Materials engineer


Career outlook for materials engineer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would test and research the materials of the future to use them in new technology and better products.

You could work with new nanomaterials like graphene and phosphorene. You could find out how to use their properties for computer electronics or biological sensors.

Or you might find new ways to use older materials. For example, you might test carbon fibre reinforced plastics to make stronger, lighter sports equipment. You could develop the special polymers, ceramics and alloys used in medical implants.

You would normally work in a particular area, like metals, coatings or chemicals.

You would:

  • Research the properties of materials
  • Research new ways to combine properties
  • Test materials under different conditions
  • Analyse test data, using computer modelling software
  • Develop prototypes for new products
  • Help to design product manufacturing processes that use new materials
  • Investigate the reasons behind component or structural failures
  • Supervise a team of technicians
  • Write reports for project managers and clients

You would often investigate materials with non-destructive methods, like testing for tolerance to heat or corrosion, electrical conductivity or durability and strength.

Working conditions


You would normally work 35 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, with occasional overtime to meet deadlines.


Depending on your job, you could be based in an office, laboratory or manufacturing environment.


You may have to travel between sites to visit manufacturers and clients.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Cooperating
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Written communication
  • Designing
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Researching
  • Developing a plan
  • Managing resources

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Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in: 

  • Materials engineering
  • Polymer engineering
  • Metallurgy
  • Applied chemistry
  • Applied physics

Alternatively a degree specialising in materials or their commercial use such as 

  • Polymer science
  • Biomaterials
  • Sports and materials science

Ideally accredited by the Engineering Council or other relevant industry bodies.

Entry to a Materials Engineering degree (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and Highers at BBBC or above, or a relevant HNC. To enter a Postgraduate course (SCQF level 11) you will usually require an Honours Degree in a relevant subject. It may also be possible to start as a materials technician apprentice and complete more qualifications after your apprenticeship to become an engineer.

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by many courses and employers)
  • Science subjects, in particular Physics and Chemistry (required by many courses and employers)
  • English
  • Technologies subjects such as Engineering Science

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding and experience of the industry such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCQF level 4).