R & D Salary Survey

2014 R&D Salary Survey

August 4, 2014

The results are in! Chemists have a lot to say about what they like and dislike on and off the bench.

“Mr. Lumbergh told me to talk to payroll
and then payroll told me to talk to Mr. Lumbergh
and I still haven't received my paycheck and
he took my stapler and he never brought it back and
then they moved my desk to storage room B
and there was garbage on it...”

—Milton Waddams

Yes, we’re pretty sure none of our readers have it as bad as Milton (played by Stephen Root) from “Office Space." After all, we’ve been polling our research and development readership for the past five years about their attitudes toward their jobs, their salaries and what their biggest concerns are at work.

Below is data from our most recent R&D Salary Survey, which was conducted online in June and July 2013.
A special thanks to all of our participants—and congratulations the winners of our $100 American Express Gift Cards and the free registration to Happi’s Third Annual Anti-Aging Conference & Tabletop Exhibition, which will be held Sept. 16-17, 2013 in New Brunswick, NJ.
Our respondents came from manufacturers of personal care/beauty products, household products and industrial and institutional cleaning products (I&I) as well as suppliers that offer raw materials and other service providers, such as testing firms.
By category, the vast majority (69%) of our respondents came from finished goods manufacturers, 21% were in the “supplier” category and 10% labeled their companies as “other” which included lab service provider, consultants, etc.
Of those surveyed, 75% work in the personal care/beauty sector, 9% in household products and 16% in I&I.
Respondents included R&D directors (16%), lab/technical/R&D managers (24%), senior chemists (22%), chemists/formulators (20%), technician/lab support (6%) and other (13%), which included titles such as QC, regulatory, testing, etc.

By gender, 55% of respondents were men and 45% were women. 

The median age of our respondents was 42, with the oldest respondent clocking in at 81 years.
Regarding education, 29% of the respondents have Master’s degrees, 49% obtained Bachelor’s degrees; 14% have Doctorate level education, 4% had earned their high school diploma and 4% checked “other.”

The majority of respondents (77%) came from the US, 8% came from Asia-Pacific, 7% came from Europe, 2% from Latin/South America, 3% from Canada, 1% from Mexico and 1% from Middle East/Africa. “Other” was the response of 1%.

Money Ball!

The following shows median salary levels for US-based respondents based on the position they hold. More detailed breakdowns—including compensation levels by gender and salary differences at supplier vs. finished goods firms—are listed under the specific job title sections. All responses are in US dollars.

Median Annual Base Salary in the US (base salary data from 2013 survey)

Lab Technician—$45,000 ($48,250)
Chemist/Formulator—$58,000 ($60,000)
Senior Chemist—$88,500 ($88,000)
Lab/Technical/R&D Manager—$102,000 ($98,000)
R&D Director—$127,000 ($98,000)
The same number of respondents reported being fired (3%) this year as in the 2012 poll.
Our polled showed that 11.5% nearly had to lay off staff in the past year, up from 10% in 2012 but still far below the 20.1% reported in our 2010. 

The same percentage of respondents this year (12%) said they had changed companies in the past year.
In terms of raises, 68% said they received a raise for 2012. The vast majority of respondents—more than 93%—had not taken a cut in base salary in the past year.


“I Got Nowhere Else To Go”

When asked what is the most frustrating aspect of your job, respondents’ answers varied. But the top concern this year, as reported by our respondents, was lack of advancement.

When it comes to how R&D staff feel about their compensation, 30% said they were “somewhat dissatisfied” when asked how satisfied they were that their present compensation reflected their level of responsibility. 28% reported being “satisfied” and 9% said “very satisfied.” 12% answered “very dissatisfied.” 22% said they were “somewhat satisfied.”
Those issues aside, when asked how likely you are to leave your current company in the next two years, 36% said they were “not sure” and 21% said “unlikely.” 19% recorded responses of “likely.” 15% said it was very unlikely that they would leave in the next two years, while 9% said they were definitely leaving.
The primary reason they would consider jumping ship: 38% said salary increase; 34% said better chance for advancement; 21% said they would look for a more rewarding scientific environment; and 7% said they might leave for a different area of product development.
In terms of job security, when asked how secure you feel in your present position, 57% said they feel “secure” while another 30% said “very secure.” 11% percent selected “insecure” and 3% said they felt “very insecure.”
In the survey, 23% of respondents felt that it was “unlikely” and 30% said “very unlikely” that their company would be acquired in the next 12 months. Only 6% felt it was “very likely” that their company would be involved in a merger or acquisition.  23% were not sure


R&D Budget: On Track or Off the Rails?

According to our poll, 26% respondents said that their department had its budget cut in the past 12 months, compared to 28.8% in 2013, 36.4% in 2012, 40% in 2011 and 44.8% in 2010.
20% of our respondents said that their department has its budget increased in the last 12 months and 54% said their funding stayed the same.
While the information above casts a wide net, here is a way to gauge your current compensation—and concerns—with that of your peers. Unless noted, the salary figures are for US. We have included compensation levels for gender and supplier vs. finished goods manufacturer. There are also results of leading job concerns/issues based on job function. All data is in US dollars.

•Lab Support/Technician

Median Annual Base Salary: $45,000  
Median Annual Base Salary for female: $40,000
Median Annual Base Salary at finished goods company: $38,750
Median Annual Base Salary at supplier: $66,00
According to our poll, 81% of US-based lab technicians did receive a raise this year.
When asked what their biggest concerns were in the office, lack of advancement, internal politics, and inadequate compensation all finished with the same percentage (22%) in our poll of lab technicians.


Median Annual Base Salary: $58,000
Median Annual Base Salary female: $56,250
Median Annual Base Salary at finished goods company: $57,000
Median Annual Base Salary at supplier: $60,000
In our poll, 26% of the chemists (based in the US) said they did not receive a raise, which was down 2 points from last year.
For chemists/formulators, lack of advancement was the most cited job concern, which is similar to last year's response.

 •Senior Chemist

Median Annual Base Salary: $88,500
Median Annual Base Salary female: $79,500
Median Annual Base Salary at finished goods: $85,000
Median Annual Base Salary at supplier: $97,500
Of the US-based senior chemists who took part in our poll, 71% receive a raise in the past 12 months.
For senior chemists, the top job concern was lack of advancement, followed by inadequate compensation.
•Lab/Technical/R&D Manager

Median Annual Base Salary: $102,000
Median Annual Base Salary female: $96,500
Median Annual Base Salary at finished goods company $100,000
Median Annual Base Salary at supplier: $115,500
In our poll, 67% of US-based lab managers said they received a raise in the past year.
For lab managers, the top job concern was inadequate project funding.
• R&D Director

Median Annual Base Salary $127,000
Median Annual Base Salary female: $87,250
Median Annual Base Salary at finished goods company: $124,5000
Median Annual Base Salary at supplier: $140,000
In our poll, 63% of US R&D directors reported that they did receive a raise in the past year.
The top job concern cited by R&D directors in this year’s poll was regulatory issues.