2017 AIChE Salary Survey: Expanded Analysis

June
,
2017

This is an expanded version of an article that appeared in the June 2017 issue of Chemical Engineering Progress.

Chemical engineers continue to earn more than the average U.S. worker. The median salary of survey respondents is $124,000 — 2.4% lower than the median reported in 2015.

The results of AIChE’s biennial salary survey are in and they provide a mixed outlook of the chemical engineering profession.

The median annual salary of survey respondents working full-time is $124,000, which is 2.4% lower than the median of $127,000 reported in 2015. In comparison, the previous salary survey reported a 5.8% increase in median salary between 2013 and 2015 (Figure 1).

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Figure 1. The median salary for chemical engineers this year is slightly lower than the median reported in 2015.

The decrease in median salary was unexpected. A factor contributing to the decline may be that this year’s survey was conducted by a different research and analysis firm. In taking a fresh look at the data and methodology, they identified several procedural changes that could improve the accuracy and reliability of the report. We feel that this year’s data provide a better baseline for future comparisons.

Median salaries ranged from $70,450 for chemical engineers with fewer than three years of experience to $156,000 for those with more than 40 years in the workforce. Numerous other factors — including age, gender, education, job function, and industry — were also examined for their impact on chemical engineers’ paychecks. In addition, for the third time, AIChE looked at the influence of time off for family reasons on salary.

Table 1. Base salary trends, 1992–2017.

Year of Survey*

1st Decile

1st Quartile

Median

3rd Quartile

9th Decile

1992

$40,400

$48,000

$59,700

$74,500

$95,000

1994

$42,000

$50,000

$63,600

$80,000

$101,000

1996

$44,000

$54,000

$68,200

$85,000

$105,000

1998

$44,500

$55,000

$72,000

$90,000

$110,000

2000

$49,000

$61,000

$77,200

$95,000

$114,500

2002

$53,500

$65,000

$84,000

$103,000

$124,500

2005

$60,000

$75,000

$92,150

$115,000

$140,000

2007

$67,540

$83,700

$103,730

$129,408

$158,000

2009

$69,230

$88,421

$110,950

$140,000

$180,000

2011

$67,200

$87,000

$110,000

$140,000

$177,700

2013

$70,000

$94,075

$120,000

$150,000

$195,000

2015

$72,000

$97,000

$127,000

$160,000

$200,000

2017

$58,000

$70,000

$124,000

$140,000

$175,000

* Data generally reflect the previous year’s salary, as most questionnaires were deployed in February or March of the year of the survey.

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