Materials Scientists: Salary Overview
Materials scientists study substances and develop new and improved products.
They are also responsible for testing the quality of manufactured goods.
A materials scientist’s job description typically includes carrying out research projects, instructing other scientists and technicians on how to perform the processing and testing process, conducting tests, writing reports that detail the findings and the methods used, and presenting these findings to other scientists, engineers, and colleagues.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for materials scientists was $96,810 as of May 2019, which means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary depending on a variety of factors such as the industry of employment, region, experience, and education level.
The lowest 10 percent reportedly made less than $51,950 per year while the top 10 percent earned more than $133,690.
This profession is well-remunerated, especially for those who have some years of experience in the field, but the numbers show that salaries are usually higher than the national average for all occupations (which in 2019 was $39,810, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) even for less experienced employees.
Materials Scientist Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, material scientists held approximately 7,000 jobs in the United States in 2019, most of them working in research, in chemical manufacturing, for businesses that provide management services for companies and enterprises, or for computer manufacturers.
Materials scientists who worked in the research field reportedly earned $104,160 per year while those who worked for businesses that provide management services made $127,460 per year.
Salaries were lower for materials scientists employed by colleges, universities, and professional schools- a field where the average salary for this profession was $63,160 as of May 2019.
Materials scientists who worked for chemical manufacturers reportedly made $92,710 per year, on average while those who worked for companies that provide architectural, engineering, and related services made $86,900 per year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying field for this profession was the management of companies and enterprises sector.
A close-second were manufacturers of semiconductor and other electric components.
In this field, the average annual wage for materials scientists was $125,680 per year.
Materials scientists who worked for manufacturers of navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments reportedly earned $120,970 per year, on average.
Higher-than-average salaries were also reported by materials scientists who worked for manufacturers of other electrical equipment and components and for manufacturers of aerospace products and parts.
In these sectors, average salaries were $113,350 and $109,240 per year, respectively.
Salaries are also influenced by other factors.
One such factor is the education level.
Although a bachelor’s degree in materials science, chemistry, or a related field may be enough for entry-level employment, if you want to improve your advancement prospects you should also earn a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in your field of expertise.
Your communication and writing skills are also important, especially if you work in the research field because in this sector you will have to apply for funding and your earnings will depend on the type of projects you are involved in.
Regardless of your area of expertise and the industry of employment, as a materials scientist, you will have to learn throughout your career and to keep up with the new research advancements in your field.
Job prospects for this profession are looking good in the future, especially for materials scientists who have a Ph.D. or a master’s degree and for those who specialize in electronics, energy, and transportation.
According to BLS, overall employment for this profession is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Materials Scientists. 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.