Income and Employment of SIOP Members in 1997
Jennifer L. Burnfield and Gina J. Medsker
Human Resources Research Organization
Author's Notes: The Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) conducted the
1998 Income and Employment Survey of the membership of the Society for Industrial and
Organizational Psychology on behalf of the SIOP Executive Committee and as a service to
the SIOP membership. We would like to acknowledge the support of Jim Miller and Questar,
Inc., who contributed to this project by donating labor and materials to print the surveys
and cover letters. We would like to acknowledge the involvement of Lee Hakel and staff in
the SIOP Administrative Office, and Dr. Elaine Pulakos, SIOP President. We would also like
to apologize to SIOP members who had their completed survey returned to them; this
occurred because of difficulties with the postal service barcodes. Address correspondence
to either author at HumRRO, 66 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 1998 Income and Employment Survey of the SIOP membership was conducted during the
fourth quarter of 1998. Similar surveys were conducted in the second quarter of 1995 and
the third quarters of 1989 and 1983. The 1998 survey was designed to be as similar as
possible to past surveys to make replication of analyses easier. The 1998 survey was
mailed on November 10, 1998 to all SIOP Members, Associate Members, and Fellows with
addresses on record (N = 3,282). Reminder cards were mailed on December 9, 1998. As
of January 15, 1999, 1,430 surveys were returned, yielding a response rate of 43.6%;
however, data from 30 respondents were excluded because they were either retired or not
employed in the United States. This response rate is lower than the rate of 58.3% from
1995 and 72.8% from 1988, but is similar to the rate of 48.0% for 1982. The reason for the
lower response rate is likely due to the difficulties with the postal bar codes on the
return envelopes, which resulted in some completed surveys being returned to respondents.
Although it is doubtful that the completed surveys which were returned to senders were
returned on anything other than a random basis, some statistics can be analyzed to gauge
whether the survey sample differs from the SIOP membership as a whole. For the SIOP
membership, based on annual reports of primary employment given at the time of dues
payment, 33% are employed in academia, 31.9% in consulting, 15.6% in the private sector,
and 5.7% in the public sector. For the primary employers reported on the surveys we
received, 34.3% were in academia, 31.3% in consulting or self-employment, 15.5% in the
private sector, and 7.4% in the public sector. Based on these statistics, the sample
appears to be representative of the total SIOP membership.
Table 1 contains an analysis of respondents by gender, type of SIOP membership,
employment status, location of employment, and years since obtaining a doctorate. This
table shows that the current sample was similar to samples obtained in previous years,
which also supports the expectation that there was no systematic bias caused by the
surveys that happened to be returned to senders. Percentages in Table 1 show little change
in type of membership, employment status, location, or years since doctoral degree. The
trend of an increasing percentage of women in the samples over the 1982 through 1994
surveys continued with the 1998 survey. Other data collected on the survey indicate that
most SIOP members (83.1%) are also members of APA, and 81.4% consider Division 14 to be
their primary APA division; 31.5% of the respondents are Members, Associates, or Fellows
of APS. The principal findings from the survey are cited below.
Principal Findings from the Survey
Highest degree obtained. On highest degree, 92% of the sample had a doctorate,
7% had a master's degree, and less than 1% had a bachelor's degree. As shown in Table 2,
the median income for respondents with doctorates was $80,000. Twenty-five percent earned
$120,000 or more and 10% earned $180,000 or more. The median income for respondents with a
master's degree was $55,000. The 1997 median income for respondents with a master's degree
is lower than it was in 1994, while the median income for respondents with doctorates
increased. For 1982 income, those with a master's degree had a 4% higher median income
than those with a doctorate, but this changed to a 14% lower median income in 1988, 16%
lower in 1994, and 31% lower in 1997. When the 1997 median incomes are adjusted using the
Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) for 1988 and 1997, the adjusted 1997 median income is worth
less for both those with doctorates and master's degrees than the actual 1988 income. This
indicates that the 1997 median incomes provide less purchasing power than the 1988 median
incomes. The negative percentage change from 1988 income to adjusted 1997 income is much
smaller for those with a doctorate than those with a master's. Both comparisons of 1994
and 1997 median incomes and the 1988 and 1997 adjusted median incomes suggest that the
income difference between education levels has grown during the 15-year period
Age differences. Table 2 shows that median income was higher in 1997 for the
45_49 year age group than for other age groups. On previous SIOP income surveys, the 50_54
year age group had the same or a higher median income than the other age groups. The
median income for the 50_54 year age group was 53% higher than the median income for those
younger than 35 in 1997, 70% higher in 1994, 44% higher in 1988, and 61% higher in 1982.
