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Payday: Everyone looks forward to it, but just how much cabbage you bring home each pay period depends on what you do and in which sector you work. Changing market conditions have prompted Chemical Processings editors to take a closer look at salary to obtain a clearer picture of the chemical processing industry as it continues to evolve. The result is our first-ever salary survey, which has yielded some interesting insights into the workplace experience of you, our readers.
The good news
If youre a chemical industry professional, your paycheck is relatively bountiful; the average median salary of a chemical industry professional according to our survey is about $85,000, with 1,205 industry participants nationwide responding (Table 1).
|Year of education||16 (Bachelor's degree)|
|Field of study||Chemical engineering|
|Years in chemcial industry||22|
|Industry||Pharmaceuticals/industrial organic chemicals/engineering, construction and consulting|
|Overall job satisfaction||Satisfied|
This is comparable to the median salary for a chemical engineer with six to eight years of experience on www.Salary.com, which reports a typical salary of $81,370. Chemical engineering is categorized on their Web site as a high-income-level position.
Whether you earn more or less depends upon a combination of many factors, some of which are becoming more important to those in the chemical industry than in the past.
About 85% of the respondents received a raise during the past year (Figure 1). About 37% received a 1.6% to 3% raise; 26% were given a 3.1% to 4.5% boost in income. Those who work in the petroleum and refining sector earned the most, with an average salary of almost $91,000 (Figure 2). Engineering, construction and consulting employees have the next-highest incomes, with an average of a little more than $90,000 per year. Those who specialize in paints, varnishes and allied products have the lowest average income, earning a little more than $78,000 per year.
About two-thirds of respondents also received bonuses. The largest share of respondents, 17%, received a bonus of $2,500 to $5,000 (Figure 3).
Many respondents also enjoy a broad roster of benefits. Almost all (97%) have health insurance, and almost as many (93%) have a 401(k) plan. Dental and life insurance are nearly as widely available (Table 2).
|Benefit||Percentage of respondents|
|401(k) savings plan||93|
|Education cost reimbursement||61|
One of the factors eating away at take-home pay is the cost of health insurance. More and more of you are reporting that employers are requiring you to pay a larger portion of your insurance and health-care costs than in past years. This trend is tied to the year 2000 recession, during which sagging profits prompted many companies to pass on the rising cost of health care to employees. Although the economy is slowly recovering its health, employers are still requiring employees to shoulder the insurance cost burden, a trend that is not likely to reverse itself.
According to our survey, many in the industry worry about the bite health care costs are taking out of their paychecks. Although the majority of respondents received raises during the past year, insurance costs are eating away at their take-home pay. Although benefits are provided [by the employer], the co-pay portion of these benefits has outpaced our annual raise, rendering a loss in income every year before inflation is even considered, says one survey respondent. It is very discouraging to continually give your all for the company and to feel not supported by upper management as they up our co-pays to keep profits up.
Another says, The amount I have to pay for medical insurance has increased significantly every year for the last five years. A third respondent takes a look at the big picture by saying, Benefits are rapidly declining, or the cost is increasing. Health-care costs need to be addressed before the average person cant afford any health care, even with insurance.
Respondents were given the opportunity to comment anonymously about certain aspects of their jobs, and comment they did. Responses ran the gamut, from very optimistic about the future of the field to being quite gloomy about chemical industry prospects.
Many hinted at the changing nature of the chemical field; some perceive it to offer a less stable career path than in decades past. Some say its a field in which you must be a top performer to reap a high salary.