There are approximately 27,700 materials engineers in the United States, which is a relatively small percentage of the workforce. Many different employers hire ceramics engineers for a variety of positions. They are involved at research, development, and manufacturing companies, electronics industries, and research and testing organizations. They work in industries that produce and process metal; machinery; electrical equipment; aircraft; and stone, clay, and glass products. They work in chemical industries that make and use ceramic products, as well as in computer and semiconductor industries. They also work in federal government agencies, at engineering consulting companies, and in consulting (where you will need your Professional Engineer licensing).
A bachelor's degree is required to become a materials engineer and most companies will require a degree from an ABET-accredited program. Most companies value experience, as well as education, so it would be advantageous to participate in a cooperative program while in college that combines practical experience while earning college credits. Engineering colleges will offer job fairs so be sure to attend these sessions to network with hiring agencies and submit your resume in person. It's also a good idea to create a LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters. You can also use LinkedIn to network and learn more about potential employers and the ceramics industry.
As engineers continue to gain research experience, they can apply for higher level jobs in production and marketing. After becoming familiar with the materials and products at their company or organization, they may move into management or supervisory positions.
Opportunities for advancement are available especially for those who continue their education throughout their work years. Technology is always advancing, and new products and applications continue to be developed, so if a ceramics engineer keeps up to date on issues in materials science he or she is more likely to succeed. Some engineers leave the field after many years to take top-level management positions in other industries. Education beyond the bachelor's degree level is available at a number of schools across the country. Those who want to pursue a career in college-level teaching and research need to have graduate degrees, usually a Ph.D.
Tips for Entry
Read publications such as the Journal of the American Ceramic Society, International Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology, and Advanced Materials & Processes to learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Attend industry conferences to network and to interview for jobs.
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.