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Materials Scientist

Modern materials science is based on two traditional areas of science: the study of matter, using chemistry and physics, and the study of micro-electrics, metallurgy and plastics using various engineering techniques. 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 leading role in materials science as it provides information about the structure and composition of matter.

Materials scientists strive to find new materials that can be used in a broad range of fields, from aeronautics to optical fibres, for telecommunications and silicon microchips. They find out how materials react to different conditions, including temperature and pressure, and try to improve their performance. Breakthroughs in this field are likely to have a significant impact on the future of science, technology and engineering, with the creation of new materials that are intelligent, lighter and less expensive.

If you are interested in a career as a materials scientist, visit Qualifax (www.qualifax.ie) to search for relevant courses at all levels and entry points. 

Some alternative job titles for this role 

  • Materials Technologist
  • Nanotechnology Scientist
  • Metallurgist
  • Materials Engineer

What the job involves

  • Conduct research on the structures and properties of materials, such as metals, alloys, polymers and ceramics
  • Obtain information that can be used to develop new products or enhance existing ones
  • Prepare reports, manuscripts, proposals, and technical manuals for use by other scientists
  • Perform experiments to study the nature, structure, physical and chemical properties of materials
  • Plan laboratory experiments to confirm feasibility of processes and techniques used in the production of materials having special characteristics
  • 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
  • Create methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials

How your career can develop

A degree in materials science can open doors to a wide range of industries and provides you with knowledge in manufacturing, processing and the fabrication of materials.

Why it matters?

Materials scientists have recently proclaimed graphene, previously used to make graphite used in pencils, as the possible successor to the silicon chip. 

Skills

  • Operations analysis 
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • A high standard of numeracy
  • IT competency and computer-modelling experience
  • Research and report-writing skills
  • Creative and independent thinking
  • Commercial awareness and business skills

Typical employers

  • Aircraft and aircraft component manufacturers
  • Aerospace and defence manufacturers
  • Car and transport manufacturers
  • Medical devices
  • Plastics and polymers
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Electronics industry
  • Nanotechnology research

Typical salary 

  • Graduate/Starting    €35,000 to €45,000
  • Senior/Potential      €45,000+

Typical qualifications

A bachelor's degree, preferably in chemistry, materials science or nanoscience, is the normal entry point. Many professionals pursue postgraduate studies to further their careers.

Alternative routes to a bachelor’s degree in this area may apply to students that have a PLC qualification in a related course or general chemistry certification or diploma. For further details on eligibility requirements for third level entry following a PLC qualification, students should visit the CAO course search at Careersportal.ie.

Further information