How Much do Chemical Engineers Make? Chemical Processing Reveals all in 2008 Salary Survey

Is it a tragedy or comedy for engineers? Survey results peak behind the curtain of readers' salaries and job satisfaction

By Ken Schnepf, Managing Editor

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Before you read the 2008 story, why not check out the 2012 Salary Survey results. Click here to see why we say that salaries are moving ahead, slowly.

As presidential candidates have learned, the state of the U.S. economy is taking center stage in this election year. While some observers say the performance may wind up wearing the mask of tragedy, chemical engineers appear to be more inclined to don the mask of happiness over their economic situations based on the results of the 2008 Chemical Processing Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey. For the third consecutive year, salaries, raises, bonuses and job satisfaction have shown improvement over previous years’ survey results.

In the four years we’ve run the annual online survey, the average salaries reported have steadily climbed from $85,234 in 2005 to $95,231 this year (Table 1). Average pay increases were 3% in 2005 and are now 5.06%. The average bonus received has risen from $4,534 in 2005 to $6,561 today. This year’s overall results reflected general contentment. Survey results were collected from a link listed in the print edition of Chemical Processing, on the, e-newsletters and e-mail blasts sent to readers.
A couple of comments provided by respondents reflect the overall tone of the survey results: “Chemical engineering is a flexible, useful profession with good compensation
and many opportunities to do different things and move into related fields (including management). No job is worth having if you can’t enjoy most of it. There is no good job that you will enjoy every aspect of. That’s why they pay us,” says one.

Table 1. Salary, raise, bonus and age information represent averages of the total respondents in each category.

“Chemical engineering is a great field. It prepares you for many different challenging opportunities. I believe that our biggest challenge in the future is to stop using petroleum for travel so that the remaining barrels can be saved for use in manufacturing chemicals, plastics and pharmaceuticals,” offers another.

Further delving into the survey results reveals the average age of respondents has continued to decline to 45.7 this year, compared to 47 in the first two surveys. The top three annual salary ranges for respondents are between $125,001 to $150,000 (85 or 8.2%), followed by the $100,001 to $105,000 category (77 or 7.4%) and then under
$40,000 (76 or 7.3%) range. For wage increases, 586 (56.6%) of respondents say they received a raise of between 2.5% to 5%. Another 147 (14.3%) say they received a less than 2.5% raise, while 112 (10.9%) got 5.1% to 7.5%. Additionally, 92 (8.9%) of respondents garnered more than 10% while 13 (1.3%) suffered a pay cut. Most people
reported having received a salary increase in less than one year (738 or 71.7%) compared to 2006 respondents when (770 or 63.5%) said the same.

Is your work satisfying?

Table 2. Challenging work has remained the top factor contributing to job satisfaction throughout the four years
the survey has been conducted.

Overall job satisfaction also improved (Figure 1) from previous years. An impressive 90% of respondents called themselves satisfied, with only 10% expressing dissatisfaction. Last year,7.9% of survey participants said they experienced a very high level of job satisfaction compared to 8.3% of this year’s respondents. Another 40.5% of this year’s respondents say their job provides a high level of satisfaction, which is an increase over the 38% reporting a high job satisfaction rate in 2007. This year, 41.2% of respondents say they are somewhat satisfied with their jobs which mirrors last year’s 41.5% who said the same.

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