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Occupation Details

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Materials Scientist / Technologist

Job Zone

Education
Most of these occupations require qualifications at NFQ Levels 7 or 8 (Ordinary / Honours Degrees) but some do not.

Related Experience
A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, you may need to complete three - four years of college and work for several years in the career area to be considered qualified.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Job Zone Examples
Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, computer programmers, chemists, environmental engineers, criminal investigators, and financial analysts.

€32k > 60
Materials Scientist
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€32 - 60
Related Information:
Data Source(s):
Morgan McKinley

Last Updated: July, 2015

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
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At a Glance... header image

Studies the properties and uses of a range of materials, such as metals, glass, plastics and electronics.


Videos & Interviews header image

The Work header image

Modern society is constantly evolving and so too is the development of advanced materials such as lightweight composites for transport applications, optical fibres for telecommunications and silicon microchips for the information revolution.

Materials scientists and technologists are the people behind these developments - they study materials and their uses, working with an enormous range of materials, from basic matter like atoms and molecules, to metals, plastics, cement, glass, sand and electronics, towards determining ways to strengthen or combine materials and develop new products. They also try to enhance existing products. 

Scientists and technologists find out how materials react to different conditions, including temperature and pressure, and try to improve their performance. They may produce written reports of their findings.  
 
In many industries, high performance materials are vital; for example, metals used in aircraft must be strong, light, and reliable. Scientists test metals at high temperatures to simulate conditions in the aircraft's engines. They do routine tests to identify defects and failures in the craft. They adopt a forensic approach, searching for subtle evidence of corrosion or weakness in metals.  
 
Oil refineries use high temperatures and pressures. These can cause corrosion, with the risk of liquids and gases leaking into the environment. Because corrosion may only be visible at a late stage, scientists constantly monitor for clues. They may research longer-lasting or stress-resistant materials, keeping up-to-date with advances in technology throughout the world.  
 
Materials scientists and technologists may work in engineering. For example, they help to design aircraft, oil refineries and nuclear power plants. They must take into account the cost and availability of materials, and the need to develop new ones.  
 
In the nuclear industry, they investigate defects in the structure of buildings and advise on welding and techniques like thermal lagging. They support and advise engineering staff, and supervise repairs. 

Materials scientists work to strict standards, including government and European Union legislation. Some work as project leaders in industry, developing materials that meet or surpass fire safety regulations. They use X-rays to analyse the internal effects of extreme temperatures on materials like metal and glass.  
 
Material sciences in industry may visit international customers to find out their technical requirements, or to explain the latest technological developments.  
 
Materials scientists investigate properties, composition and structure of matter and the laws that govern the combination of elements and reaction of substances. Chemistry plays a dominant role in materials science as it provides information about the structure and composition on matter.


Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation

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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.

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Prepare reports, manuscripts, proposals, and technical manuals for use by other scientists and requestors, such as sponsors and customers.

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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.

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Plan laboratory experiments to confirm feasibility of processes and techniques used in the production of materials having special characteristics.

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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.

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Teach in colleges and universities.

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Devise testing methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials.

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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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Confer with customers to determine how to tailor materials to their needs.

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Recommend materials for reliable performance in various environments.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.

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Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge: Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

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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.

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Thinking Creatively: Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

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Getting Information: Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

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Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings: Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

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Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events: Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

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Processing Information: Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

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Making Decisions and Solving Problems: Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

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Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work: Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.

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Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others: Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.


Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mathematics: Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

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English Language: Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.


Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.

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Science: Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

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Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

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Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

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Operations Analysis: Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.

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Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

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Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

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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.

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Active Learning: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

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Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

To become a Materials scientist or Technologist you must be interested in the practical use of science, especially maths, physics and chemistry. You will need a patient, methodical and investigative approach to research and development.  
 
Materials scientists and technologists often work in teams with other specialists. You must be able to express your findings clearly, both verbally and in writing, to team members. You will need good interpersonal and communication skills to deal with customer enquiries.  
 
Computer and technology skills are very important in this career. You may look up the properties of a material on a computerised database, use X-rays to examine the internal changes high temperatures cause in metals, or use a simulated environment chamber to test the effects of gaseous pollutants on buildings.  
 
You must be willing to learn and develop new knowledge and keep up-to-date on scientific advances throughout the world. You should like working with your hands, building scientific apparatus, and performing laboratory experiments, and should also like computer modeling.


Entry Routesheader image

A bachelor's degree in physics, chemistry, materials science, materials engineering, or a related discipline is typically the minimum educational requirement for entry to this career area. Research jobs will require a master's degree a PhD level qualification.

Several colleges and universities countrywide offer degree programmes in chemistry, physics, and engineering. Degree programmes in materials science and engineering are also available.

Those interested in a career as a materials scientist should consider courses in science and mathematics. In addition to required courses in analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, undergraduate chemistry, subject areas such as biological sciences, mathematics, physics, and increasingly, computer science. Combining chemistry and advanced screening techniques is also popular. Materials scientists end engineers also need basic statistical techniques.

Lab experience, either in academic laboratories or through internships, fellowships, or work-study programs in industry, is also valuable. Some employers of materials scientists or engineers, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, prefer to hire individuals with several years of postdoctoral experience.

There are many emerging and growth areas where materials graduates can find career openings including:

  • Nanotechnology
  • Biomedical materials
  • High-performance textiles
  • Composites and
  • The development of sustainable materials

Last Updated: October, 2014


Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image

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Organisation: European Space Education Resource Office Ireland (ESERO)
Address: Discover Science & Engineering, Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, Dublin, 2
Tel: (01) 607 3014
Email: Click here
Url Click here

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Organisation: Engineers Ireland
Address: 22 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge Dublin 4
Tel: (01) 665 1300
Email: Click here
Url Click here

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Organisation: Institute of Physics in Ireland
Address: Department of Physics, University of Limerick, Limerick
Tel: (061) 202 290/ (01) 708 3953
Email: Click here
Url Click here

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This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...


...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Engineering & Manufacturing
Biological, Chemical & Pharmaceutical Science
Biomedical Technologies & Medtech
Physics, Mathematics & Space Science

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