Nanotechnoligists work with some of the smallest and most fascinating fragments of science. This field focuses on the study and development of materials on the smallest scale, relating to the practical application of nanoscience to improve the lives of others. 

Those who earn a degree in nanotechnology acquire a broad base of knowledge from areas of science and engineering. Using concepts from chemistry, biology, quantum physics, and electronics, graduates can work across many areas of research and design as they manipulate matter measured in the billionths of a meter. The goal is to improve products, materials, and processes to better the lives of others. 

Whether you are considering a career as a nanotechnology engineer or already have some work-related experience, earning a master’s in nanotechnology engineering will provide you with many exciting opportunities. The job outlook for this career is excellent, meaning you are investing in your future. Once qualified, you can work toward a wide range of specializations to access competitive salaries and unique work environments. 

This guide covers everything you need to know about getting your education and building a successful career as a nanotechnology engineer. There are even options to earn your degree online. 

What Is Nanotechnology Engineering?

Some of today’s most significant scientific and engineering breakthroughs are happening at smaller scales than earlier scientists could have imagined. Although this field is all about working small, incorporating aspects of biology, chemistry, electronics, and quantum physics — nanotechnology has a significant impact. 

According to the United States National Nanotechnology Initiative, nanotechnology is “science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers.” One nanometer is a billionth of a meter. To put this into perspective, a sheet of newspaper is around 100,000 nanometers thick. This rapidly expanding field impacts society in many ways, ranging from more accurate medical diagnostic equipment to improved vehicle fuel efficiency. 

Becoming involved in this rewarding field of study begin with your education. Once you earn your Nanotechnology Engineering degree, you have options across many rewarding careers. Here are some examples:

  • Materials engineer — This exciting career will allow you to create materials and products at the atomic level, including those needed for communications, defense, and aerospace. 
  • Medical scientist — This ideal career is if your goal is to help people live happier, healthier lives. You will conduct and interpret clinical trials as you impact humanity through the latest medical research. 
  • Chemist — If you’re interested in atomic and molecular science, you can conduct groundbreaking research as a chemist. As you research how substances react with one another, you can progress across numerous industries. 

Why Get a Master’s in Nanotechnology Engineering Degree?

When you earn a Nanotechnology degree, you will be able to enter an exciting field full of discovery. 

Nanotechnology students come from all backgrounds and have individualized goals. However, they all share one key thing in common — an interest in applying the science of the very small. This exciting field opens many doors, providing opportunities in alternative energy, medical diagnostics, electronic devices, and more. 

Earning a master’s in nanotechnology engineering degree will prepare you for leadership roles that make a difference. You can enter emerging high-tech industries specializing in your chosen engineering or science discipline, enter the healthcare field, or specialize in consumer product development — to name a few. 

You can earn competitive pay and work within unique roles as your career progresses. With Nanotechnology master’s degree programs, you are investing in your future. For example, a chemist and material scientist can make upwards of $129,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While making a competitive master’s in nanotechnology salary, you can also make a difference in the lives of many. Becoming a nanotechnology engineer is a rewarding career, and earning your master’s degree is the first step. 

How Much Does a Nanotechnology Engineering Degree Cost?

The cost of a Nanotechnology Engineering degree will depend on several variables, including the school you attend and the length of study. 

For example, at the University of Pennsylvania, you can earn your master’s in nanotechnology either on-campus or online. The cost will depend on the number of courses. A full-course load costs $32,796 for the year, adding up tuition, technology, and clinical fees. This total does not include housing and dining costs, which are over $10,000 and $5200, respectively, plus transportation, books and supplies, health insurance, and personal expenses. In contrast, online education costs $13,376. 

Online programs offer the same level of education for those trying to cut costs. These programs can significantly cut down the total bill, particularly for those who need to move away from home. The difference can be significant when factoring in the savings related to food, transportation, and housing. However, the right fit for you will depend on whether you wish to access research labs and other facilities related to your goals. 

