Small business, small money
Approximately 2,000 companies make up the chemical industry in Germany. Over 90 percent of these are small and medium-sized companies. "I specifically didn't want to specialise in matters of detail in my work, but rather be more involved in processes", is how Tobias Richter* explains his decision to work for a medium-sized business rather than one of the big players in the chemical industry. The chemist has been working as a project manager in a research and development department for almost three years, and particularly values the flat hierarchy levels and the close collaboration with colleagues from other departments: "It makes decision-making processes relatively short, which means that I can always respond quickly and adequately", says Richter.
The catch: while rigid pay scales are rarer, many of the small and medium-sized companies that employ chemists are not members of the German Employers' Federation of the Chemical Industry (Bundesarbeitgeberverband Chemie) and therefore not bound by its collective wage agreements. This means they usually pay less: companies with up to 100 employees pay their young scientists on average around 40,400 euros a year, whereas those who sign a contract with a company that has over 1,000 employees can expect a starting salary of more than 50,000 euros. In the public sector, graduates are generally paid according to the applicable federal or state collective wage agreements for public service (TVöD or TV-L), whether they hold a PhD or not. Their salary then depends on age, marital status and place of residence, and is generally lower than the pay grades in the chemical industry.
Managing personnel has a strong impact
Entry-level salaries may be relatively similar, but with increasing professional experience pay can vary strongly - especially in positions with high levels of responsibility. Performance- and success-related salary components also become increasingly important. On average, someone who has been working as a Diplom chemist for more than 10 years will earn 70,000 euros a year, with salaries already spanning a range from 50,000 to 80,000 euros. Taking on management responsibilities significantly boosts salary. Diplom chemists who manage staff earn an average of 92,800 euros annually; their colleagues who do not manage others earn 58,500 euros.
* Name has been changed
INFO-BOX: Pay in chemistry
A tip from PersonalMarkt: What matters is how well you perform, how good you are and what you earn compared to other employees at similar companies.