Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Salary quintiles from the 2005 ACS ChemCensus

Apropos of some discussion of salaries on Twitter and in the comments, I dug around until I found what I wanted, which is the salary comparison of both academic and industrial chemists by education, experience and quartiles/quintiles. This data is thanks to the 2005 ChemCensus, performed by the ACS Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs. (I anxiously await the 2010 ChemCensus results.) The tables were taken from the individual academic and industrial reports. 

It would be terribly interesting to see what the top 1% of academic and industrial chemists make. Are there income inequality trends among chemists? I don't see why they would be immune to broader trends in the United States. 

28 comments:

  1. Since the UC system is partially tax funded, all the salaries are public information, and searchable online. I sampled some of the bigger names and came up with salaries always above $200k, with most approaching $250k. There were one or two outliers that were significantly lower, approaching what an assistant prof would make, but I assume these people get piles of money outside the university payroll system from his or her book sales, patents, speaking engagements, etc and choose not to pay themselves from their grant money or teach many courses.

    http://www.sacbee.com/statepay

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  2. Why isn't there data for fledgling Ph.Ds? Are they automatically considered to have 5+ yrs experience after their Ph.D?

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  3. Experience is determined for time after B.S. Presumably, they're not Ph.D.s 2-4 years after their bachelor's degrees (maybe I have that wrong, but that's my interpretation.)

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  4. ...unless they're from the UK! Isn't the PhD over there still 3 years? :)

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  5. Since most companies target 50th percentile for most employees, the after tax difference between starting PhD salary and the highest salary (around 25 years experience, as it appears salaries drop if you have more experience) is around $24K per year. That experience really pays off in chemistry. Note a PhD's salary will increase 45% over that 25 years, but a BS salary will increase 84% over that time period.

    Academics have always been underpaid and over worked even if you take into account their salaries cover only 9 months work (annual salary would be 12/9X the number listed). They must do it for love and glory not money, which is why I viewed an academic career path as a personal financial debacle.

    You can never make compensation comparisons to the superstars; they are just different than the rest of us.

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  6. Does Vollhardt still have a Ferrari parked outside the Chemistry building at Berkeley? Good times.

    Chemistry is 100% ruled by the same income inequality... I think of it as the superstar system, where a top percentile player is worth 10x or 100x a person the next level down. Think about the universities hiring methods; if they don't find a suitable candidate they don't go down the list, they wait until a new batch of superstars is available for hire.

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  7. The superstar application to business and academics really got going in the 80's when ballplayers and movie stars started commanding outrageous salaries for hitting a ball or acting in a block buster. The comp consultants began to apply the logic of superstars to CEOs and other very special people like Wall Street bankers and hedge fund clowns. This is why bringing in a superstar from outside a company rather than grooming within became the thing to do. The movement of executives and professors among employers jacked up salaries for those who could get competing bids.

    Reality TV has taken superstardom to an all new level. You can become famous and rich in your our personal 15 minutes by just being stupid on the Jersey shore.

    On the other hand people who do make the world work by doing important stuff like inventing drugs are just a cost center to be off-shored to save a nickel. Do something significant in the laboratory or on the shop floor and just maybe you will get to keep your job a few years longer until the next downsizing.

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  8. Does Vollhardt still have a Ferrari parked outside the Chemistry building at Berkeley? Good times.

    According to that link, Toste makes more than he does....

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  9. Interesting! Vollhardt had a decent-selling textbook in the 90's. As the first anon says, it's the outside consultancies, publishing and licensing where the money's at.

    Wasn't there a similar search for Illinois? I wonder how much Hartwig is making at Cal after being top paid at UIUC.

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  10. http://data.illinimedia.com/salaries/index

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  11. Wow, I did not realize Hartwig moved again. Berkeley, good for him.

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  12. Shit, I don't even make the 10% for my group. Any body else feel like they are seriously getting hosed?

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  13. Anon3:38, I sure do. I'm unemployed!

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  14. @Anon4:32 How long have you been unemployed? Have you gotten any interviews, even for temp positions?

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  15. OMFG, Hartwig gets paid more than Denmark or Katzenellenbogen! He also makes like 150% more than M. Christina White. Why are the Urbana-Champaign salaries higher than those at the Chicago campus? Shouldn't urban salaries be higher because of higher living costs?

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  16. White just got promoted to full professor. I'm sure he got a nice boost. Her hubby was promoted to associate prof as well. Be interesting to see how long they stay in the middle of nowhere. (pretty campus, but still in the middle of nowhere...)

    As or the salary difference between UIUC and UIC is prestige, not location.

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  17. Should 'she got a nice boost...' of course

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  18. Minor point, but UC and UIC are different schools.

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  19. @zoidberg: I meant University of Illinois at Chicago (not UChicago) vs. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I'm still surprised that UIC's chemistry salaries are consistently lower than UIUC's. Aren't they both controlled by the same regents?

    @pfizered: Does the prestige-based salary disparity also hold true for the University of California system? Are the Berkeley salaries higher than those at UCLA, San Diego, Irvine, etc., even though California is just plain expensive and places like Irvine actually have more reputable synthetic organic and atmospheric programs?

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  20. It is well worth remembering that with the amount of talent and hard work these people put in to get where they are they could have easily pulled ten times more, had they gone into law or business. Why do you guys need to count their money anyway?

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  21. test test test - CJ

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  22. Slightly off-topic, but does everyone get bombarded with begging letters from the ACS when their membership is about to run out? I just opened a bright yellow "3rd notice" which contains a genuinely pathetic letter which seems utterly desperate for me not to let my membership lapse.

    I can't wait to see what the 4th reminder looks like

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  23. @6:47

    I haven't been a member for years, but when I started my current job ACS started sending me invitation letters - it looks like someone in the main office sold/donated my address to them. I take a particular pleasure in attaching a GFY note and sending it back in prepaid envelope.

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  24. Anon6:45, I've had a couple interviews, but they didn't go my way. Only been unemployed a few months, but it doesn't take long for the novelty of having nothing to do every day to wear off. I'm ready to start working!

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  25. A7:00a: Interested in telling me your story (anonymously)? E-mail me at chemjobber -at- gmaildotcom.

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  26. anon 10:45

    Does the prestige-based salary disparity also hold true for the University of California system?

    I don't know, but it would be comparing apples and oranges. Here it's only UIUC and UIC in the Illinois system along with a Springfield campus.

    The location of UIC is pretty much irrelevant because UIUC draws the main body of talent. It's much, much larger and is the flagship of the system. If you choose to go to UIC to get your PhD in chemistry versus UIUC, you need to have your head examined. (one can discuss needing to get your head examined choosing to get a PhD in chemistry anywhere right now, but that's another argument)

    I'm not knocking UIC, it's a good school, but it would be like comparing the University of Wisconsin, Madison with the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

    UIC's main gig in the system is the medical school. If you go to the University of Illinois for medical school, you're spending your time at UIC because of the proximity to Chicago. Most everything else is very much UIUC centric.

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  27. >Does the prestige-based salary disparity also hold true for the University of California system?

    Somewhat. I was researching assistant professor salaries prior to taking my current state R1 position. Berkeley and UCLA pay a little more than places like Davis and Irvine. At the asst. professor level, there's less of the free agent factor that causes huge salary variation between the bigwigs.

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  28. http://www.collegiatetimes.com/databases/salaries

    Another good link, if you're not already aware of it.

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