Monday, June 9, 2014

Why STEM is TE: 2014 starting salaries edition

From the executive summary of that NACE 2014 starting salaries survey referenced in the previous post (below emphasis mine): 
In the first report for Class of 2013 graduates, computer sciences graduates began the year with a healthy increase of 4.3 percent to their overall average starting salary. However, in the September 2013 and January 2014 Salary Survey reports, their average salaries dropped by 2.5 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. In this April 2014 issue, average starting salaries appear to be making a comeback, as the overall salary for the group rose almost 3 percent to $61,741. Two individual majors within the computer sciences category posted increases as well, with the starting salary to computer science majors rising by 3.9 percent to $67,300, and the starting salary to information sciences and systems majors increasing by 2.3 percent to $58,400. 
Starting salaries to engineering majors remained nearly flat. Their overall average salary rose just 0.3 percent to $62,719. Movement in starting salaries by individual majors was split evenly, as half of the reported disciplines showed increases and the other half decreases. While the reigning top-paid major, petroleum engineering, has a very high average starting salary of $95,300, it had one of the lowest increases, at just 1.9 percent. Industrial/manufacturing
engineering majors saw the highest increase of 9.1 percent, bringing their average starting salary to $61,400. 
Graduates in the math and sciences fields saw an overall increase. As a group, their average starting salary rose 1.6 percent to $43,414. Specific mathematics majors posted a small increase of 1.1 percent to their average starting salary, bringing it to $50,400. Physics majors, on the other hand, saw their average salary decrease by almost 5 percent to $40,600. Chemistry majors, the only other group that witnessed a decrease, posted a decrease of 2.8 percent, dropping its average starting salary to $45,000.
Well, that's not good news. I wonder how the ACS starting salary survey for 2014 will look. I don't have a lot of experience with this data set, so I am not sure how much to believe it.

For those who care, here's NACE's Wikipedia page, explaining who they are and below is the methods section from the executive summary of that survey. (The main report costs $315):
...Data contained in the NACE Salary Survey are produced through a compilation of data derived from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and a master data set developed by Job Search Intelligence. Data for the April 2014 Salary Survey report were retrieved in February 2014, and were compiled using a proprietary methodology created by Job Search Intelligence. 
The April 2014 Salary Survey issue contains employer-based data from approximately 400,000 employers; gathered from government and other sources, the data are actual starting salaries, not offers. 


  1. Is the average starting salary including starting for PhD + Bachelor's level chemists? $45K seems way too high for a new chemistry graduate, $30-35K is more reasonable in my experience.

    1. I am thinking the 45K is only an average figure, depends on location and the size of the company. But you're right, I was getting 45K offers with my M.Sc.

    2. Definitely too high. I'm being offered $33,300 annualized 6 months after graduating with a Bachelors in Biochemistry. The company absolutely would not budge on their offer. Small low cost city and the company is a CRO/Contract Manufacturing Development Organization.

      I think the problem with a lot of these reports is that they go ahead and use the numbers for Chemists / Biochemists and Biophysicists without recognizing that a graduate degree or several years of experience is required for these position titles. Instead, they should be looking at the data for Chemical Technicians / Biological Technicians to get an accurate picture of where baccalaureate graduates are landing.

  2. So things are pretty bad then. The figures for engineers probably include less PhDs proportionally than science graduates and they are still beating us heavily "trained" science graduates.

  3. These figures are for bachelor's graduates only:

  4. Its a good thing they dont include PhDs salary into their figures. If you include PhDs for engineers, the salary for engineers would be alot higher. Will only make science grads feel even worst.

  5. My starting salary as a newly graduated chemist was $30k in 2005 here in Washington state.