|Industry salaries still rising
|by Raymond Y. Chu
One bright spot amid the news of economic downturns in the U.S.
industrial sector during 2002 was the higher salaries paid to physicists
and other related scientists working in industry. Salaries reported
by these scientists in a
recent survey by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) rose
sharply in 2002 compared with 2000. The median salary reported by
Ph.D.s in the private sector in 2002 was nearly 11% higher
than that reported two years earlier.
Respondents to the AIPs biennial Membership Sample Survey
reported a median salary of $100,000 in 2002 for Ph.D. members of
AIPs 10 Member Societies working in industry, up from $90,200
in 2000. This 11% median salary increase is higher than the 7% rise
reported between 1998 and 2000 (Industrial
salaries surge again, February 2001, pp. 89), and
it continued a salary surge that began in 1996. The increase in
salaries for industrial Ph.D.s exceeds the 5.9% inflation
rate measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers
(CPI-U) for 20002002. The CPI-U covers about 87% of U.S. consumers.
Similarly, the industrial Ph.D.s in a 2002 survey of the American
Chemical Society reported salaries that were approximately 10% higher
during that same period$94,000 in 2002, up from $85,200 in
Industrial physicists who received their doctorates within the
last five years reported a typical salary range of $70,000 to $95,000.
The typical salary range covers the middle range of salaries, that
is, between the 25th and 75th percentiles. The median salary reported
by this group was $82,000, which was also nearly 11% higher than
the median salary reported in 2000 by industrial Ph.D. physicists
in their early careers.
Overall, society members with Ph.D.s working in industry
reported the third-highest median salary, $100,000. Ph.D. respondents
working in hospitals and medical services earned the highest median
salary, $109,900. Federally funded R&D centers paid society
members with Ph.D.s the second- highest median salary, $104,000.
Ph.D.s on 9- to 10-month contracts at four-year colleges received
the lowest median salary, $55,000, up from $50,000 two years ago.
|Among society members with Ph.D.s, the unemployment
rate turned upward to 1.2% in 2002 from the 0.7% reported in
2000. The Ph.D. unemployment rate is characteristically higher
among those in early careers (Figure 1). The unemployment rate
was 1% and below for Ph.D.s with at least 10 years experience.
In the broader scope, the Labor Department reported in its Current
Population Study that unemployment rose for Ph.D.s to
1.6% in 2002, up from 0.9% in 2000. The trend of rising salaries
and unemployment rates mirrors the findings of a related employment
study. From annual surveys of its U.S. members, the American
Chemical Society reported a jump from 1.9% unemployment among
its member Ph.D. chemists in 2000 to 3.1% in 2002.
|Figure 1. Unemployment rate
by years since Ph.D., 2002.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that earnings increase with educational
attainment. For AIP society members, this holds true throughout
most careers. The median salary for Ph.D.s aged 35 to 44 was
$95,000; for masters, $87,000; and bachelors, $78,000.
The Pacific region, which includes Alaska, California, Hawaii,
Oregon, and Washington, reported the highest typical salary range
for industrial Ph.D.s at $88,000 to $127,000 (Table 1). The
Middle Atlantic states ranked second with a typical salary range
of $90,000 to $124,000. The New England and West South Central regions,
tied with a range of roughly $85,000 to $118,000, followed the Middle
Atlantic region. The South Atlantic region had the lowest reported
typical salary range, $73,500 to $115,000.
|Table 1. Industrial salaries of Ph.D.s
by geographic region, 2002.
An asterisk (*) denotes that the number of respondents was too
small to calculate reliable statistics. Postdoctorates are not
included. Typical salary range includes the middle range salaries,
i.e., between the 25th and 75th percentiles. Median age is the
middle value when all the ages are ordered from lowest to highest.
New EnglandCT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT; Middle AtlanticNJ,
NY, PA; South Atlantic DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA,
WV; East North CentralIL, IN, MI, OH, WI; East South Central
AL, KY, MS, TN; West North CentralIA, KS, MN, MO,
NE, ND, SD; West South CentralAR, LA, OK, TX; MountainAZ,
CO, ID, MT, NE, NM, UT, WY; PacificAK, CA, HI, OR, WA.
|The industrial sector employs more than one-fifth of society
members with doctorates. The salary distribution stays fairly
narrow in the early career years and widens somewhat 20 years
after a scientist receives his or her Ph.D. (Figure 2).
|Figure 2. Typical industrial
salary ranges in 2002 versus years since Ph.D. Years since
Ph.D. Salary ($ thousands)
|Table 2. Industrial Ph.D.s
by work activity, 2002.
||More Ph.D. society members employed in industry report holding
jobs in short-range research (46%, the same percentage as in
2000) than in any other work activity (Table 2). Short-range
research includes development, design, and engineering (27%)
and short-range applied research (19%). Another 21% perform
long-range applied and basic research activities. Administrators
make up 13% of this workforce, down from 16% two years ago,
and consultants make up 10% of the Ph.D.s. The remaining
10% of the society members with doctorates work in areas such
as clinical medicine and computer applications. The salary structure
for Ph.D.s working in industry was similar regardless
of work activity. The exception was among society members working
as administrators, who most often moved into higher-paying nonresearch
positions late in their careers.
The companies that employed the largest number of society members
were Scientific Applications International Corp., IBM Corp., Lockheed
Martin Corp., and Raytheon Co. General Atomics, IBM, and Lockheed
Martin employed the largest number of Ph.D. physicists who are society
members. Since the time of the survey, however, Northrup Grumman
Corp. has acquired TRW, Inc., which would likely cause Northrup
Grumman to rank high among the top employers of industrial physicists.
Detailed salary tables for the 2002 data are available
for purchase here. These tables include the salary data by other
employment sectors and geographical breakdowns. Companies and academic
departments have used the results of the AIP Membership Sample Survey
to review organizational pay structures and salary negotiations.
Professionals, teachers, parents, and students have used these results
in their education and career decisions.
|SOURCE OF SURVEY DATA
The AIP Membership Sample Survey is the largest survey
conducted by the AIPs
Statistical Research Center (SRC), and for the
first time, the 2002 survey was completed entirely
More than 19,300 individuals, approximately one-fourth
of the U.S. members of the AIPs Member Societies,
were selected on the basis of a stratified random sample
and asked to report their salary and employment data
as of October 2002 in this survey. Nearly 11,600 responded,
for a 60% response rate, after three e-mail requests.
The data represent responses from members of the American
Physical Society, Optical Society of America, Acoustical
Society of America, The Society of Rheology, American
Association of Physics Teachers, American Crystallographic
Association, American Astronomical Society, American
Association of Physicists in Medicine, AVS Science
Technology Society, and American Geophysical Union.
The SRC conducts research and provides survey services.
Within the research portion of its mission, the SRC
collects, analyzes, and disseminates data on education
and employment in physics and related fields. The next
Membership Sample Survey will be conducted in 2004.
Raymond Y. Chu is a research
associate in the Statistical Research Center of the American
Institute of Physics.