Materials Engineers: Salary Overview
Materials engineers develop and test materials that are used to create a large variety of products, from computer chips and aircraft wings to biomedical devices.
A materials engineer’s job description includes planning and evaluating new projects, preparing proposals and budgets, supervising the work of other staff, designing and directing the testing phase, monitoring how materials perform in a variety of situations, determining the cause of product failure, evaluating technical specifications, and evaluating the impact of materials processing on the environment.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for materials engineers was $93,360 as of May 2019 which means that half of all materials engineers earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary based on a wide range of factors, including experience level, education, the industry of employment, and the region.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $57,340 while the highest 10 percent made more than $148,960 per year.
Materials Engineer Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, materials engineers held about 27,700 jobs in the United States in 2018 most of them working for transportation equipment manufacturers, in the field of engineering services, for computer and electronic manufacturers, or in research.
The report published by BLS shows that the average annual wage reported by materials engineers in the field of architectural, engineering, and related services was $94,420 per year.
Materials engineers who worked for aerospace products and parts manufacturers reportedly earned $112,630 a year while those who worked in scientific research earned $107,520 a year, on average.
The average annual wage was $117,530 for materials engineers in the federal executive branch and $90,400 for those who worked for semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest average annual wage was reported by materials engineers in computer systems design and related services- a sector where they were remunerated, on average, with $119,840 per year.
Salaries for materials engineers also vary depending on the region of employment.
The report shows that the top-paying states for this profession were New Mexico, Maryland, Tennessee, Louisiana, and California.
The average annual wage reported by materials engineers in New Mexico was $124,780 while those who worked in California earned $107,570 per year on average.
The lowest average annual wages were reported in Montana and Kentucky where materials engineers earned $65,110 and $74,720 respectively.
Besides industry and region of employment, there are many other factors that determine a materials engineer’s salary, including education and experience level.
Although a bachelor’s degree in materials science or engineering is enough for employment in this field, earning a master’s degree in your field of expertise may improve your earning prospects.
Another factor that can help you get pay-raise is earning a Professional Engineering license.
This will give you a higher level of independence but can be acquired only after earning a few years of experience in the field.
Your salary will also increase gradually as you earn more experience in the field.
As a junior materials engineer, you will most likely earn a salary that is closer to the minimum for this profession but after earning a few years of experience you may be promoted to a supervisory position- a promotion which usually comes with a pay-raise.
Employment for materials engineers is projected to show little or no change in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Engineers with this type of expertise will continue to be needed to design new materials in industries such as aerospace manufacturing, medical and scientific manufacturing.
Job prospects and earning opportunities will be better for those who have participated in internships or co-op programs in college.
Being familiar with computer modeling and simulations will also improve your employment opportunities.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Materials Engineers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.