Fourth Annual R&D Salary Survey

By Christine Canning Esposito | November 2, 2005

Our annual look at what's on the minds and in the wallets of R&D staffers in the global coatings industry.

Well, you showed us the money...again. The Coatings World fourth annual R&D salary survey proved a success, with even more respondents taking part in our poll than in previous years.

For this survey, we polled a portion of our readers-research and development personnel involved in the formulation of paint and coatings from both the manufacturer and supplier sides of the business-to determine their attitudes toward their jobs, their salaries and what their biggest challenges are at work. This examination presents a quick state of the industry report from the men and women in the trenches. Chemists are the ones who drive the formulations further, improve performance, deal with regulatory constraints and work on what could be the next "big leap" in performance or aesthetics, or both.

Our respondents come from all sectors of the industry, with the majority (66%) of respondents working for paint manufacturers. Suppliers of raw material and equipment accounted for 17.9%. The remainder came from "other," which included those employed by adhesives/sealant makers or ink manufacturers, those working in academic settings or those employed by end users of coatings.

On a gender basis, 78.2% of our respondents are male, down from 82% last year. Women accounted for 21.8%, up from 18% in 2004. (Interestingly 0.9% of our respondents skipped this question, which we thought was one of the easier ones!) As was the case last year, we can't say for sure that the growth in female participants in our survey translates into a larger percentage of female workers making inroads in the traditionally male-dominated discipline of coatings chemistry.

The average age of our respondents was 41.8, with the oldest respondent being a 74-year old man with 52 years of experience, who is currently working as a consultant for a raw materials supplier. The average age of females who took part in our poll was 37.7 years, with the eldest a 59 year-old senior chemist, with 35 years of experience, working for a paint manufacturer in the U.S.

In terms of education, overall, 54% of our respondents have a bachelor's degree, 23% earned a master's degree and 11.3% obtained a doctorate level degree (11.7% responded with "other").

There were differences in education levels based on gender. For female respondents, 8.8% had obtained a doctorate compared to 12% of men, 21.1% of females reported they had a master's as compared to 23.5% of men, and 57.9% of females had bachelor's degrees as compared to 52.9% of their male counterparts.

In the following pages, you will find information on compensation levels as well as other salary issues (such as bonuses) for R&D directors, lab/R&D managers, senior chemists, chemists and lab/support functions. Since currency fluctuations and differences in job titles vary around the world, we include regional breakdowns of compensation (when available) to give you a better chance to measure your compensation packaging with other colleagues.

Part of the reason why we conduct our survey is to gauge the temperament of the R&D workers in the coatings industry. We ask respondents to tell us about things such as satisfaction with their salary level, how confident they feel in their current position and what frustrates them most at work. We also polled our readers on the state of their facilities, if they use modern research methods such as high throughput screening, and what they feel could be done to improve their work environment. You can also find more detailed data online.

Thank you to all who participated. If there is something specific you want us to poll our readers for next year, let us know. We look forward to hearing from you and publishing the results next year.

-Christine Canning Esposito