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How do I Become a Materials Scientist?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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There are three items required to become a materials scientist: post-secondary training, related work experience, and laboratory skills. A materials scientist typically works in a laboratory for either a consumer product development company or a mining related company. The primary focus of this role is to investigate the properties of different materials, conduct experiments to determine the strength of the bonds between the molecules, and determine how the material can be modified or used to meet a specific need.

The materials sciences are also known as materials engineering. This field requires training in both science and engineering. Through materials engineering, new materials are created, existing materials strengthened, and new options made available. For example, nanotechnology was developed from a materials science perspective, and then expanded to become its own specialty.

People who want to become a materials scientist are typically detail-oriented, enjoy working independently, have a high degree of mental focus, and are typically very precise. The volume of knowledge required to be successful in this career is quite significant, and requires a high level of dedication and study. The most appealing part of materials science is the focus on creating new materials or changing the properties of existing materials. These types of developments have a huge impact on both product development, the cost of consumer products, disposal issues, and the long-term management of the environment.

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The first requirement to become a materials scientist is to complete a post-secondary education program. This is typically a university degree in materials science and engineering, which is available through the Faculty of Engineering at a wide range of universities. Career advancement in this field can be achieved through either further education or a solid work experience history.

Related work experience includes experience gained through a job placement program or internship during your studies. It is extremely rare for anyone without a formal post-secondary level training in materials science to obtain a position in this industry. Related jobs include research assistant, laboratory assistant, or materials analyst.

Laboratory skills are critical for anyone who wants to become a materials scientist. The vast majority of the day is spent in a laboratory, testing the properties of different materials, documenting the properties, looking at the types of bonds and conducting experiments to determine the different options with this material. These skills are taught during the post-secondary training. Accuracy, precision, and focus are all essential to achieving a high quality work product.

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