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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Fewer respondents reported a poor level of job satisfaction (8.2%) than those who reported the same in the 2007 survey (10.4%). There were also fewer respondents (2%) who say they have very poor job satisfaction compared to 2.4% in that category last year.

Figure 1. Job satisfaction continues to slightly improve with a few more respondents very satisfied and a few
less unsatisfied.

Lack of recognition remains the leading downside most respondents identified about their jobs (Figure 2). This year, 41% of survey participants and in 2007, 41.2% most often identified lack of recognition as what they disliked about their jobs.

The hours and workload was selected by 30.6% of participants as what they dislike most about their jobs. This was closely followed by the company work environment which rankled 28.7% of respondents most.

Split on public perceptions
Similar to last year, half of this year’s survey respondents say that negative public perception of the industry bothers them, while the other half say that it doesn’t (Figure 3). The same was true for those who responded to the 2006 survey.

Figure 2. Lack of recognition remains the top reason for job dissatisfaction among survey

“The perception of the ‘big bad chemical industry’ goes counter to the fact of the many benefits that the industry has brought to the world,” explains one respondent. “I would like to see Hollywood show what the world was like before safe water, food, and relatively cheap energy, all of which was either brought directly or indirectly to
its current state thanks to the CPI.”

Another survey participant offers this observation: “I have never noticed that negative public opinion of the industry extends to the workers in the industry. The public seems just as likely to think of me as somebody working inside the industry to reduce emissions, improve products, and otherwise counter the perceived ‘negative’ aspects of
the industry. Most people use and appreciate the products of our industry even if they have a sort of general, media-driven disapproval of the chemical industry as a whole.”

People don’t give the industry a fair shake, says one respondent who is troubled by negative public perceptions: “It bothers me that the public thinks that gasoline prices are high because of the oil companies, when the truth is that the oil companies efforts are the reason why gasoline in the U.S.A. is so plentiful and less expensive compared to most countries, especially those that can’t produce as much oil as they consume in products (like the U.S.). The profit margin on a barrel of petroleum products is less than most any other commodity in America. It’s just that the volume demand in the U.S. is so high that even a small margin looks huge when multiplied by the sheer volume. The public doesn’t look at how big the companies have to be and how much capital outlay and expenses they have to incur to realize any earnings in the industry. The public will gladly pay $1 for a quart of bottled water that cost 5 cents to produce, but complain
about paying $3 for a gallon (75 cents for a quart) of gasoline that cost $2.75 to produce.”

How secure is your job?

Figure 3. Negative public opinion of the industry is a split issue with respondents

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