As a rough approximation of how an age cohort's income changes from early in their career
to the income peak of their career, the median income of the 45_49 year age group in 1997
is three times as high as the 1982 median income for those younger than 35. After
adjusting the 1997 median income for the 45_49 year age group to its 1982 value using the
1982 CPI, the 1997 adjusted median income is $60,125, which is 82% higher than the $33,000
1982 median income for what is roughly the same cohort.
Gender differences. As in previous years, the median primary income for men
($83,000) was significantly (p < .001) higher than the median income for women
($65,000). The mean income for all women in the sample ($77,944) was 41% lower than
the mean income for all males in the sample ($131,218). The median income for women was
19% lower than that for men in 1982 and 1988 and 22% lower in 1994 and 1997, so the
overall "wage gap" has not appeared to decrease. Some of this discrepancy in
primary income may be explained by gender differences observed in other areas. For
instance, male SIOP members were more likely to hold doctorates than female members (94%
versus 87%, p < .001). However, even at the same degree level, males had higher
mean and median incomes than females (see Figure 1). Male members also tended to have more
professional work experience than female members (p < .001). The average length
of time since starting professional employment was 19.0 years for males and 11.6 years for
females, and the average number of years since receiving the doctorate was 17.1 for males
and 9.9 for females.
Highest Degree Obtained
Figure 1. Percentiles and descriptive statistics representing 1997 annual income by
gender and highest degree obtained.
There was no statistical difference in the percentage of males and females who were
located in the New York or Boston Metro areas and other locations.
Status as a partner, principal, or owner. Of the sample, 17.6% indicated that
they are the partner, principal, or owner of a consulting or private research
organization. A majority of these individuals were male (84.6%). The median 1997 income of
partners, principals, or owners of consulting firms ($140,000) exceeded the median income
of partners, principals, or owners of private research firms ($112,000). Partners,
principals, and owners of consulting firms received higher annual incomes (M =
$224,518; SD = $326,949) than others
Years Since Doctoral Degree
Figure 2. Percentiles and descriptive statistics representing 1997 annual income as a
function of years since obtaining the doctoral degree.
employed in such firms (M = $94,562; SD = $89,224, p < .001).
Similarly, partners, principals, and owners of private research firms received higher
incomes (M = $134,286; SD = $83,503) than others employed in those types of
firms (M = $73,300; SD = $25,549, p < .01).
Years since doctoral degree. Figure 2 displays the 1997 annual incomes for SIOP
members with doctorates as a function of the number of years since they received their
degree. The data show that respondents who received their doctorates more than 20 years
ago have the highest median incomes ($100,000). The data also show that the variability in
annual income appears to increase over time.
Note: Doctoral respondents only. Sample sizes are in parentheses.
Figure 3. 1997 median income for doctorates as a function of location.
Geographic location of employment. Similar to previous years, respondents located in
the Total New York Metro area (Manhattan and Other Metro New York areas combined) received
higher incomes than respondents employed in most other locations. Analysis of data from
respondents with doctorates showed that the mean income in Manhattan ($180,483) was higher
than for any other location and exceeded the total sample mean ($113,817) by 58.6%. The
mean income in the Boston area ($153,000) was the second highest and 34.4% higher than the
total sample mean. Other areas which had means higher than the total sample mean were Los
Angeles/Orange County Metro Area ($136,667), San Diego Metro Area ($144,786), and Other
New York Metro Area ($133,038)
In contrast to mean incomes, the Boston median income was higher than that for
Manhattan and other areas (see Figure 3). The median incomes for respondents employed in
each of the Metro areas and major cities exceeded the median income for other areas not
specified ($76,000). The median income for Boston ($140,000) was 84.2% higher than the
median income for other areas not specified, and 32.7% higher than the median for the
Manhattan metro area.
Note: Doctoral respondents only. Sample sizes are in parentheses.
Figure 4. 1997 median income for doctorates as a function of principal employer.
Type of principal employment. A majority (58%) of the survey respondents with
doctorates identified their principal employer as either a consulting firm (n =
270), a Ph.D.-granting academic department (n = 247), or a non-Ph.D.-granting
academic department (n = 210). Figure 4 shows that those who worked for an energy
production company earned the highest median income ($130,000), followed by respondents
who were self-employed ($117,500). Respondents employed in government research
organizations ($55,000) and non-Ph.D. academic departments ($57,000) reported the lowest
median incomes. In addition, respondents with doctorates employed in academic business
departments reported higher median incomes ($80,000) than respondents employed in
psychology departments ($56,000).
