Census of chemists shows modest gain in earnings

August 16, 2000

Median annual salary rises 3 percent to $70,000

The median salary for chemists has increased to $70,000 annually, according to the annual salary and employment survey conducted by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. The findings are reported in the current (August 14) edition of Chemical & Engineering News, the Society's weekly newsmagazine.

Salary gains kept pace with inflation, increasing nearly 3 percent from the year before. Unemployment levels dropped to 2 percent while the share of members with full-time jobs remained stable at nearly 93 percent. The remaining 7 percent of chemists without full-time jobs remained unchanged for the third consecutive year.

Overall, the chemistry job market has changed little during the past three years despite the strong economy and low rate of unemployment. The lack of job creation, slight salary increases and growing opportunities in other scientific fields led the publication to speculate that chemists face a job market in transition.

The percentage of women chemists continued its steady rise, to 24.8 percent from 21.8 percent five years ago. Women, however, are paid less than their male counterparts, according to the survey. Median salaries for women respondents were approximately $56,000, more than 32 percent less than the male median salary.

Approximately 60 percent of chemists responding to the survey held a Ph.D. as their highest degree, and most - 62.2 percent - worked in industry. Nearly 80 percent were native-born Americans and 85.6 percent were white. Eleven percent of chemists identified themselves as Asian, 1.9 percent as black, and 2.6 percent as Hispanic.

Median salaries ranged from $53,100 for a chemist with a bachelor's degree to $79,000 for a chemist with a doctorate. Industry pays the most, followed by government and academia. Chemists tend to be paid most on the east and west coasts. Most chemical engineers work in industry and earn at least 25 percent more than chemists.

Though black and Hispanic chemists have lower median salaries than white and Asian chemists, their salaries are commensurate with their levels of education, according to the survey. Women chemists are also younger and less likely to have a Ph.D., according to the survey.

The report is based on a census of all working ACS members; 42,000 members submitted completed questionnaires. ACS conducts a salary census every five years and surveys a sample of 20 percent of the membership the rest of the time. The last census was conducted in 1995.

The full report, called "Salaries 2000," will be available this fall from the American Chemical Society.
A nonprofit organization with a membership of 161,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

American Chemical Society

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