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Should I negotiate salary for an entry-level position?

Without prior experience to leverage, it may be tempting to take the first offer presented. ACS Career Consultants help weigh the pros and cons of salary negotiation
Industry Matters Newsletter
Ruchi Tandon, University Collaborations Manager, Corning Inc.
Ruchi Tandon, University Collaborations Manager, Corning Inc.

Negotiating salary for any level should be weighed out vis-à-vis the overall career goal for the job seeker. When it comes to negotiating salary at the entry-level position, adopt a holistic approach and look beyond the salary as there may be other perks such as compensation, relocation package, part-time remote working, or simply a rapid growth opportunity that the job may offer. One must also not shortchange or undervalue the experience(s) and education that the first job may offer. It is essential to conduct comprehensive market research through online sources and utilizing one’s network to fully scope out the overall benefits before proceeding with the negotiation and ultimately accepting the offer. If the negotiation becomes essential, plan out the discussion such that the dialogue is well thought out, clear and crisp and yet be flexible and open to counter-offers.


Fran Kravitz, ACS Career Consultant and Career Workshop Presenter
Fran Kravitz, ACS Career Consultant and Career Workshop Presenter

Negotiations are important in obtaining any professional position no matter what level it is at, from entry level to CEO. Remember negotiations are not just for salary but for other benefits such as vacations, stock options, professional development programs, etc. Do your homework and be prepared by determining a reasonable salary range by using the ACS Salary Calculator.


Joe Martino, ACS Career Consultant
Joe Martino, ACS Career Consultant

Yes and no. Yes, you should do some research into how much you should be getting paid as an entry-level Bachelor's, Master's or Doctoral-level chemist by using the ACS Salary Calculator. You'll be asked some simple demographic and geographic questions and a salary range will be computed based on data received from ACS' yearly salary survey of its membership. Your entry-level salary should fall somewhere in the middle of this range as a minimum, and it is appropriate to use this data to negotiate a fair, market-value salary. However, since this is a first job from graduating, your leverage in negotiating salary any further from the range given by the ACS Salary Calculator may be limited. Remember that the primary goal of an entry-level position is to gain experience. Once you have, preferably, two years of experience, your leverage to command a higher salary will be much higher, especially if you are looking for new work while currently employed. If you're on the fence about whether to negotiate for a specific role or with a specific company, networking with peers -- especially with members of your Local Section's Younger Chemists Committee -- will be of help.  


This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

ACS Career Consultants are experts and leaders working in the field of chemistry who have volunteered to support other ACS members’ career development through one-on-one career counselling. They can stimulate your thinking, ask important career planning questions to help clarify goals, provide encouragement, teach strategies for making meaningful career decisions, and aid you in your job search. Connect with an ACS Career Consultant today!

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