A Steady Ride

April 6, 2012

This year's salary survey showed continued success for spectroscopists. Throughout the last decade, salaries in the spectroscopy field have increased fairly steadily, with a few years of oscillation in either direction.

This year’s salary survey showed continued success for spectroscopists. Throughout the last decade, salaries in the spectroscopy field have increased fairly steadily, with a few years of oscillation in either direction. Despite the small increase in salaries we report this year, as well as increased workloads and stress levels, spectroscopists report being satisfied with their careers. If history is our guide for the future, these trends in spectroscopy are likely to continue. Here are a few of the statistics we gathered from this year’s results:

Area of employment: 62% private industry; 17% academia; 17% government or national laboratory; 4% other areas such as hospitals, nonprofits, research institutes, and self-employed; and fewer than 1% military.

Employment status: 93% employed full-time; 2% consultant; 2% postdoctoral researcher or graduate student; 2% employed part-time; fewer than 1% contract employee; fewer than 1% temporary employee; and fewer than 1% not currently employed.

Primary field of analysis: 33% analytical chemistry; 10% instrumentation design or development; 10% environmental; 9% pharmaceuticals; 6% agricultural or food; 5% medical or biological; 5% plastics, polymers, or rubber; 4% organic chemicals; 4% forensics or narcotics; 3% biotechnology; 3% electronics or semiconductors; 3% metallurgy; 2% inorganic chemicals; 2% energy or petroleum; and fewer than 1% ceramics.

Age range: fewer than 1% were 20–24; 4% were 25–29; 8% were 30–34; 9% were 35–39; 14% were 40–44; 14% were 45–49; 18% were 50–54; 15% were 55–59; 12% were 60–64; and 7% were 65+.

Gender: 76% male and 24% female.

Education level: 41% of respondents have a doctoral degree; 24% have a master's degree; 32% have a bachelor's degree; and 3% have an associate degree.

Average salary: $85,060.

Job Market: 55% of respondents think getting a first job is more difficult now, 37% think it is about the same, and 8% think it is easier. When asked about getting a new job as an experienced scientist, 48% think it is about the same, 44% think it is more difficult now, and 8% think it is easier. An estimated 52% of respondents think getting a promotion is more difficult now, 44% think it is about the same, and only 4% think it is easier. At an almost even split among our respondents, 49% think obtaining lasting and meaningful employment is more difficult now, 48% think it is about the same, and 3% think it is easier. Finally, 47% of respondents think it's more difficult now to avoid layoffs, 45% think it is about the same, and 8% think it's easier.

Workloads: 59% of respondents reported an increase in workloads over last year; 35% said their workloads stayed the same; and 5% reported a decrease in their workload (1% responded with "not applicable").

Stress level: 49% of respondents reported increased stress levels at work within the past year; 44% reported that their stress levels remained the same; 5% reported decreased stress levels; and 2% selected "not applicable."

Satisfaction: 41% report feeling satisfied in their current position; 33% feel very satisfied; and 13% feel extremely satisfied. Only 10% are not satisfied; and 3% are not at all satisfied.

Click here to read the full report about the 2012 Salary Survey results.