
  • Inductively coupled plasma ICP spectrometers - Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers ICP-MS
  • Infrared spectrometers - Fourier transform infrared FTIR spectrometers
  • Injection molding machines - Screw injection molding machines
  • Interferometers - Interferometric microscopes; Laser interferometers
  • Ion selective electrode ISE meters - Ion analyzers
  • Isolation glove boxes - Glove box systems
  • Laboratory balances - Quartz crystal microbalances; Semi-microbalances; Ultra microbalances
  • Laboratory box furnaces - Box furnaces; Muffle furnaces; Nitrogen furnaces; Ultra high temperature furnaces (see all 5 examples)
  • Laboratory crushers or pulverizers - Pulverizers
  • Laboratory evaporators - High vacuum evaporation systems; Metal evaporation chambers
  • Laboratory mills - Ball mills; Shaker ball mills
  • Laboratory mixers - Blungers
  • Light scattering equipment - Backscatter detectors; Dynamic light scattering equipment
  • Linear position sensors - Linear variable differential transformers LVDT
  • Loadcells - Load cells
  • Magnetometers - Vibrating sample magnetometers
  • Manometers - Capacitance manometers
  • Mass spectrometers - Gas chromatograph mass spectrometers GC-MS; Mobile mass spectrometers
  • Metal markers or holders - Electrolytic etching machines
  • Metallurgical microscopes - Metallographic microscopes
  • Microcontrollers - Programmable logic controllers PLC
  • Milling machines - Computerized numerical control CNC machining centers
  • Notebook computers - Laptop computers
  • Oscilloscopes - Digital oscilloscopes
  • Particle size measuring apparatus - Sedigraphs
  • Personal computers
  • Photo attachments for microscopes - Charge-coupled device CCD cameras; Microscope digital cameras
  • Polarizing microscopes - Petrographic microscopes
  • Porosimeters - Pore sizers
  • Potentiometers - Potentiostats
  • Power grinders - Grinding spindles; Semiautomatic grinders
  • Power saws - Diamond wafering saws; High-speed cutoff saws
  • Presses - Cold isostatic presses; Hot isostatic presses
  • Radiation detectors - Peltier cooled solid-state detectors
  • Reflectometers - Neutron reflectometers
  • Rheometers - Capillary rheometers
  • Roughness measuring instruments - Stylus profilometers
  • Safety glasses
  • Sampling manifolds - High-vacuum manifolds
  • Scanning electron microscopes - Field emission scanning electron microscopes; Scanning electron microscopes SEM
  • Scanning probe microscopes - Atomic force microscopes; Nanoscope atomic force microscopes; Scanning Kelvin probes; Scanning tunneling microscopes STM (see all 5 examples)
  • Semiconductor process systems - Reactive ion etchers RIE; Sputter deposition systems
  • Signal generators - Function generators
  • Spectrofluorimeters or fluorimeters - Spectrofluorimeters
  • Spectrometers - Dielectric spectrometers; Gamma ray spectrometers; Mossbauer spectroscopes; Secondary ion mass spectrometers SIMS (see all 6 examples)
  • Spectrophotometers
  • Stereo or dissecting light microscopes - Stereo microscopes
  • Surface tension measuring instruments - Contact angle goniometers
  • Surface testers - Optical profilometers; Profilometers
  • Swaging tools
  • Thermal differential analyzers - Differential thermal analyzers; Dynamic mechanical analyzers DMA
  • Thermo gravimetry analyzers - Thermal gravimetric analyzers
  • Thickness measuring devices - Ellipsometers; Imaging ellipsometers; Quartz crystal thickness monitors
  • Transmission electron microscopes - Transmission electron microscopes TEM
  • Tube furnaces - Horizontal tube furnaces
  • Tumblers or polishers - Vibratory polishers
  • Ultra pure water systems - Laboratory water purification systems
  • Ultrasonic cleaning equipment - Ultrasonic cleaners
  • Ultrasonic examination equipment - Sonic modulus testers; Ultrasonic analyzers
  • Vacuum ovens - Annealing ovens
  • Viscosimeters - Cone viscometers; Plate viscometers; Rotational viscometers
  • Volumeters - Dilatometers; Double push rod dilatometers
  • Wear testers - Ball-on-disk tribometers; UV exposure chambers
  • X ray diffraction equipment - X ray diffractometers
  • X ray generators
  • X ray radiography examination equipment - Industrial computed tomography CT scanners


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Production and Processing - Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.


  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • 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.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • 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.
  • Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operations Analysis - Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.


  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • 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 there is a problem.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Number Facility - The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.


  • Interest code: IR
    • Investigative - 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.
    • Realistic - 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.

Work Context

  • Electronic Mail - 94% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 79% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 60% responded “Every day.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 75% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Telephone - 52% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 54% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 44% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 49% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 42% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 40% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others - 42% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
  • Level of Competition - 46% responded “Highly competitive.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 33% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Letters and Memos - 40% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Spend Time Sitting - 50% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 40% responded “Important results.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 43% responded “Important.”
  • Consequence of Error - 25% responded “Very serious.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 50% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Time Pressure - 46% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions - 35% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
35%Bachelor's degree
33%Doctoral degree
19%Master's degree

Work Styles

  • 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.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.

Work Values

  • Achievement - Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Recognition - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $47.85 hourly, $99,530 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 8,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Average (5% to 9%)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 800

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