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2014 Spectroscopy Salary Survey


Our annual salary survey took a look at the employment markets faced by spectroscopists in 2014, and the results were surprising. The average salary has decreased for the first time since 2008, with government and nationally funded laboratory employees experiencing the biggest drop in average salary. Here is a selection of statistics that we collected this year:

Salary and Employment Field:

The average salary was $81,990. Respondents in the Northwest had the best-paid jobs with an average salary reported of $106,318.

The primary field of analysis was analytical chemistry with 57% of respondents, followed by: 9% environmental; 7% pharmaceuticals; 4% agriculture/food; 3% biotechnology; 2% electronics/semiconductors; 2% energy and petroleum; 2% forensics and narcotics; 5% instrumental design/development; 2% medical biology; 2% metallurgy; 3% organic chemicals; <2% plastics/polymers/rubber, <2% ceramics; and <2% inorganic chemicals.

Employment Status:

The lowest average salary ($80,339) was reported by respondents who have been with their current employer less than 10 years, whereas the highest average salary of $96,975 was reported by respondents with more than 40 years service with their company. However, the numbers of respondents who stay with the same employer for this length of time are significantly declining.

  • In 2014, 45% of respondents reported service of less than 10 years (average salary $80,339), compared to 18% in 2013, and 20% in 2012.
  • In 2014, 2% of respondents reported service of more than 40 years (average salary $96,875), compared to 5% in 2013, and 10% in 2012.

Employer Investment and Employee Satisfaction:

We asked respondents to indicate the financial incentives that employers offer, and documented the following responses:

  • 81% of respondents receive healthcare coverage through their employer (down from 90% in 2013)
  • 56% have a retirement or pension plan (60% in 2013)
  • 53% have a 401(k) account (71% in 2013)
  • 11% get childcare benefits (10% in 2013)
  • 9% receive no benefits (5% in 2013)

These responses indicate the provision of financial incentives has decreased over the last year. However, we also investigated the provision of training by employers — whether or not employees are invited to attend in-house seminars and training courses — and found the following:

  • More than half of respondents, 67%, are invited to seminars (44% in 2013)
  • 85% are invited to training courses (55% in 2013).

Reviewing Career Choices

Just over half of respondents (51%) would recommend their career as a fulfilling one to a recent graduate, whereas 11% would not. We also asked for the best career advice respondents had received during their career. Responses ranged from “work hard” and “challenge yourself ” to “be aware of industrial regulations” and “stay close to the fundamentals.” A selection of responses is shown below:

  • “Make broad ties with your work community by joining professional groups. Volunteer — connections and networks are valuable for personal and professional [reasons].”
  • “Always put just a little bit more in than you are paid for. Genuine and enthusiastic colleagues get good references and are less likely to lose their jobs.”
  • “Never trust in automatization and software that separate the investigator and the object.”

Click here to read the full report about the 2014 Salary Survey results.

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