New report reveals latest chemical engineering salary trends

Article by Amanda Jasi

SALARIES for chemical engineers dropped slightly in 2018, according to IChemE’s UK Salary Survey 2018, published yesterday. 1,585 UK members took part in this year’s survey.

The median salary for chemical engineers declined slightly in 2018. It went from £55,000 (US$69,834) in 2017 to £54,000 this year. But chemical engineers aged under 25, defined as “early career” by IChemE, are earning the same median salary as they did in 2017 (£30,000).

The report also revealed that men and women in the early career category earn the same amount. However, the gap widens from age 25 onwards. The largest gap is in the 45–49 age band, where women earn £27,500 less than their male counterparts.

Chemical engineers who graduated in 2018 are earning a median salary of £28,600. In comparison, last year’s findings showed new graduates were earning £30,000 per year.

The highest median salary was once again found in the finance, insurance and risk sector, at £90,000 per year. This was followed by fuel cell technology (£80,000) and paper and packaging (£77,500).

The report showed that Chartered Chemical Engineers earn more than their non-Chartered counterparts. While a professional engineering qualification, such as Chartered Chemical Engineer, does not automatically trigger an increase in salary, the findings are consistent across industry. Factors such as leadership and experience are key to obtaining Chartered Chemical Engineer status and are therefore most likely to have an impact on salary.

Across the UK, median salaries in chemical engineering range from £41,300 in the South West to £70,100 in London. In this year’s survey, London was separated as a region from the South East to provide a more accurate regional report. Chemical engineers in the South East receive a median salary of £67,500.

The majority of chemical engineers participating in the survey came from the North West, with the highest concentration working in nuclear/nuclear decommissioning, chemical and allied products, and consultancy.

Moreover, the report revealed that UK nationals earned £55,000, a higher median salary than EU nationals (£43,500) and non-EU nationals (£41,000) living in the UK. These figures were marginally lower than those reported in 2017.

Tara Wilson, head of communications at IChemE, said: “The decrease in UK chemical engineering salaries is too small to draw accurate conclusions from at this stage, but it provides a baseline for us to monitor when we conduct the survey again next year. 

“In terms of the next generation, it’s encouraging to see that the average salary for under 25s is holding steady and remains the same for both male and female engineers. What’s more, the trends in industry sector show a significant uplift in salaries within emerging sectors such as biochemical engineering and fuel cell technology. It’s evidence of how the profession is adapting to our changing world.

“We are first and foremost a professional qualifying body, and more than half of respondents were Chartered Chemical Engineers. I’m also pleased to report that 70% of survey respondents have their IChemE membership fees paid for by their employer, and this is great to see. It shows that those who employ chemical engineers value professional membership and are supportive of their continued professional development.”

This is the second year in which the annual report has been available for free download.

The data have also been uploaded to the online UK salary calculator which is accessible to IChemE members only. The salary calculator is a unique, interactive tool that allows IChemE members to benchmark their earnings by sector, age and position.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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