Primary job activity. Respondents were asked to indicate the percentage of time
they typically spend on certain professional activities. In this study, primary job
activity was classified as spending 26% or more time on a job activity. Unfortunately, the
broad item response category of "26% to 75%" precluded the ability to accurately
identify those who spent a true majority of their time (51% or more) on a certain
activity. Figure 5 shows that respondents with doctorates involved primarily in the
implementation of human factors design and systems reported the highest median income,
$134,000 (n = 4); however, this sample size is not large enough to suggest that
this is a highly reliable estimate of income for this field. Given the sample sizes for
the different categories, one can place greater confidence in the next highest median
incomes for those who performed industrial or management consulting ($109,000, n =
173) and the management of administration of personnel functions ($105,000, n =
55). Those who indicated that they spent a majority of their time teaching had the lowest
median income, ($60,000, n = 292).
Figure 5. 1997 median income for doctorates as a function of primary job activity.
Note. Doctoral respondents only. Sample sizes are in parentheses.
Source of Income
Figure 6. Percentiles and descriptive statistics representing the sources of and amount
earned in supplementary income.
Supplementary income. Of respondents with doctorates, 38.3% earned supplemental
income from one or more sources other than their principal employer (see Figure 6). The
median supplemental income for these respondents was $10,000; 10% of the respondents
earned $65,000 or more in supplemental income. Consulting was the most frequent source of
additional income and added the highest median ($10,000) and mean ($36,381) additional
Figure 7. Starting salaries for newly hired Ph.D.s by year of employment.
Starting salary for new Ph.D.s. The median starting salary for individuals with new
doctorates employed by SIOP members in 1997 was $51,000 and in 1998, it was $55,000 (see
Figure 7). Ten percent of those hired with new doctorates earned $70,000 or more. The
median starting salary for individuals with master's degrees in 1997 was $39,500, and in
1998 it was $38,750. Thus, the median starting salary for individuals with master's
degrees decreased by 1.9% since 1997, whereas the median starting salary for those with
new doctorates increased 7.8%. It is not known whether these individuals with new
doctorates or master's degrees were employed in the field prior to receiving their degree.
Highest primary income (total sample). Respondents in the top 5% of the income
distribution reported annual incomes of $250,000 to several million
dollars. These respondents tended to be male, aged 45 and older, had doctorates (95.7%),
and began professional employment more than 19 years ago. A majority of these high-earning
respondents held consulting jobs (40.8%). These characteristics are very similar to those
for the top 5% of the income distribution in the 1994 survey.
Job change. A total of 134 respondents (9.6% of the total sample) changed jobs
during 1997. Annual income tended to increase with job changes. For these respondents, the
median annual income before the job change was $62,000, and after the job change it was
Predicting Annual Income
Analyses of Pearson bivariate correlations showed that several variables are positively
associated with 1997 annual income (p < .05), including the following: (1)
gender (r = .11, male = 1, female = 0); (2) age (r = .16); (3) years of work
experience (r = .21); (4) employment in industry (r = .08) or a consulting
firm (r = .07); (5) employment in higher-cost urban geographic locations (r =
.06); (6) status as a SIOP fellow (r = .06); (7) status as an owner, partner, or
principal of a consulting or research firm (r = .21) ; (8) employee work status (r
= .06, full time = 1, part time = 0); and (9) tenure at primary job (r = .09).
Negative correlations were found for working in: (1) a psychology department (r =
_.08); (2) university with or without a Ph.D. program (r = _.07); (3) or a
government organization (r = _.06).
A simultaneous regression was conducted to determine the factors that predict annual
income. When all available variables were entered into the analysis, only one variable was
determined to be a significant predictor (p < .05) of 1997 income (i.e., status
as an owner, principal, or partner). This model accounted for 11% of the variance (p
< .05) in 1997 income (adjusted R2 = .04).
Because the "ownership" variable had a small sample size, it restricted the
degrees of freedom for the regression to 445; therefore, a second regression model was
tested that excluded this variable (df = 1052). With all of the remaining variables
entered into the analysis, seven were significant predictors (p < .05) of 1997
annual income. The number of years of professional work experience and APA Fellow status
were positively related to 1997 annual income. APS Fellow status (relative to the
reference category of APS member status) and employment in a university with or without a
Ph.D.-granting department, in a government organization, or in a private research firm or
other job (relative to the reference category of employment in a consulting firm) were
negatively related to 1997 annual income. This model accounted for 9% of the variance in
incomes (p < .001; adjusted R2 = .06).
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