The 2018 Spectroscopy Salary Survey: A Snapshot

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Here, we present a selection of statistics we collected this year that characterize this year’s salary survey.

The annual Spectroscopy salary survey investigated spectroscopy employment markets in 2018, and for the first time ever average salaries broke the $90,000 mark which represented a 7.6% increase ¾ the largest single increase ever recorded. These gains bring the average salary results back to the levels recorded in 2013–2014 and are potentially a sign that the spectroscopy market has finally recovered from the global financial crisis.

Once again, the majority of respondents indicated their stress levels and workloads have increased. However, this year the effect of increased stress and workloads has translated into a drop in those stating they are highly satisfied with their careers. A drop was also seen in those who believe they receive fair monetary recognition for their work which likely contributed to the changes in career satisfaction. 13.1% of respondents took matters into their own hands in this regard and took on additional work to shore up their incomes.

Below is a selection of statistics we collected this year that characterize this year’s salary survey.

Salaries by Employment Field and Gender

The average salary for 2018 was $91,129, a 7.6% increase from the 2017 survey ($84,718).

Within the three major employer types, average salaries varied greatly. Respondents with roles in industry had the highest average salary of $98,462, while government employees had an average salary of $80,363, and academics an average of $73,481.

Male employees also continued to earn more. Average salaries for males were 23% higher than those of female employees.

Workload, Stress, and Job Satisfaction

We asked respondents to indicate whether their workloads and stress levels had increased compared to the previous year, and how this has affected their job satisfaction.


  • 63.5% of respondents say their workload has increased over the past year, 32.3% say it has stayed the same, and 4.2% say it has declined.

  • Some 51% of respondents indicated their stress levels had increased, a further 43% indicated it had stayed the same, and 6% of respondents reported a decrease.

  • These increased workloads and stress resulted in only, 19% reporting they were “highly satisfied” with their jobs, a decrease from the previous year. 55% were “satisfied.”

  • 7% were “highly dissatisfied” with their jobs and about 19% were “somewhat dissatisfied.”

Regional Variation in the United States

Location dramatically affects your earning potential and for spectroscopists in the US the difference in average salary can be as great as $20,000. This year, differences in regional salaries saw some interesting changes: salaries in the Northeast ($107,313) rebounded following last years’ drop. The Southeast experienced the dramatic drop going from the highest to lowest average salary in 2018, perhaps indicating inconsistency in that market ($84,000). The Midwest ($88,940) saw steady growth and maintained its position as the middle ground as did the Northwest ($92,381). Lastly, the Southwest experienced a further reduction of 7.1% in average salary compared to 2017 with an average salary of $84,132.

Gender Gap

Figures comparing male and female salaries maintained the status quo with male salaries eclipsing female salaries across all categories, including employer type, management versus non-management, and education level.

Sexual Harassment

Carrying on from last year, our survey took a brief look at sexual harassment in the spectroscopic community and employment market. A selection of figures on sexual harassment are shown below:

  • Percentage of respondents who have experienced sexual harassment: Male (13% Yes, 87% No), Female (45% Yes, 55% No)

  • Percentage of women who launched a complaint (Lodged a complaint 17%, Did not lodge a complaint 83%)

  • 78% percent of people who were aware that another was experiencing sexual harassment did not act because they believed they were not in a position to speak up or act.

  • 65% of organizations have mandatory sexual harassment prevention training where as 35% do not.

  • 68% of respondents felt clear they knew what constituted sexual harassment or sexually inappropriate behaviour in a professional setting.

Click here to read the full report about the 2018 Salary Survey.