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Materials engineer

Materials technician, materials scientist

Materials engineers source, test and assess the materials used in construction. They ensure that building foundations and materials are suitable and offer guidance on the best materials to use for a project, based on their individual properties, project costs and timeframes.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


Number employed in the UK


How to become a materials engineer

There are different routes to becoming a materials engineer. You could do a university course or an apprenticeship.

You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and able to follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.


You could complete a foundation or undergraduate degree in:

  • Materials, mechanical, mining or structural engineering
  • Materials science or technology
  • Applied chemistry
  • Applied physics.

You could also complete a degree specialising in a specific group of materials and their uses, such as metallurgy, polymer science, biomaterials, ceramics and glass, or geology.

You’ll need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent (foundation degree or higher national diploma)
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent (undergraduate degree)

If you have an undergraduate degree in anything other than materials engineering, you may find that a postgraduate qualification will open up more opportunities.

If your degree is accredited by a relevant professional body, such as the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, it can help you to achieve the status of chartered engineer at a later date.


An apprenticeship with a construction firm is a good way into the industry.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

You may be able to do a Materials Science Technologist degree apprenticeship.

You’ll usually need:

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works in construction. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a materials engineer include:

  • Knowledge of engineering science, maths, physics, and technology
  • Knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • Able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What does a materials engineer do?

As a materials engineer you will be responsible for looking into the properties of various materials used for projects in construction, and then selecting the best based on these findings.

The job role of a materials engineer involves the following duties: 

  • Researching the properties of materials
  • Selecting the best materials for specific purposes, i.e. lightest, most hard-wearing
  • Testing materials under different conditions to assess how resistant they are, i.e. to heat, corrosion or chemical attack
  • Analysing material test data using modelling software
  • Investigating structural issues and advising on material maintenance and repair
  • Calculating material costs and advising on the best products to use
  • Writing reports for project engineers and managers
  • Developing building prototypes
  • Considering waste/environmental impact arising from material use
  • Working in a manufacturing plant, laboratory or office.

How much could you earn as a materials engineer?

The expected salary for a materials engineer varies as you become more experienced.

  • A newly trained materials engineer can earn £20,000 - £25,000
  • A trained materials engineer with some experience can earn £25,000 - £40,000
  • A senior, chartered or master materials engineer can earn £40,000 - £65,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest materials engineer vacancies:

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to become a senior materials engineer and earn a higher salary.

Alternatively, you could specialise and become an expert in a particular material, or you could take on a role as a project manager or a civil or structural engineer.

You could set up your own business and work as a freelance materials consultant.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Materials engineer Find out about the role of materials engineers in construction. What does a mate...
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  • Current role Senior materials engineer Responsible for sourcing & testing all materials used in construction. Read our ...
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