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Engineering design

Materials engineer

Materials engineers research the behaviour of materials used in industry to make them stronger, lighter and more hard-wearing.

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £45,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: evenings; occasionally

Future employment

There will be 3.4% more Materials engineer jobs in 2026.

Day to day tasks

In your day-to-day duties you could:

  • research new ways to combine materials
  • analyse test data, using computer modelling software
  • develop prototypes for new products
  • design manufacturing processes that use new materials
  • investigate the reasons behind component or structural failures
  • supervise a team of technicians
  • write reports

Working environment

You could work at a manufacturing plant, in a laboratory or in an office.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

You'll normally need a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree. Relevant subjects include:

  • materials engineering
  • materials science or technology
  • applied chemistry
  • applied physics

You could also take a degree course specialising in one group of materials or their commercial use, for example metallurgy, polymer science, biomaterials, or sports and materials science.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information

Apprenticeships relevant to this role include:

  • Level 6 Materials science technologist degree apprenticeship
  • Level 7 Materials process engineer degree apprenticeship

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
For more information

More information

Further information

You can find out more about careers in materials engineering from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

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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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • knowledge of physics
  • analytical thinking skills
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
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