Materials Science and Engineering

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There are lots of starting points for choosing a career and using your subject is just one of them. You are not restricted to the career ideas below and you may wish to consider additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Remember too that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject and so your options are much broader than the examples given below.

Firstly, have a think about what ‘using your subject’ means to you and what you’re really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it’s a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

Using your subject can help provide you with some focus for your career research, but the broader your interests the more career options you will have open to you. Use our resources below to stimulate your thinking.

Generating career ideas with Materials Science and Engineering

Using the resources below you can start to create your own list of career ideas to research

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Materials Science and Engineering graduates on Prospects and TargetJobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject. Our Information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start.

Some career ideas for Materials Science and Engineering graduates

Materials engineer

Materials engineers can be involved in all areas of the production and development of materials such as ceramics, polymers and plastics. Their work may involve developing prototype materials, and testing the strength and durability of existing materials, as well as their resistance to factors such as heat or corrosion. You may be required to inspect plants and improve the efficiency of existing processes. You may be employed to develop materials for a range of industries, including telecoms, oil and gas, textiles and glass amongst others.

Metallurgist

Metallurgists are involved in the production of metals and alloys from the extraction to the processing stage. This may involve development of new materials, analysing their properties and applications, as well as developing existing metals to improve their strength and resistance to corrosion. Technical skills and knowledge are a high priority for this role, as are innovation and the ability to present complex information. Postgraduate study may be required dependent on the position.

Design engineer

Using your technical knowledge, mathematical and design skills you will create innovative solutions to technical problems working from initial concept, through to design, prototype, testing and development. Projects may focus around software, components, machinery and vehicles to name a few. In this role you will need strong technical knowledge, CAD design skills as well as problem solving, communication, leadership and project management skills.

Product/process development scientist

Product development scientists develop new scientific ideas to improve products, as well as develop new products to take to market. The role can involve analysis of existing processes and materials and can be plant, lab or office based. Data on safety and reliability of a product will be studied, as well as evaluation and setting of performance objectives.

Chemical engineer

Chemical engineers use their technical skills and knowledge to design and produce products for a range of industries, including consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and oil and gas. Essentially, you would be turning raw materials into products. You may be lab, plant or office based and will need to implement new technologies, configure equipment and work to stringent safety regulations.

Procurement

If you want to apply your understanding of engineering processes, equipment and components within a more commercial role, then procurement may be an option to consider. This can involve purchasing and supply of components or services from second and third tier suppliers, negotiating contracts and quality guidelines. This role requires communication, negotiation and persuasion skills, numeracy and the ability to build and maintain strong client/customer relationships.

Supply chain management

Similar to the above this requires an understanding of engineering components and processes but involves the planning, design, supply, monitoring and logistics of getting components and services of the right quality to the right place at the right time within budget. This requires exceptional time management, planning, problem solving and commercial awareness.

Finance

Away from technical roles, you can apply your numeracy, business awareness and analytical skills to a more commercial role in finance. This could vary from investment management and banking to financial management or accounting roles.

Business analyst

This role may suit you if you enjoy evaluating and analysing data, creating solutions and communicating with a variety of people. As a business analyst, you'll work with an organisation to understand their products, services and the industry sector they operate within. You’ll identify their future needs and challenges and help them to plan for the future and manage change in line with their company goals often in relation to information and software systems.

Teacher

If you have enjoyed the aspects of your course such as physics, maths, technology, and are energised by sharing your love of the subject with others and thinking of new and engaging ways of presenting your knowledge, you might enjoy teaching as a career. Obviously depending on the level of teaching, experience of and an ability to establish rapport with the relevant age group would also be a prerequisite as would good leadership and time management skills.

Subject specific resources