ACS Survey of 2013 Graduates Finds Higher Unemployment Rate,
Little Change in Entry-Level Salaries for Those Finding Work
BY SUSAN R. MORRISSEY
REPRIN TED FROM CHEMICAL & ENGINEERING NEWS, JUNE 2, 2014, VOLUME 92, ISSUE 22, PP. 28-30.
Students who completed their studies and tried to enter the workforce in 2013 experienced a very high unemployment rate of 14.9% — up from 12.6% in 2012, and more than 4 times the 3.5% unemploy- ment rate experienced by all ACS-member chemists in
March 2013. The jump in unemployment is primarily driven by
a large number of bachelor’s degree earners who were unable
to find jobs.
At the same time, the percentage of newly minted graduates
who found full-time positions was up nearly three points from
the prior year to 29.0%. The median starting salary for inexperienced individuals finding full-time jobs remained flat in current
dollars at $41,600.
These are some of the key findings of the American Chemical
Society‘s survey of individuals who graduated during the 2013
academic year with degrees in chemistry and related fields. The
survey, which was sent to 11,454 recent graduates in October
2013, is conducted annually by Gareth S. Edwards of the ACS
Department of Research & Brand Strategy under the guidance of
the ACS Committee on Economic & Professional Affairs. A total
of 2,035 usable responses were received for an overall response
rate of 17.8%. The respondents can be divided into several categories — degree or
experience level, for
instance, or field of
study, gender, or type of
employment. For some
of these groups, the
number of responses
was small and not necessarily representative
of the wider pool of
chemistry graduates in
a given group.
Responding gradu-ates’ field of study
varied by degree earned. For bachelor’s degree recipients, nearly
half earned a degree in general chemistry, a third in biochemistry, and almost 8% in chemical engineering. At the master’s
level, the top three degree areas were general chemistry
( 24.8%), biochemistry ( 16.5%), and analytical chemistry ( 11.9%).
The top areas for new Ph.D.s. were organic chemistry ( 18.5%),
analytical chemistry ( 16.8%), and chemical engineering and biochemistry (both 13.6%).
Median 2013 starting salary for
Most respondents’ highest degree was
in general chemistry or biochemistry.
Median age of 2013 survey takers:
: E T O N Of the respondents who indicated both their highest degree earned and
their field of highest degree, 85% earned new bachelor’s degrees, 5% earned
master’s degrees, and 9% earned Ph. D.s. a Includes respondents who selected
agricultural/food chemistry, environmental chemistry, forensic chemistry,
materials science, medical/pharmaceutical chemistry, or polymer chemistry as
field of highest degree, as well as those who opted not to select a field.
:E T O N For some respondent groups, the number of responses was small and not necessarily representative
of the wider pool of chemistry graduates in a given group.
Respondents = 2,035
43% Chemical education 3%
Median pay scaled with size of firm
($ THOUSANDS) REYOLP MEFO EZIS
seeyolp m e 0 5 nahtre w eF 1. 13
99–05 9. 23
994, 2–005 0.04
999, 9–005, 2 0.54
ero m ro 0 0 0, 5 2 0.9 4
:ETO N Median salaries of responding 2013 bachelor’s
degree graduates with full-time permanent employment.