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Material Science career prospects?

  1. Aug 23, 2012 #1
    Hi. I'm about to pick my undergraduate degree and I can't decide on the engineering course I want. I was thinking of applying for a BEng in Material Science or Material Engineering but I'm not too sure about the job prospects for a degree in these subjects.

    Can anyone here tell me if picking Material Science is a good idea if I want to be able to find a well paying job after graduation? How viable is a Material Science degree as compared to some of the more "traditional" engineering degrees such as E&E or Chemical Engineering? What are my job prospects as a materials engineer?

    Thanks in advance :D
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2012 #2


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    Of course, we can't divine the future :smile:. But I'd say the prospects are pretty good, at least here in the Seattle area. Boeing employs them, for sure.

    With a degree that has a more narrow focus, the issue may not be availability but geography. There may be lots of jobs available...all in places where you don't want to live. This is less likely to be an issue with a more general degree, such as EE or ChemE.

    If you have or expect to have constraints in your life (such as caring for parents, or a spouse who can't move), think carefully before choosing an education with a narrow focus.
  4. Aug 23, 2012 #3
    I would argue that materials science can actually be more general/open-ended (i.e. not a "narrow focus" like the previous person stated) than EE or ChemE. Materials are seriously everywhere; everything you touch is literally a material! Whether it be coming up with the next ultra-hard, funky-colored, translucent, BPA-free water bottel or designing the process to physically make the next generation of 10-nm transistors -- that's in the realm of materials science.

    Lightweight but ultra-strong alloys and composites for airplane, military vehicles, satellites, or even mountain bikes.... materials science.

    Alloyed- or organic- semiconductors for enhanced energy harvesting in solar cells or energy-efficient lighting.... materials science.
  5. Aug 23, 2012 #4
    Something like "Materials Science" or "Electrical Engineering" can be either geographically general or focused. It entirely depends on your specialty. If you are an Electrical Engineer who focuses on Power Transmission, you can conceivably work almost anywhere in the country. If you have a much more narrow focus you have to do a nationwide job search ever time you look for work.

    My point is saying "Materials Science" is focused, or "Materials Science" is general is pointless. It depends on the specialty the student pursues.
  6. Aug 23, 2012 #5


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    You could make the same argument for physics and/or chemistry - it's everywhere, in everything. But trying to find a job in a specific geographic area with a physics and/or chemistry degree will likely be much harder than if you have a degree such as EE.
  7. Aug 23, 2012 #6
    I'm not sure what a BS Engineering degree in material science entails but I am a BS Chemistry who is considering going in to polymers and material science for my PhD. I would assume that the main difference between what I am considering and what you are considering is that I would work on developing new composites and alloys and you would fine tune the applications of such materials. Actually, that is the difference. However, I am not sure how extensive a bachelors in engineering is. The questions you have to ask yourself are: what am I truly interested in and am I more interested in the practical application or the science behind it. Of course, choose the field you are most interested in. If you are more interested in what you can do with something, become and engineer in that field. If you are more interested in what makes what you're interested in do what it does, become a scientist.
  8. Aug 23, 2012 #7
    the research in matsci and chemistry overlap significantly. same with physics. the difference is in their "traditional" fields where steel doesn't overlap with organic synthesis doesn't overlap with astro.

    But in things like... polymers... or optoelectronics... all 3 fields have significant resources.
  9. Aug 25, 2012 #8
    All energy fields, including tradiational and renewables, are hiring Materials Science graduates all the time.

    I just graduated from Mat Sci and got offers from power plants, car manufacturers (alloy and processing) and defence contractors. I took a job looking at corrosion.
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