2016 Salary Survey Results

2016 Results

Plastics Total Cash Compensation Down 5%

Average plastics cash compensation decreased roughly 5% in 2015, according to the 2016 Plastics Salary and Trends Survey. Average total cash compensation (salaries plus bonuses and incentives) decreased from $119,576 in 2014 to $113,588 in 2015.

1291 plastics professionals completed the 2016 annual salary survey, which asked participants about their compensation in 2015. The survey was conducted by Gros Executive Recruiters and the Society of Plastics Engineers.

Manufacturing and Sales/Marketing/Customer Tech Support both reported decreases in base salaries between the 2015 and 2016 surveys. Average commission incentives took a major hit, dropping over 26%. Almost every plastics position felt this blow to bonuses and commissions.

Average Base Salary and Average Total Cash Compensation by Year


“This year’s results are not a pretty sight,” said Dennis Gros, president of Gros Executive Recruiters. “We are unable to find a definitive explanation. There’s no reason to believe that employed plastics professionals suffered an actual decrease in base salaries. I think it’s psychological–household expenses are going up while salaries are probably stable. Workers FEEL like they’re earning less. And that’s how they respond to the survey.”

When asked about expectation of future earnings, the response is equally pessimistic. Only 24% of survey participants expect their 2016 incomes to increase more than 3%. Meanwhile, 76% expect to conclude 2016 with raises of less than 3%, or none at all.

In a contradictory response, 64% of participants reported receiving a raise in the last 12 months, and job satisfaction remains fairly steady. 60% of survey participants indicated they were either “extremely happy” or “mostly happy” with their current job. However, more than 18% reported they have definite plans to look for a new job, or they are currently seeking new employment.

Over the previous ten-year stretch, base salaries, total cash compensation and growth expectations have generally risen. Data from past salary surveys shows average base salaries have increased 15% in a decade.  

“While the downturn we saw this year is disheartening news, the overall industry trends favor growth. I expect 2016 will close on a more optimistic note. In the meantime, we welcome all theories for this current slump,” Gros added.

A detailed report of the full survey will be available in an upcoming issue of Plastics Engineering magazine produced by SPE. Members of SPE can obtain a copy of the 2016 survey, with detailed information, by logging into their accounts at http://www.4spe.org.

THE SOCIETY OF PLASTICS ENGINEERS is the premier source of peer-reviewed technical information for plastics professionals. Founded in 1942, SPE has become the recognized medium of communication among scientists, engineers, and technical personnel engaged in the development, conversion, and application of plastics.