Solid Pay for Lab Managers


Solid Pay for Lab Managers

Laboratory and research and development managers reap the rewards for providing the formulations that keep a lubricants business going, averaging $133,800 in compensation this year, an exclusive survey conducted by LubesnGreases magazine found.

Fifty-nine laboratory and technical managers answered the confidential 2016 Lubricants Industry Salary Survey, all working for lube manufacturers. With a different pool of respondents from the previous survey two years ago, direct comparisons cant be drawn. Nonetheless, the data paints an interesting picture of the compensation that managers in these roles receive from their employers.

The average compensation for a lab/technical manager is 3.3 percent higher than the mean reported by respondents two years ago. On the other hand, the median pay this year was $138,000, a 13 percent rise from what the survey found in 2014. The highest level any individual reported for 2016 was $237,000, and the lowest sat at $44,000.

Respondents this year share a similar profile with their 2014 peers. On average, they are 49 years old with around 22 years of experience in a laboratory/technical role. Theyve been in their current job for 7.5 years and supervise five people. These managers have spent slightly less time with their current employer: 13 years, versus around 14 years for the 2014 group.

As with our previous survey, the number of women responding this year was minimal: only nine out of the 59 respondents are female, accounting for about 15 percent of the pool. For them, the average reported pay was $104,100, and the median was $115,000. The male respondents said they make a little over $139,000 on average, and their median is also higher, at $144,000.

Female managers have an average 20.5 years of experience, while the male managers have been in the field for about 23 years. While there are surely other factors at play, its interesting to note that the male respondents average 12 percent more experience, but get paid almost 34 percent higher than the women. One reason may be that only two of these women work at the largest lubricant manufacturing companies, which tend to pay better, in contrast to 13 of the men.

Of note, however, is that the lowest bottom-line figure reported this year ($44,000) belonged to a man, while the lowest-earning woman made $58,000.

Laboratory equipment

Photo: Fotolia/plufflyman

Based on the results of the survey, compensation for managers in a laboratory or technical role depends on how big the company is, where its located and whether they possess professional credentials.

This year, 27 percent of respondents work for a company with 11 to 50 employees and reported a median compensation of $103,000. The 17 percent of managers working at organizations with 51 to 100 employees jump to a median pay of $132,500.

Fifteen percent of respondents work at a company with 101 to 200 employees and said they earn a median $137,000. An equal number, who work at companies with 201 to 500 employees, saw that step up to around $148,300. The remaining quarter of respondents, laboring for companies with over 500 employees, said theyll take home a median $150,000 this year.

Geography is also a determining factor for pay and varies for every United States region except the Northwest because of its scarce lubricant production. The highest number of respondents this year (67 percent) work in the North Central and South Central states, where most lubricant manufacturing is located, and attain medians of $138,000 and $140,000, respectively.

Twenty-two percent of lab and technical managers work in the Northeast, making a median of $130,000. Meanwhile, only 1 percent of respondents work in the Southeast and Southwest, and get a median of $150,000 and $180,000, correspondingly.

Of the respondents, 22 percent said they possess Certified Lubrication Specialist credentials from the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, which boosted the rewards for laboratory respondents by 12 percent.

A lab manager with CLS credentials made an average of $146,900 this year, compared to the $130,000 reported by those not certified. The lowest reported earnings for any CLS-holding manager was $70,000, well above the bottom-ranking $44,000 reported by a non-certified manager. But for salary increases, it was the opposite, with more managers lacking the credential (78 percent) receiving a raise in the prior 12 months than those who are certified (69 percent).

Even though 76 percent of our 2016 respondents said they received a raise during the year. That number is down from the 85 percent the survey heard in 2014. Other forms of compensation also dipped slightly. Sixty-six percent of this years pool of respondents said they expect a bonus; 27 percent anticipate a share of the companys profits; 14 percent expect stock or equity benefits, and a meager 3 percent received a commission.

Further insights on compensation for laboratory and R&D managers are highlighted in the December issue of LubesnGreases. The publication detailed results for plant managers in October and for sales and marketing executives in November. The complete 2016 Lubricants Industry Salary Survey is available for purchase and download at

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