Polymer Engineering Education and Career Information

Sep 24, 2019

Polymer engineers require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and licensure to see if this is the right career for you.

Polymer engineers work in the realm of developing or testing plastics or related equipment and processes. A bachelor's degree in a related major is necessary. These engineers may develop new polymers, manage a lab, manage projects and processes, or design equipment.

Essential Information

Polymer engineers work primarily in the field of plastics development. They may help develop new plastics or assist in the testing and evaluation of products. Polymer engineers may be expected to maintain a laboratory or oversee other employees in working on a product or process. They need a bachelor's degree in polymer engineering or a related subject, and they may need a state license.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
License State license may be required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 0% for materials engineers
Median Salary (2018)* $92,390 for materials engineers

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Education Information for Polymer Engineers

Employers normally require prospective employees applying for jobs as polymer engineers to hold at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, such as polymer engineering, polymer science, materials engineering and mechanical engineering. Often, those with a master's degree or doctorate can find career advancement much easier.

A bachelor's degree in polymer engineering frequently includes courses in subjects such as physical and organic chemistry, calculus, higher mathematics, physics, fluid mechanics, mechanics of deformable bodies, electronics, computers and English. Students may also be required to complete a combination of elective courses in subjects that include languages, social science, history and the humanities.

In all 50 states, polymer engineers who wish to work directly for the public must obtain a license. This affects education because it normally requires an engineer to graduate from an education program accredited by ABET, Inc. In some states, engineers must also complete continuing-education requirements in order to retain their licenses.

Career Information

Polymer engineers may work in areas that include the development of new polymers, equipment design for polymer processing, project engineering and process management. Assembling and managing a laboratory, testing or evaluating products, coordinating studies, designing new substances and optimizing processes are all common facets of a polymer engineer's job.

Polymer engineers may work in many fields, including thermoplastics (polymers that change state from liquid to solid based on temperature) or elastomers (flexible polymers that are often used as seals, gaskets or adhesives). Polymer engineers may seek advancement by becoming technical specialists or by entering management and sales.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have salary or employment outlook data for polymer engineers; however, the related field of materials engineers reported a mean annual salary of $96,930 as of May 2018. Between 2018 and 2028, materials engineers could see minimal or no change in employment growth, the BLS noted.

Polymer engineering is related to the field of materials engineering. A bachelor's degree is necessary, and related majors include materials engineering, polymer engineering, polymer science or mechanical engineering. A graduate degree may also be useful for aspiring polymer engineers.

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