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Employment

The job landscape for new chemistry graduates

Salaries and unemployment rate haven't improved for chemists just out of college

by Andrea Widener
September 5, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 35

 

Newly minted bachelor’s degree chemists continue to face high unemployment and flat salaries, according to an annual survey of recent graduates by the American Chemical Society.

Growing diversity
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Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock
The percentage of black graduates is up from 4.4% in 2014. The percentage of new graduates who identify themselves as Hispanic is also up, from 7.6% in 2014.
Note: The question of Hispanic origin was asked separately.
Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock
The percentage of black graduates is up from 4.4% in 2014. The percentage of new graduates who identify themselves as Hispanic is also up, from 7.6% in 2014.
Note: The question of Hispanic origin was asked separately.

The unemployment rate for chemists earning bachelor’s degrees in 2015 is down to 12.3% in 2015 from 13.2% in 2014—and a peak of 14.9% in 2013. But it remains far higher than for chemists overall, who had an unemployment rate of 3.1% in 2015 (C&EN, Nov. 9, 2015, page 30).

Of new bachelor’s degree recipients who got jobs, slightly more found permanent positions in 2015: 29.8%, compared with 28.0% in 2014. The group’s median salary rose from $40,000 in 2014 to $41,000 in 2015.

The largest number of recent bachelor’s degree grads—33.9%—went on to graduate school, down from 35.1% in 2014. And this year, for the first time in at least a decade, the survey shows that the median salary for men and women is equal, at $40,000.

The survey includes respondents at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels who graduated between July 2014 and June 2015. The following tables and charts highlight data from 1,542 bachelor’s degree awardees because they made up the vast majority of respondents.

This is the last time C&EN will be presenting this and other surveys in this format. ACS is changing how it is surveying its members to get a more accurate view of whom ACS members are. We will be changing how we report that in response. More details are coming soon.

For more on the survey, visit bit.ly/2bLc3vv.

Note for all graphs: Survey of new graduates in chemistry, chemical engineering, and related fields at universities that agreed to share their information with ACS. Data collected between October 2015 and January 2016 from 1,974 people who graduated between July 2014 and June 2015. Only bachelor’s degree data reported. A total of 1,542 responses were collected from bachelor’s degree recipients.

Bound for grad school
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The largest percentage of recent college graduates went on to graduate school, followed closely by those who got full-time, permanent jobs. The unemployment rate of 12.3% is slightly lower than that reported in 2014.
Who makes the highest salary?
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Median salaries for recent college graduates varied widely by degree, field, and experience, according to ACS’s 2015 survey.
a Full-time, permanent employees only.
Chemistry leads the pack
Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock
Of recent grads who went on for an advanced degree, the largest percentage went to chemistry graduate school, followed closely by those going into medicine.
Equal pay for women
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Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock
The median salaries for women and men who earned bachelor’s degrees are equal in the 2015 survey at $40,000 for the first time in at least a decade, though it was close in 2009.
Note: Salaries in current dollars.
Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock
The median salaries for women and men who earned bachelor’s degrees are equal in the 2015 survey at $40,000 for the first time in at least a decade, though it was close in 2009.
Note: Salaries in current dollars.
Born in the U.S.A.
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Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock
Only a small fraction of recent chemistry graduates with bachelor’s degrees are in the U.S. on temporary visas. That contrasts with the large percentage of doctoral students who come to the U.S. on temporary visas.
Credit: C&EN/Shutterstock
Only a small fraction of recent chemistry graduates with bachelor’s degrees are in the U.S. on temporary visas. That contrasts with the large percentage of doctoral students who come to the U.S. on temporary visas.
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Comments
Fenton Heirtzler (September 7, 2016 3:55 PM)
The continued obsession of C&EN with "fresh" chemists, "younger" chemists, etc. is only serving to alienate unemployed mid-career chemists from the ACS.

Please regard the following assertion, regarding the 1-second response which the average person and the authors of the preceding article will give to the following question: "what is the opposite of "new"?" The answer would certainly not be "in the middle". And how about the word "recent"? The attempt to dodge this issue through use of the euphemism "younger" is therefore very transparent.

Here's a second question for the authors of this article: let's imagine that an airplane or bus is filled with chemists and 100% of the seats have been taken. The captain proclaims that "new" or "recent" chemists should have more seats. Which chemists should lose their seats to accommodate this request?

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