When comparing schools, remember that some will charge per semester and others charge a set fee per credit. Again, this will all depend on your program of study. For example, at the University of California, Riverside, the cost per credit hour is $875 when participating in the school’s online Master of Science in Engineering program specializing in materials at the nanoscale. The total tuition for an online nanotechnology rngineering degree would be $29,988. Additional fees include those required for books and supplies. There is also an $80 non-refundable application fee. 

When comparing in-state and out-of-state costs, these can be significant. For example, a Master of Science in Nanotechnology program at the University of Central Florida costs $369.65 per credit hour, compared to $1,194.05 per out-of-state credit. A total of 30 credit hours is required. 

Nanotechnology Engineering Degree Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the future of nanotechnology engineering looks bright. Nanotechnology engineers are encompassed in the listing for biomedical engineers. However, there is also an overlap with material engineers. Based on 2021 BLS data, the median pay for bioengineers and biomedical engineers is $46.83 per hour or $97,410 per year. This median salary is similar to that of a materials engineer, which is $98,300 per year. However, your salary will largely depend on your niche or industry. 

For example, those involved in electromedical and navigational manufacturing make over $108,000 yearly, whereas those in research and development make over $98,000 annually. Overall, the lowest 10% earned less than $60,680, and the highest 10% earned more than $154,750. 

The job outlook for these engineers is projected to grow 6% from 2020 to 2030. This rate is as fast as the average for all occupations. Over the next decade, there will be around 1,400 job openings yearly. These openings will result in workers transferring to other disciplines or leaving the labor force. Employment growth will result from increasing technologies and their applications — for example, advances in medical equipment devices, smartphone technology, environmental sustainability, etc. There may also be a need for greater collaboration with other engineering disciplines, such as mechanical, chemical, or electrical. 

Common Courses in Nanotechnology Engineering Degree Programs

Your school and specific area of interest will determine the courses you take. In most cases, the first few semesters are relatively standard, requiring you to take a particular list of courses — plus your chosen electives. Course courses will become clearer once you focus more on your area of specialization. 

Some of the core courses you can expect to take include:

  • Introduction to Systems Engineering
  • Principles of Engineering Management
  • Technology Innovation and Strategy for Engineers
  • Nanoscale Science and Engineering
  • Introduction to Microelectromechanical Systems
  • Engineering in the Global Environment
  • Engineering Economics 

Most often, the curriculum will include various courses because nanotechnology is a highly interdisciplinary field. For example, at Penn Engineering, educators prepare the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovative engineers. When earning a degree in nanotechnology, courses are organized into three areas — synthesis, materials, and nanofabrication; devices and fundamental properties; and biotechnology. Students must also take entrepreneurship courses. For this degree, a research thesis is not required. However, many students will use the facilities and labs to conduct independent research. 

Other FAQs About Nanotechnology Engineering Degrees and Programs

What can you do with a Nanotechnology Engineering degree?

Once you earn a master’s in nanotechnology engineering, you can pursue many exciting career paths. These careers fall under the categories of industry, academia, and start-ups. For example, most graduates work towards a career in software, healthcare, and electronics. However, a large portion becomes entrepreneurs or works in manufacturing. 

Some sample careers include a software performance engineer, optical display engineer, semiconductor process and material engineer, biomedical engineer, technology consultant, material researcher, chemical process engineer, etc. 

How long does it take to get a Nanotechnology Engineering degree?

Earning your master’s in nanotechnology engineering takes an average of two years, following a bachelor’s degree, which takes three to four years to complete. That said, degrees are based on the number of required courses. Therefore, some students take longer to earn their degrees. The flexibility of an online nanotechnology degree allows you to earn credits at your own pace, which might be your only option as you work and earn your education.  

What degree do you need to be a nanotechnology engineer?

Earning a bachelor’s degree is a stepping stone toward a master’s degree. Although you can begin to work in a specialized field after earning your bachelor’s degree, the hiring process will likely be more straightforward when you hold a master’s degree. You can also expect a higher pay range. 


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