Money Talks

OVER 3,200 members participated in this year’s IChemE salary and member satisfaction survey. They hailed from our top 11 member countries – the UK, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Canada, United Arab Emirates and the US.

The oil price crash and its effect

IChemE’s global membership can be found working in a broad range of industries, but the highest concentration is within oil and gas exploration and production (E&P). Because of this, IChemE invited feedback on the impact of the drop in oil price.

Countries reporting that this had had a negative impact on them or their employers include the United Arab Emirates (83%), Canada (80%), Malaysia (72%), Singapore (66%), India (65%), South Africa (62%), the US (60%), Australia (57%), and the UK (53%). Least affected was New Zealand (37%) and Northern Ireland (17%). Not surprisingly, the most significant impact has been through job cuts, followed by the cancellation of projects, wage and hiring freezes, and cuts to training. Many express concern over the latter and say that if this continues, we may see an increase in safety-related incidents.

Members are divided on the outlook of an oil price rise happening before 2017. Some think this will be an opportunity to focus on investing in green energy technologies, while others report they will be looking at retraining, going back to finish their Master’s or a Doctorate, or moving on to more sustainable or stable industries.

Conversely for some, the oil price drop has had a positive impact, experienced as improved margins thanks to lower energy, transport and raw materials costs. The pharmaceuticals and food and drink sectors are highlighted as being least affected, though a global drop in dairy prices has been felt.

These challenges are further compounded when you include commodity price drops, the ripple effects of geopolitics and the slowing of China’s economy – all of which are expected to have a long-term effect on global economic growth.

United kingdom

Over the past ten years, the median salary for UK members has risen by 24%, with a modest 2% increase this year to £57,000 (US$75,600) (2015: £55,600). At graduate level, the median salary earned by those who finished their studies in 2015 fell by 5.8% to £28,350 (2014: £30,000). But in spite of this, they are still amongst the best-paid graduates in the country.

Most members value their Chartered Chemical Engineer status. In 2016, Chartered Members earned an overall median salary of £73,000 (2015: £71,000), while their non-Chartered counterparts earned a median salary of £40,000 (2015: £40,000) – see Table 1. For analysis by sector see Figure 1.

The gender gap remains an ongoing issue and becomes evident when women reach their late 30s. The median salary for women aged 35–39 is £55,000, compared to men at £60,000. This trend continues for women aged 45–49 with a median of £61,800, compared to their male counterparts at £80,000.

For those at different stages in their careers, the survey finds that once Chartered, a supervised engineer or lecturer earns a median salary of £46,500; principal engineers, professors, or site managers earn £75,000; and CEOs, chairmen or vice chancellors earn £145,000.


The overall median salary for Australian members remained static at A$140,000 (US$105,400) (2015 A$140,000), but for graduates in training, it fell by 10% to A$70,000. The median salary for Chartered Members dropped to A$180,000 (2015: A$190,000), but the earnings of non-Chartered members remained about the same at A$110,500 (2015: A$110,000).

The oil and gas E&P sector is the biggest employer of Australian members, achieving a median salary of A$196,000 (2015: A$180,000). This was followed by oil refining at A$160,000 (2015 A$150,000) and mining and minerals at A$150,000 (2015: $179,000). Other top sectors include chemical and allied products A$148,000 (2015: A$110,000), water A$110,500 (2015: A$96,500), and consultancy A$102,000 (2015: A$132,500).

The highest response rate was from members aged 25–29, earning a median salary of A$94,000 (2015 A$95,500). At Chartered Member level, those aged 35–39 earn a median salary of A$152,500 (2015 $176,000) and ages 50–54 earn A$225,000 (2015: A$240,000).

In the area of job responsibility, the median salary for a supervised engineer is A$107,000 and for a senior engineer/lecturer A$150,000. For those working as a site manager/principal process engineer, the median salary earned is A$187,500 and for a CEO or managing director, A$370,000.


Associate Members formed the majority of Malaysian participants (65%), earning a median salary of RM84,500 (US$21,200) (2015: RM70,964), compared to that of Chartered Members (24%) at RM361,200 (2015: RM202,500).

You will find the highest percentage of Malaysian members working in oil and gas E&P, at RM129,700 (2015: RM99,900), followed by education at RM95,000 (2015: RM85,000) and chemical and allied products at RM72,500 (2015: RM94,400).

The largest group of participants was aged 25–29, earning a median salary of RM50,000 (2015: RM36,000). Members aged 30–34 earn RM120,000 (2015 RM99,864), while those aged 35–44 earn a median salary RM200,000 (2015: RM200,000).

Around the globe

There is insufficient data for anything more than a higher level view of salaries in our top member countries (see Table 2).

Design is ranked as the leading type of work carried out by members across all countries surveyed. The exception is Ireland, where manufacturing and production is the mainstay. The largest employment sector is oil and gas E&P, with the exception of New Zealand (consultancy and food and drink), Ireland (pharmaceuticals) and South Africa (petrochemicals and mining).

The UK survey data has been uploaded onto the online UK salary calculator for fr­ee member access. Full data sets of the UK survey are available for sale via the IChemE Shop. Due to insufficient participation from Australian and Malaysian members, there are no specific reports or online calculator available.

IChemE’s 2016 Salary survey is published in association with its global recruitment partner NES Global Talent.

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