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How to Become a Materials Engineer

Bachelor's degree

Materials engineers are responsible for planning and evaluating a variety of new projects. As such, they have to consult with numerous people. Typically, materials engineers have a bachelor's degree in engineering or materials science or some related field. Practical experience is additionally valued by employers. Participating in cooperative engineering programs enable students to complete their studies while gaining structured job experience.

Education & Training

Individuals interested in studying materials engineering would do well to take the following classes during high school: trigonometry, mathematics, calculus and algebra. Science classes such as physics, chemistry and biology are also useful.

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level positions. Both laboratory and classroom programs constitute on the principles of engineering. Many universities and colleges offer cooperative programs so that students can earn college credits and gain practical experience simultaneously.

Certain universities and colleges offer a 5 year program that allows students to graduate with a master's degree and a bachelor's degree. Those who wish to be an instructor at university or college or work in research and development often need a graduate degree. There are some 5 or 6 year cooperative plans that combine practical work with classroom study. This enables students the chance to finance a portion of their education while also gaining practical experience.

The majority of engineering programs are ABET accredited. Certain employers prefer to hire individuals who have graduated from a program that is accredited. An ABET accredited program is often necessary for those wishing to become a licensed P.E. or Professional Engineer.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Even though licensure is not an occupation requirement; certain states license materials engineers. Professional engineers or PEs is the designation earned by licensed engineers. The following are typical licensure requirements:

A) An ABET accredited engineering program

B) A passing score on the PE or Professional Engineering exam

C) Relevant work experience

D) A passing score on the FE or Fundamentals of Engineering exam

After graduating college, the first FE or Fundamentals of Engineering exam can be taken. Those who pass this essential test are commonly referred to as EIs or engineer interns or EITs or engineers in training. Once an appropriate amount of work experience has been obtained, EIs and EITs can take the Principals and Practice of Engineering; the second exam.

Continuing education is common in order for engineers to maintain their license. The majority of places accept non-local licensing if the licensing meets or exceeds local requirements.

Certification in the art and science of focusing on the structure of alloys and metals is known metallography. It is available through numerous organizations. ASM International provides additional training for topics connected directly with the properties of the metal and metallurgy including: failure analysis or corrosion.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Analytical skills: Materials engineers commonly work on projects related to specific engineering fields. They have to be capable of determining how materials will be used in a variety of conditions. They need to determine how the materials need to be structured in order to withstand those requirements.

Math skills: Materials engineers commonly use the principals of advanced math topics and calculus for troubleshooting, designing and analyzing their work.

Problem-solving skills: It is vital that materials engineers understand the relationship between the structure of materials and their properties. The means of processing these materials and how all of these details affect the overall project need to be taken into consideration. These professionals are responsible for finding a design solution after determining why a product. Numerous tests have to be implemented to ensure the product will not fail in the future. Having the ability to identify root causes and troubleshoot is important when numerous factors could be involved.

Speaking skills: Materials engineers commonly supervise other engineers, technologists and technicians. They need to be able to communicate their directions and concepts clearly. These engineers have to articulate their ideas when speaking at high level meetings and communicate a variety of engineering concepts to an audience without an engineering background.

Writing skills: Materials engineers have to write reports and plans clearly so that individuals without a materials engineering background may grasp the concepts.

How To Advance

Those starting their career as materials engineers often work alongside and under the supervision of more experienced engineers. Within large corporations, new engineers may receive formal training in seminars or a classroom environment. As experience and knowledge is gained, more difficult projects and tasks can be undertaken. Over time, a greater independence in regards to design development occurs along with the capacity to make decisions and troubleshoot issues.

Materials engineers may eventually decide to supervise other teams of engineers or become technical specialists. They may become engineering managers or take on a sales approach or a managerial position. Having an engineering background is helpful within sales as it allows engineers to discuss the technical details. This working knowledge helps to assist in the use, installation and product planning for each product.