Materials Scientist Job Description

  • Helena Kudiabor
  • Sep 19 2023

Materials science is a relatively new field, but an exciting one. Materials scientists conduct research into the structures and properties of different materials. Their findings are not just fascinating but useful, as many industries utilise their insights to work out which materials to use.


What is a materials scientist?

A materials scientist is someone who analyses the structure, properties and function of a range of materials. Their work isn’t solely restricted to natural materials, they also research artificial materials. Materials they typically work with include metals, ceramics, glass and plastic.

To build a comprehensive picture of a material’s components, they look at the materials science tetrahedron. These are the four main, interconnected components of materials science: performance (strength, resistance to wear), processing (how the raw material becomes a finished product), properties (size, shape) and structure (how the material holds up).

This understanding of the material is used by different industries (healthcare, manufacturing, energy to name a few) to help them figure out if a material already in use needs to be replaced, or which materials are best for a specific product. 

What are the typical responsibilities of a materials scientist?

Day to day responsibilities include:

  • Designing computer models and experiments to see how a material responds to force, extreme temperatures and other variables
  • Preparing technical reports and manuals so others can understand the product
  • Liaising with company representatives to understand their goals for their products
  • Testing individual components and finished products to ensure they’re working properly
  • Researching ways to strengthen existing materials and products.

What’s the difference between a materials scientist and a materials engineer?

Materials scientists focus more on researching and testing materials to find the most effective ones, while materials engineers focus on building and maintaining materials.

What skills do I need to be a materials scientist?

Organisation is key, to keep up to date with industry regulations and incorporate the company’s wishes for their products.

Perseverance is important, to deal with setbacks like a material not passing safety tests or a company updating the requirements for their products.

Finally, written and verbal communication skills are a good idea. These will come in handy when you’re explaining your research process, writing reports and working with industry professionals. 

How do I become a materials scientist?

You can complete an apprenticeship, or do a degree. An apprenticeship like the Level 6 Materials Science Technologist degree apprenticeship allows you to gain hands-on experience in the field, and work towards a fully funded qualification. A few universities offer material science degrees, but you can also do a degree in a related subject like chemistry or physics. Postgraduate study would also help you stand out from the crowd.