Chemists who graduated during the 2002–03 academic year can be congratulated for their accomplishment, but not for their timing. Last fall, they entered a job market that was still softened by a persistent inability of the economy--which has been growing in gross domestic product terms since late 2001--to consistently generate jobs in significant numbers.
This decoupling of economic growth from jobs growth was reflected in fewer full-time permanent jobs for chemistry graduates. It was also related to a spotty starting salary performance compared with the previous two graduating classes.
According to the latest annual American Chemical Society survey of the starting salaries and employment status of chemistry graduates, the median salary of inexperienced 2002–03 Ph.D. graduates was $63,300. This was down from $67,500 for the previous class and from the all-time high of $69,500 for the 2000–01 class.
The survey also indicates that for inexperienced master's chemistry graduates, there was a 2001–02 to 2002–03 salary dip from $45,000 to $44,500. For bachelor's graduates, the 2002–03 median of $32,000 was up by $1,000 from the previous year. But it remained below the all-time high of $33,500 for the 2000 class.
Inexperienced graduates are defined as those with less than 12 months of technical work experience prior to graduation.
As to employment, 37% of 2002–03 chemistry Ph.D. graduates found full-time permanent jobs. This was down from 45% for the three previous classes. And over this same period from 1999–2000 to 2002–03, the corresponding declines have been from 35% to 24% for bachelor's graduates and from 56% to 41% for master's graduates.
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