Chemical & Engineering News

July 28, 1997

Copyright © 1997 by the American Chemical Society

Chemical engineers do a little better than chemists

Analysis of the responses to the American Chemical Society's 1997 salary survey by 552 chemical engineers in the workforce indicates that they are somewhat better paid then their chemist colleagues. Also, their employment situation is a little better.

Chemical engineers showed higher median salaries at all degree levels. For Ph.D.s, their median of $80,000 exceeded that of chemists, $71,000, by 13%. For master's degree holders, the difference was 24%--$69,800 compared with $56,200. For those with bachelor's degrees, it was 20%--$59,300 to $49,400.

These differences partly reflect the fact that 74% of the chemical engineers responding work for generally higher paying industry. This compares with 62% of chemists.

If the comparisons are restricted to chemical engineers and chemists employed in industry, the advantage in median salary for chemical engineers almost vanishes for Ph.D.s, dropping to $79,800 versus $78,100. However, it remains a substantial $10,000 for both those with master's and bachelor's degrees--$70,000 versus $60,000 and $60,000 versus $50,000, respectively.

Of the chemical engineers in the workforce responding to the survey, 3.0% were without full-time jobs. This compares with the 6.4% of chemists who responded. Part of this difference is due to the much lower number of chemical engineers on postdocs or fellowships, 0.7%, compared with chemists, 2.3%. Chemical engineers are also somewhat less likely to be employed part time--1.4% compared with 2.1% of chemists--and much less likely to be unemployed, 0.9% compared with 2.0%.

The demographics of the chemical engineers responding indicate that 11% are women, compared with 22% of the chemists. The percentage of minority chemical engineers, 21%, is essentially the same as for chemists.