Materials Engineer

Job Description:

Materials engineers research the behaviour of materials used in industry to help make them stronger, lighter, or more durable.

Job Category:
Engineering & Construction

What you will do:

You’ll research materials used in industry, like carbon fibre reinforced plastic, polymers, ceramics or alloys, and test their behaviours under different conditions.

You’ll usually work in a particular area, like metals, coatings or chemicals.

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • researching new ways to combine materials
  • analysing test data, using computer modelling software
  • developing prototypes for new products
  • designing manufacturing processes that use new materials
  • investigating the reasons behind component or structural failures
  • supervising a team of technicians
  • writing reports

You’ll use non-destructive testing methods to investigate materials, like electrical conductivity, or tolerance to heat or corrosion.

You might work with nanomaterials like graphene and phosphorene, and identify where their properties could be put to use, like in computer electronics or biological sensors.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • knowledge of maths and physics
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

As well as:

  • excellent verbal communication skills (leadership skills)
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • analytical thinking skills
  • ability to collaborate with other engineers, scientists, and researchers to address material-related challenges and enhance the performance and durability of products (teamwork)
  • strong problem-solving skills
  • attention to detail
  • a passion for innovation are essential for success in this exciting and evolving field.
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

School Subjects

To become a Materials Engineer in the UK, you should focus on GCSE subjects that provide a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Materials Engineers work with various materials, such as metals, polymers, ceramics, and composites, to develop and improve materials used in different industries. Here are the recommended GCSE subjects to pursue:

  1. Mathematics: Mathematics is a core subject for engineering disciplines, including Materials Engineering. It is crucial for complex calculations, problem-solving, and data analysis involved in material testing and design.
  2. Physics: Physics provides fundamental principles related to mechanics, properties of materials, and thermodynamics, which are essential in Materials Engineering.
  3. Chemistry: Chemistry is crucial for understanding the chemical properties and behavior of materials, including their reactivity and corrosion resistance.
  4. Design and Technology: This subject can provide insights into engineering design principles, materials, and the use of machinery, which are applicable in Materials Engineering.
  5. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Familiarity with digital tools and software is essential for data analysis, simulations, and modeling in materials research.

Here are the typical steps to pursue a career as a Materials Engineer:


After completing GCSEs, you can pursue A-levels or other post-16 qualifications, focusing on subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry.

Higher Education

Apply to an accredited university to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Science, Materials Engineering, Metallurgy, or a related field. During your undergraduate studies, you will learn about material properties, manufacturing processes, and materials testing.

Internships or Work Placements

Seek internships or work placements with materials engineering companies or research institutions to gain practical experience and apply theoretical knowledge to real-world projects.


Consider specializing in a particular area within Materials Engineering, such as biomaterials, nanomaterials, or aerospace materials.

Professional Development

Join professional organizations related to Materials Engineering, and consider pursuing postgraduate studies or professional development courses to further enhance your knowledge and skills.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually work 35 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, with some overtime to meet deadlines.

You’ll be based in an office, laboratory or manufacturing environment.

You may have to travel between sites.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could move into project management or technical sales. You could also specialise in a particular material, or work in research and consultancy.