Nanomaterials Scientists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

In high school, take courses in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science (including database design). Be sure to take English and speech classes because you’ll need to be able to effectively convey your research findings to colleagues, as well as to those who may not have an extensive scientific background. 

Postsecondary Education

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement to become a nanomaterials scientist, but those with this credential typically work as lab assistants, technicians, or technologists. For research and managerial positions, many employers require a minimum of a master’s degree, or even a Ph.D.

A growing, but still small, number of colleges and universities (including Rutgers University, Rice University, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Central Florida) offer degrees or concentrations in nanotechnology or nanosystems engineering. Typical classes in nanosystems engineering programs include:

  • Nanoscale Mechanics of Materials
  • Nanoscale Kinetics and Transport
  • Crystallography and Diffraction for Nanomaterial Systems
  • Phase Equilibria for Nanoscale Systems
  • Mathematical Methods in Nanoscale Research
  • Practical Modeling for Nanoscale Systems
  • Nanoscale Analytic Techniques
  • Nanoscale Device Principles
  • Nanoscale Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Nanoelectronic Devices, Circuits, and Systems

Visit the following Web sites for lists of colleges and universities that offer degrees and certificates in nanotechnology, nanoscience, and nanoengineering: and

If you don’t attend a college that awards a degree in nanotechnology, an alternate educational strategy is to major in chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, or engineering (biomedical, chemical, electrical/electronics, or environmental) and augment your education by taking nanotechnology/nanoscience classes or pursuing a minor in one of these areas.


The Clean Tech Institute offers the certified nanotech and clean tech professional certificate, which is an eight-week certificate training program approved by the State of California and the California Energy Commission. Visit for more information.

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry offers certificate programs in laboratory management, testing, and technology. Each program consists of four to eight courses. Contact the association for more information.

Other Education or Training

Many nanomaterials scientists keep their skills sharp by participating in continuing education classes, webinars, seminars, and other professional development activities. Professional associations at the national and state levels provide these opportunities.

For example, ASME offers conference sessions and courses on nanotechnology, nanofabrication, nanometrology, biomateriomics, nanomechanics, design, quality control, professional ethics, materials science, and other topics. The Nano Science and Technology Institute provides short courses in nanomedicine, nanocomposites, and micro, nano, and biofluidics. The American Chemical Society offers courses on laboratory safety, statistical analysis, special topics in chemistry, and technical writing, as well as leadership development classes and career-oriented webinars. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Institute of Physics, American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Society of Cosmetic Chemists, and The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society also provide professional development opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Certification, while not required, is available from professional associations. For example, the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists offers the board certified environmental scientist designation for those who complete educational and experience requirements and pass an examination. The SME, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and other professional associations at the national and state levels provide certification. Scientists who obtain certification may receive higher salaries and improve their chances of landing a job.  

Other Requirements

Scientists seeking jobs with government agencies may be required to be U.S. citizens and undergo background investigations. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Aspiring nanomaterials scientists should participate in an internship, a co-op, or a part-time job during college to gain valuable experience. Such activities will also allow you to build your professional network, which could lead to a job offer after graduation.

Nanomaterials scientists must have strong communication, project management, and organizational skills; an analytical personality; and the ability to work both alone and as a member of a team. Other important traits include self-motivation, creativity, the ability to solve problems, and an excellent work ethic. Nanomaterials scientists must be proficient in using spreadsheet, database, and word processing software.