2021 AIChE Salary Survey

The 2021 AIChE biennial salary survey was deployed in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, after months of massive job loss and pay cuts, with businesses across the country struggling to stay afloat during mandated shutdowns and restrictions. Nevertheless, the results of the 2021 survey reveal positive growth for the chemical engineering profession in the U.S. The median annual salary for participants of the 2021 survey is $138,500 — an almost 10% increase over the 2019 median salary of $126,000.

In comparison, the 2019 salary survey reported a 1.6% increase in median salary between 2017 and 2019 (Figure 1 below). Despite global economic decline, the chemical engineering profession has continued its overall trend of rising salaries. From 2002 onward, salaries for chemical engineers have almost consistently increased.

Median salary by year


Figure 1. The median salary for chemical engineers increased significantly in 2021.

However, although the salaries of AIChE members sustained positive growth during the onslaught of COVID-19, the pandemic has significantly affected the careers of many chemical engineers. This year, we found that 9% of respondents took time off due to COVID-19. In another poll conducted over email, 26% of 284 respondents reported taking time off (either voluntarily or not voluntarily) due to the pandemic.

This year, we accounted for how factors such as race, in addition to age, gender, education, industry, and geography, affect salaries. We also asked important questions about professionals hoping to go back to school.

More statistics in the survey

Members can read a comprehensive summary of findings in the June 2021 issue of CEP Magazine, whether in print or in CEP online. The full survey results include the following, and more:

  • Number and age of survey participants
  • Gender and number of employees
  • Median salaries of respondents by race and gender [new]
  • Median salaries by gender, age, and experience
  • Impact of COVID-19
  • Median salaries by education level
  • Percentage of respondents returning to school
  • Median salaries of respondents by supervisory responsibilities
  • Median salaries of respondents by industry categories
  • Median salaries of respondents by job function
  • Median salaries of respondents by geographical location