Starting salaries lower for 2003 chemistry grads, C&EN reports

04/21/04

The starting median salary for 2003 chemistry Ph.D. graduates declined by some $4,000 from 2002, according to the latest American Chemical Society survey of starting salaries and employment status reported in the April 19 issue of Chemical & Engineering News. The weekly newsmagazine is published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

C&EN notes that last fall chemistry graduates entered a job market weakened by the continued inability of the U.S. economy to consistently generate significant numbers of jobs.

The apparent decrease in starting salaries for new M.S. and new Ph.D. chemists actually reflects a shift in employment patterns, according to the ACS Department of Career Services. Its 2003 Starting Salary Survey shows that an increasing proportion of new chemistry Ph.D.s took relatively lower paying academic positions. In particular, in 2002, 20.5 percent of new and inexperienced Ph.D.s found employment in academic positions, 69.9 percent worked in the industrial sector, and 9.6 percent found government positions. In 2003, the proportion of new Ph.D. graduates in academic positions increased to 35.3 percent, while the proportion in industry fell to 61.2 percent. The number in government positions declined to 2.3 percent. A total of 1.2 percent were self-employed, a category that did not exist in 2002.

According to the survey, the median salary for inexperienced Ph.D. graduates was $63,300 compared to $67,500 for the previous class and an all-time high of $69,500 for the class of 2000-2001. The survey also reported that starting salaries for inexperienced M.S. chemistry graduates dropped slightly for 2001-2002 from $45,000 to $44,500. For bachelor's graduates the 2002-2003 salary of $32,000 was up $1,000 from the previous year, but remained below the all-time high of $33,500 for the class of 2000.

Inexperienced graduates are defined as those with less than 12 months of technical work experience prior to graduation, the survey notes.

With regard to employment, the survey shows that 37 percent of 2002-2003 chemistry Ph.D. graduates found full-time permanent jobs, down from 45 percent for the previous three classes. For the same period, from 1999-2000 to 2002-2003, the corresponding declines have been from 35 percent to 24 percent for bachelor's graduates and from 56 percent to 41 percent for master's graduates.

Some graduates do not seek fulltime jobs, but, rather, prefer post-doctorate positions or to pursue additional courses of study, the ACS Office of Career Services notes.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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