Chemical engineering salaries holding steady

Paul Boughton

The medium salary for chemical engineers in the UK fell by 1% – from £56,000 in 2013 to £55,500 in 2014. Previous surveys have shown significant increases in pay; between 2011 and 2013, median salaries had grown by nearly 6% (5.7%)

This is according to a survey of more than 2,000 Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) members in the UK and Ireland.

However, some sectors continued to report increases. Chemical engineers working in oil exploration and production saw their median salary rise from £71,000 in 2013 to £73,500 last year. The median starting salary for graduate chemical engineers entering the profession also saw a small increase from 2013, rising to £30,000 from £29,500.

The survey once again highlights a marked difference in median pay rates for fully qualified or Chartered Chemical Engineers versus their non-chartered counterparts. For example, in the 30-34 age range, annual earnings for chartered chemical engineers outpaced those of non-chartered chemical engineers by 25% with median salary rates at £58,000 compared to £43,000.

The gender pay gap also remains evident with women achieving a median salary of £42,500 compared to £60,000 for men over a career lifetime. Between the ages of 30 and 50, female engineers are earning, on average, 21% (£12,000) less than their male colleagues.

IChemE director of policy, Andy Furlong, said: “Chemical engineering remains an excellent career choice, both in terms of earnings potential and career opportunity. This latest survey reinforces the view that achieving chartered engineer status is fully recognised and highly valued by employers, with Chartered Chemical Engineers earning significantly more than their non-chartered colleagues.

“Pay rates for chemical engineers are holding steady despite ongoing economic uncertainty and the dramatic drop in the oil price last year.  Chemical engineers still command the best salaries as shown by the continued increase in graduate starting salaries.

“More work is needed to close the gender pay gap and to support and promote female chemical engineers. Employers must address pay parity, equality and inclusion. IChemE is also working hard to promote the profession to school pupils, particularly girls, in a concerted attempt to redress the gender imbalance in engineering.”

The annual survey of employees in sectors including oil and gas exploration, energy, food and drink, pharmaceuticals and water began in the 1980s and is the largest of its kind for the chemical engineering profession.

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