Environmental chemists study the effect of various chemicals on the environment. According to the American Chemical Society, or ACS, these chemists may try to determine issues such as the environmental consequences of pouring industrial cleaner down a drain or the impact of a factory's smoke emissions. Many environmental chemists work with companies to develop more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and products. Salaries and benefits for environmental chemists vary widely.
SchoolsintheUSA.com reports various levels of income for environmental chemists based on level of experience, ranging from entry-level chemists ($29,920) to experienced chemists ($78,200). The website Simply Hired analyzed job listings to determine average salaries for environmental chemists in New Jersey ($45,000), California ($44,000), Michigan ($41,000), North Carolina ($37,000) and Texas ($36,000). In general, reported earnings for all chemists are higher. Respondents to an ACS 2009 salary survey reported average earnings of $90,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that chemists earn an average salary of $66,230.
Salary by Employer
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports average income for chemists working for different types of employers. Chemists working in the executive branch of the federal government earned $95,690, much more than chemists working for other employers. In descending order, chemists earned $76,450 in the scientific research industry, $66,520 in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, $63,630 in basic chemical manufacturing and $51,180 in architectural, engineering and related services.
The ACS survey asked respondents about benefits they receive from their employers. In 2009, 49.2 percent of respondents reported being eligible for a bonus, with 90.3 of those workers actually receiving a bonus with an average value of $9,000. Of chemists working in the private sector, 94.4 percent received stock options. Most respondents received health insurance, with 97.8 percent earning that benefit for themselves and 97.2 percent earning insurance for their families.
According to the ACS, job prospects will continue to grow for environmental chemists because companies continue to place greater emphasis on compliance and environmental processes. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects slow job growth for chemists in general, with only 2 percent growth from 2008 to 2018. The Bureau anticipates only 2,100 new chemist jobs during that 10-year period.
2016 Salary Information for Chemists and Materials Scientists
Chemists and materials scientists earned a median annual salary of $75,840 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, chemists and materials scientists earned a 25th percentile salary of $55,450, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $102,920, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 96,200 people were employed in the U.S. as chemists and materials scientists.