version of the annual ACS salary survey. There were a number of articles:
- The overview of the ChemCensus, which I'm going to cover below.
- Two profiles of people (a professor and a recent Ph.D. grad) written by Andrea Widener
- Job advice from various ACS members
- As you can see from the graph on the right, it's pretty clear that salaries for chemists and chemical engineers haven't risen much against inflation (graph in 1984 constant dollars.)
- There were 23,843 respondents to the 2015 ChemCensus; I think that's a ~25-30% response rate, but I can't tell until the full report is released.
- The unemployment rate for ACS members in 2015 was 3.1%, which is up from 2014's 2.9%.
- "11% of members in 2015 accepted a job that paid less than their previous position to maintain employment."
- The coastal regions have the highest median salaries, with $118,000 being the median salaries for both the Pacific (WA, OR, CA) region and the New England (MA, CT, NH, VT, ME) region.
- "21% of members in 2015 said they do not have access to continuing education or technical training from their employer."
When Shahriar Mobashery got his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1985, chemistry seemed like a great career choice. “I thought the future was open,” the University of Notre Dame chemistry professor remembers. “In retrospect, that optimistic perspective was wonderful.”
Back then, graduate schools had a hard time keeping students from dropping out for high-powered jobs in industry. Even foreign students in need of visas were in high demand. “Everybody got jobs in the 1980s,” he remembers. But the optimism that pervaded chemistry departments when Mobashery was in grad school has since dissipated. “Our outstanding students and postdocs still do just fine,” Mobashery says. But average students don’t fare nearly as well.I agree with Professor Mobashery, in that we should be tracking how well the median student's income/unemployment is doing. Speaking of which, the quote from Dr. Zhang was eye-opening:
Not all of her fellow graduates have been able to find the job they’ve been searching for, Zhang says. They might be teaching part-time at the test-prep service Princeton Review or at a community college, doing computer programming, or carrying out a postdoc.
That picture fits with what the ACS ChemCensus data suggest about employment opportunities in 1985 and 2015. “It’s a lot harder to get hired with a Ph.D. in chemistry today,” she says.I wish I could disagree with her.
*Gotta say, I miss the graph-based format from the older coverage of the ACS Salary Survey; while the infographic approach is nice, I think the median reader of C&EN is used to tables of facts and figures. Maybe I'm wrong.