Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Found data: salaries at IRIX Pharmaceuticals

So thanks to yesterday's discussion, I was pretty interested to see that IRIX has posted more positions and their salaries (incidentally, they'll be interviewing at ACS San Diego.) I think it's instructive for scientists and engineers to compare their salaries:

Scientist I (B.S. chemist, research associate (?)): 35-50k
Principal scientist (Ph.D. chemist, 2-3 years experience): 65-85k
Manufacturing engineer (BS/MS, supervisory level): 85-110k

With the help of GlassDoor, I ginned up a little graphic (above). For the young among us, it might be worthwhile to consider a career change? That said, the life of said manufacturing engineer doesn't sound very fun:

Applies complete understanding of organic/process chemistry and bulk pharmaceutical batch operations. Provides process-engineering support and troubleshoots routine and non-routine process and process equipment problems as necessary to meet all production and customer commitments in support of manufacturing bulk pharmaceutical (API) chemicals. Independently manages project activities and works as part of a team while communicating effectively to support rapidly changing business needs. Directs activities of workers who operate and control such equipment as reactors, pumps, valves, tanks, boilers, compressors, pipelines, and centrifuges to effect the required chemical or physical change.

I guess that extra $25k might help a manufacturing engineer to enjoy life more, I suppose. 


  1. Hey, it's GlassDoor! Incidentally, if you read the "employee reviews" section after searching a company, you get some good tidbits about the general sentiment of former employees towards the upper management. : )

  2. My story:

    I work in a hub area and according to the ACS salary survey, I'm in the bottom 10% of salaries for the area. I knew this going in, but I figured the opportunity to get entrenched in this area would offset the hit I was taking on money. Turns out I'm living very well. I could be doing a lot better if I had been smarter about student loans, but I'm very comfortable. I also haven't changed my standard of living very much since I was a grad student/postdoc, so that helps. But I don't have to skip out on nights out with people because I don't have $20 to spend, and I'm actually starting to save a good amount of money again. I'm happy.

    If you were to look at this situation purely from the salary survey, it would look awful. But salary is just one variable in the career equation, and I think that's an important thing to keep in mind. I enjoy my job, my boss isn't a sociopath, and I'm meeting people who have power/influence and can help me later down the road. Doesn't hurt that I don't have to work psychotic hours and I'm getting paid a LOT more than I ever did in grad school/postdoc. Was that worth sacrificing a little money? Sure.

    I have to say, I don't find $85K for South Carolina to be unreasonable at all. For the cost of living, that is damn amazing if you ask me. We all know that the days of 6-figure salaries out of grad school with a $20K bonus are over. We have a new normal to get used to, but this particular position is a lot closer to the golden days than many other jobs out there. If I was still on the market I'd be more than happy to take it.

    1. Re SC: With 1 caveat, I think that's fair. It looks (on Glassdoor, etc.) like a nice place to spend your career. Low cost of living, relatively high salary, (claimed) API work. That's exciting, and worth something. If I were on the market, I'd look at IRIX seriously, too. They're growing (or at least, they keep advertising on ACS Careers for the last 3ish years.)

      However: The range is 65-85k. Of the 3 commenters who've rung in on this issue, two have said $85k isn't so bad. It's higher than the top range reported on Glassdoor. Who's to say you're going to get the top of the pay grade? Glassdoor doesn't.

    2. Very good point. The average looks to be more on the $65K end, which doesn't sound as appealing. Again though, if you're coming out of grad school/postdoc and have a simple lifestyle and can maintain that, I bet you could do real well with $65K in SC.

      My only issue with $65K would be that when you look for another job, HR only looks at salary in an absolute dollar amount. It doesn't matter that with $75K in San Francisco you'd be living a lot worse than $65K in SC, they just see $65K and adjust your offer accordingly.

  3. Re the manufacturing engineer position - Quite a number of chemical companies have plants in South Carolina (and N. Carolina, too). So, IRIX would be competing with these companies for experienced engineers, and hence the $85,000 - $110,000 salary. That's about what BS/MS engineers with 10+ years of plant experience would be making.

    As an aside, the job description is basically what chemical engineers do when they're running a plant. It doesn't sound bad at all, if manufacturing is your thing.

    1. Yeah, I can see that. In working with engineers on a day-to-day basis, I'm much less excited by equipment than they are. "Reactors, pumps, valves, tanks, boilers, compressors, pipelines, and centrifuges" sound kind of boring to me, even though they really aren't.