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What Is a Metallurgical Engineer?
A metallurgical engineer is a type of materials engineer who specializes in the development, processing, and testing of metals. Job duties are varied and may depend on the place of employment; metallurgical engineers often work in the industrial sector for manufacturing firms, foundries, mining companies and scientific organizations.
Often, metallurgical engineers employ their specialized knowledge of metals to solve quality or efficiency problems, performing what is known as failure analysis. This process entails researching and determining the cause of a component failure and making recommendations to improve future performance. Metallurgical engineers may work in teams with other engineers or technicians on a production floor, or they may work in a laboratory environment.
|Educational Requirements||Bachelor's degree in metallurgical/materials science or relevant engineering field (e.g. chemical engineering)|
|Job Skills||Functional knowledge of relevant metals and properties, familiarity with equipment used, mathematical skills, strong analytical and problem-solving skills, computer skills, teamwork skills, organizational skills, ability to communicate effectively with co-workers and customers|
|Median Salary (2019)*||$74,614 (metallurgical engineers)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)**||2% (all materials engineers); 8% (all engineers)|
Source: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
For metallurgical engineering positions, a bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement. Many employers seek applicants with a bachelor's degree in materials or metallurgical science, though depending on the position, a degree in a related engineering field may suffice. More senior positions may also require a master's degree or higher. Many metallurgical engineering positions demand practical knowledge of the job, which can only be gained through work experience. As such, an internship in the field may be helpful for prospective metallurgical engineers.
Metallurgical engineers perform a variety of highly specialized and technical tasks that tend to be unique to the job and employer. Metallurgical engineers learn these tasks through a combination of education and experience, though having an aptitude for mathematics and problem solving can be helpful on the job, as can a working knowledge of metals and metallurgical processes, testing methods, laboratory equipment, computer software, and safety standards.
Moreover, because metallurgical engineers can work in teams to root out the causes of material failures and develop new ways to improve product efficiency, they must have the communication skills to clearly articulate their findings and recommendations to their peers as well as to different company departments and customers.
Career Outlook and Salary
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for all materials engineers should grow about 2% from 2016 to 2026. This is slightly slower than the projected growth for engineers as a whole (8%) as well as all occupations (7%). Industries focused on innovation, such as aerospace and medicine, should always see some demand for materials/metallurgical engineers. However, many of these engineers work in traditional manufacturing industries, which are generally expected to decline during this time period.
As of May 2017, the BLS reported that the median salary for all materials engineers was $94,610 ($45.48 an hour), with PayScale.com reporting median salaries of $74,614 a year for metallurgical engineers in January 2019.
Individuals interested in the engineering field might also want to consider the following careers: