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, Scientist
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- 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.
- Plan laboratory experiments to confirm feasibility of processes and techniques used in the production of materials with special characteristics.
- Devise testing methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials.
- 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.
- Recommend materials for reliable performance in various environments.
- Test material samples for tolerance under tension, compression, and shear to determine the cause of metal failures.
- 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.
- Write research papers for publication in scientific journals.
- Confer with customers to determine how to tailor materials to their needs.
- Supervise and monitor production processes to ensure efficient use of equipment, timely changes to specifications, and project completion within time frame and budget.
- Visit suppliers of materials or users of products to gather specific information.
- Test individual parts and products to ensure that manufacturer and governmental quality and safety standards are met.
- Teach in colleges and universities.
- Research methods of processing, forming, and firing materials to develop such products as ceramic dental fillings, unbreakable dinner plates, and telescope lenses.
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- Analytical or scientific software — Bruker AXS LEPTOS; IBM SPSS Statistics ; PANalytical X’Pert Epitaxy; 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
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- 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.
- 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.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- 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.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- 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.
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- 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.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- 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.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- 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.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
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- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- 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 that there is a problem.
- 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).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- 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.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- 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).
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
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- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Conduct research to gain information about products or processes.
- Develop new or advanced products or production methods.
- Design research studies to obtain scientific information.
- Devise research or testing protocols.
- Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
- Develop theories or models of physical phenomena.
- Advise others on the development or use of new technologies.
- Test quality of materials or finished products.
- Confer with clients to exchange information.
- Write articles, books or other original materials in area of expertise.
- Monitor operational procedures in technical environments to ensure conformance to standards.
- Instruct college students in physical or life sciences.
- Collect information from people through observation, interviews, or surveys.
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- Electronic Mail — 95% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 86% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 62% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 43% responded “Extremely important.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 52% responded “Some freedom.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 43% responded “Extremely important.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 43% responded “Some freedom.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 57% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 57% responded “40 hours.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 38% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Telephone — 62% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 57% responded “Important results.”
- Level of Competition — 52% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Contact With Others — 40% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 48% responded “More than half the time.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 52% responded “Very important.”
- Time Pressure — 57% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 33% responded “High responsibility.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 24% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 38% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 43% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
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|Title||Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master’s degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).|
|Related Experience||Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.|
|Job Training||Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, neurologists, and veterinarians.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
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Interest code: IR Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- 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.
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- 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.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- 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.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
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- 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.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$47.82 hourly, $99,460 annual|
|Employment (2020)||7,100 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Slower than average (1% to 5%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||700|
|Top industries (2020)||
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- American Chemical Society
- American Institute of Chemical Engineers
- American Physical Society
- American Vacuum Society
- ASM International
- Materials Research Society
- National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Chemists and materials scientists
- Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society
- Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering
- Society of Plastics Engineers
- The American Ceramic Society
- The Electrochemical Society
- The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society
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