Volume 93 Issue 44 | p. 30
Issue Date: November 9, 2015 | Web Date: November 8, 2015

Who Are The American Chemical Society’s Members, And What Do They Earn?

The 30th anniversary of a comprehensive salary survey shows what has changed—and what hasn't—about ACS members
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: Employment, salary, acs members, diversity

Think back to 1985. Michael Jordan was NBA Rookie of the Year. Microsoft released its first version of Windows. “Back to the Future” was one of the top movies. Gas cost an average of $1.09 per gal.

The year 1985 was also when the American Chemical Society started its ChemCensus. Although ACS does a smaller salary survey every year, ChemCensus is a comprehensive look at ACS members’ demographics and earnings that’s conducted every five years. That means it offers the most reliable data on the makeup of ACS—way more accurate than time travel via DeLorean.

To mark the 30th anniversary of ChemCensus, C&EN explored what ACS’s membership looked like in 1985 compared with 2015. We interviewed two members who got their Ph.D.s in those years to get their perspective on how the job market has changed (see page 32). We also present some of our top job advice from today’s members (see page 33).

As the data show, the situation is not all roses for chemists. Salaries are up in real dollars, but if you take inflation into account, they have barely budged in 30 years. Unemployment is up from 1.7% in 1985 to 3.1% this year, which is high for chemists but still below the national average unemployment rate.

Still, there are bright spots, no matter how small. Diversity of ACS members by both race and sex is increasing. For example, women now make up more than 30% of members, double their representation 30 years ago. There are more African American, Hispanic, and Asian members, too.

Sift through the data, and decide for yourself what the future might hold for the chemistry profession.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society
Comments
Michael (Thu Nov 12 19:37:28 EST 2015)
How does a Bachelor's earn more than a Master's in West South Central?
Linda Wang (Fri Nov 13 10:50:46 EST 2015)
Hi Michel, yes in fact, this is true. We don't have state-specific data, but that is true for the West South Central Region. I don't have information on why this is the case, but it is very interesting.
Linda Wang (Mon Nov 16 13:46:10 EST 2015)
I spoke with Gareth Edwards, Senior Research Associate at ACS, speculates that the salary difference may be because master’s degree level jobs are in less demand. That may be because jobs for chemists often require a Ph.D. as a starting point. So there may be a dip for Master’s because of that.
Vinod Sinha (Fri Nov 13 00:06:15 EST 2015)
How ironic that in real terms (constant dollars)the salaries of chemists at all educational levels has declined over the last decade. It would be a revelation to see the salary data compared with those of the CEO compensation of chemical companies.
Linda Wang (Mon Nov 16 13:46:59 EST 2015)
I agree, the data reveals an unsettling trend, something we need to keep an eye on.
Tom Jablonowski (Wed Nov 18 11:19:50 EST 2015)
In past years the data also was shown as salary vs. years since graduation. Why isn't that info part of the published info? Since you're averaging new graduates with 40-years experienced chemists, the data is not as useful as it used to be.
Linda Wang (Mon Nov 30 10:36:46 EST 2015)
Tom, thanks for your comment. We focused on the 30 year data this time because of the ChemCensus anniversary. However, ACS will publish a report later this year that includes more data, including salary vs. years since graduation. Look for it in the coming weeks at www.acs.org/salary.
David Kurzweg (Thu Nov 17 17:33:03 EST 2016)
In the past, the physically published article about the annual salary survey was much more comprehensive. The article would give such detailed statistics as how long each category had worked and how much they made based on years of work. I could not find any such facts in either the magazine article or the internet article. Is this information available this year and if so, where can I find it?
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