Money money money

OVER 3,200 members participated in IChemE's 2016 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. Members disclosed their earnings and employee benefits, along with feedback on IChemE’s products and services.

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 the oil and gas exploration and production sector. Because of this, IChemE invited feedback on how the drop in oil price has impacted their industry.

The hardest-hit countries surveyed are the United Arab Emirates (83%), Canada (80%), Malaysia (72%), Singapore (66%), India (65%), South Africa (62%), 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, reduced investment, wage and recruitment freezes and budget cuts to training. Many express concern over the latter, with a prediction that if this trend continues, we may see an increase in safety-related incidents in the future.

Members are divided on the outlook of an oil price rise happening before 2017, and for those who think there will be one, they believe it will be only marginal. Some respondents 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 business profit margins as a result of lower energy, transport and raw materials costs. The pharmaceuticals and food and drink sectors are highlighted as being least affected, however the global drop in dairy price is impacting members working in this area.

Overall, members reported that it is a depressed and challenging time for engineers. This is compounded when you include the price drop in commodities such as minerals, 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.


Over the past ten years, the median salary for UK members has risen by 24%, with a modest 2% increase this year at £57,000 (US$83,555) (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, with a higher earning potential being one of the benefits in achieving this qualification. 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 UK chart by age and qualification.

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 a supervised engineer or lecturer earns a median salary of £46,500. A principal engineer, professor, or site manager, earns £75,000, whereas a CEO, president/chairman or vice chancellor, £145,000.

UK median salary by age and qualification






















*Insufficient data available in older age bands

UK median salary by industry sector, (,000)

Biochemical engineering


Chemical and allied products




Consumer products






Finance, insurance and risk


Food and drink


Health, safety and environment


Industrial gases


Iron, steel and other metals


Mining and minerals


Oil and gas exploration and production


Oil refining




Pharmaceuticals and personal care products




Power generation - fossil fuels


Power generation - nuclear decommissioning


Power generation - nuclear generation


Power generation - renewables


Process plant and equipment


Public sector


Waste management




UK Median salaries by region

North East

£ 58.0

South East

£ 65.0

East of England

£ 49.0

North West

£ 57.0

South West

£ 45.0

East Midlands

£ 54.0

West Midlands

£ 50.0


£ 57.0

Northern Ireland

£ 45.0


£ 60.0

Yorkshire and the Humber

£ 49.0


The overall median salary for Australian members remained static at A$140,000 (US$104,478) (2015 A$140,000), but for graduates in training, it fell by 10% to A$70,000 (2015: A$77,000). 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 A$110,500 (2015: A$110,000).

The oil and gas exploration and production 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 consultancy, A$102,000 (2015: A$132,500), water, A$110,500 (2015: A$96,500) and chemical and allied products A$148,000 (2015: A$110,000).

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.

Median salaries by Australian state

Western Australia






New South Wales


South Australia


*insufficient data available for Northern Territory, ACT and Tasmania


Associate Members formed the majority of Malaysian participants (65%), earning a median salary of RM84,450 (US$20,921) (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 the oil and gas production and exploration industry, at RM129,713 (2015: RM99,864), following by education at RM95,000 (2015: RM85,000) and chemical and allied products at RM72,500 (2015: RM94,417).

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 35-39 earn RM200,000 (2015: RM200,000). Members in the 40-44-age band earn a median salary of RM200,000 (2015: RM200,000), but due to insufficient data, no accurate analysis is available for salaries earned by older engineers.

Around the globe

There is insufficient data to provide a more comprehensive analysis of salaries in the remaining top member countries, but the following table offers some broad salary information.

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

Employment benefits received across all countries are largely identical. Besides retirement or pension schemes, the next highest-ranking benefit is medical and dental insurance. This is followed by employers who pay IChemE membership fees and life insurance. Other top mentions are access to a company share scheme, car or car allowance, and loans.


Median salary



*Senior Engineer






CA$ 170,000

CA$ 200,000


INR 1,000,000

INR 1,850,0000

INR 850,000

 NR 1,450,000


New Zealand



NZ$ 93,860















South Africa

ZAR 852,000

ZAR 1,029,000

ZAR 756,000

ZAR 870,000

ZAR 1,010,000

United Arab Emirates

AED 315,000

AED 500,000

AED 196,680

AED 290,000




US$ 196,191

US$ 155,050


US$ 196,191

*Senior engineer/senior lecturer

*Manager/site manager/project manager/professor/associate professor/principal engineer

Member feedback

For consecutive years, The Chemical Engineer has been ranked as the most preferred means of keeping in touch with the profession. But other top choices by ranking are networking events, emails, social media and special interest groups. There are too many training course suggestions to list here, but the top picks for CPD offerings were: SIL – Understanding and implementation; Design fundaments; Risk assessment techniques; Process Safety Legislation; and Core chemical engineering skills refresher.

The overriding feedback themes are that members would like to see a reduction in membership and training courses fees. Some members would also like to see more focus on industries outside of the oil and gas exploration and production sector, particularly in our training offer. There are requests for free online training courses, publications and technical tools. Many indicate that they would like direct contact with others locally, or increased member and special interest group activity in their own country or region.

Some think that being a Chartered Engineer is not valued by some employers, while others would like the title legally protected in a similar way to other professions. There are also requests for a career/counselling support service, a mentoring programme for getting Chartered, and improvements to the application process.

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, no reports or online calculator is available.

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

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