The annual Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) Salary Survey is always a revealing benchmarking tool. But this year, the 2022 edition offers a particularly interesting snapshot of an industry and a workforce in flux.
The Big Picture
Best Predictors of Salary
- Of the 31 respondents who reported not having an undergraduate degree, nearly half (45%) of them earn more than $100,000. That figure was 36% in 2021 and 25% in 2020. Lack of an undergraduate degree is becoming less of an impediment to success, but more education still correlates with higher salaries, more raises, and better security.
- Those without undergrad degrees earned an unweighted average of $100,970, the first time in PW’s tenure with this study that they’ve averaged six figures. That’s up 6% from $95,380 in 2021, which was up 12% over 2020’s reported $84,500. Perhaps this is an indicator of the tightening labor market, and the need to look outside of the usual undergraduate degree talent pools. Still, the biggest salary gains are to be made once a degree is earned.
- The biggest salary jump based on education, a 22% salary increase, was reported between a high school/some undergraduate ($100,970), and an undergraduate degree ($122,630). Average salaries increase by 18% from undergraduate to graduate degree, and 21% from graduate to doctorate. Note: only 11 respondents reported having a doctoral degree, so it’s a small sample size.
- Certified Packaging Professionals earned an average of $134,310 in 2021, as reported in 2022, 15% more than their non-CPP peers who reported an average of $116,590.
- People without undergraduate degrees are less likely to have gotten a raise in the past year (2021). Only 42% of those without undergraduate degrees reported getting a raise, compared to undergraduate degree holders (76% got a raise), graduate degree holders (66%), and doctoral degree holders (80%).
- People with undergraduate degrees feel more secure in their jobs. 56% feel very secure and 35% feel somewhat secure. Respectively, those numbers are 48% and 29% for those without undergraduate degrees.
- Those without undergraduate degrees are the least optimistic about earning more in 2022 than in 2021. Only 52% of them expect to do so, compared to undergraduate degree holders (66%), graduate degree holders (73%), and doctoral degree holders (60%).
- In prior years, the largest experience-based pay jump was between the 3- to 5-year range and the 6- to 10-year range. This was 23% last year. This year, respondents say that biggest jump happens even earlier on the experience continuum. A jump of 23% is reported between the ≤2-year range ($95,700) and the 3- to 5-year range ($111,560). We see another strong, but less pronounced pay jump (17%) happening between the 3- to 5-year range ($111,560) and the 6- to 10-year range ($128,240). This means that employers appear to be willing to promote and pay more and more quickly for talented, but less experienced employees than they have in previous years.
- Just as we saw last year, we see another major pay jump as respondents move from intermediate experience ranges to the >20 year mark. This is to be expected since there are some large salaries among careers that have spanned more than 20 years, and may include careers upwards of 40 years.
- Of the six experience cohorts, the three most experienced (10-15, 16-20, and >20 years) are less likely to expect to earn more this year than they did the previous year, and more likely to expect to earn less this year than the previous year. Perhaps this is evidence of plateauing salaries at later stages of careers, and limited upward mobility. After 20 years or more in an organization, people may have advanced as far as they can, and as such salary gains may not be as dramatic.
- Of the six experience cohorts, the three least experienced (≤2-, 3- to 5-, and 6- to 10-years) are all 99% confident in at least earning the same as last year. Respectively, 79%, 83%, and 85% expect to earn more.
- Bonuses are a different story. People at the lower experience levels are less confident in bonuses, and less likely to have received one in the last year. Of respondents with ≤2 years of experience, 47% got a bonus last year and expect to get them this year. Of the 3- to 5-year experience range, 57% got a bonus last year and expect to get one this year. All other experience cohorts were near or above 70%, both in receiving a bonus last year, and expecting one this year. It appears that confidence in bonus correlates with greater experience.
- Experience still pays. The lower experience cohorts do see big salary gains earlier than ever (after ≤2 years), and those jumps, at least as a percentage, are not as dramatic among the 10+ year experience cohorts. Still, those who traverse the plateau and make it to the >20-year cohort see on average a 16% salary jump after 20 years. A chart on page 43, titled “Biggest Salary Gains Coming Earlier than Ever” illustrates this dynamic, and how it’s changed in recent years.
- The largest average salary increase, a 44% jump from $91,740 to $132,440, occurs between the 18-34 cohort and the 35-44 cohort. Average increases thereafter slow to 10% from 34-44 to 45-54, and 16% from 45-54 to 55-64, then we see a sharp drop off in salaries in the >65 years of age (-32%). This is perhaps due to emeritus status, reduced hours, semi-retirement, etc. in the >65 age group.
- This survey once again illustrates that while the highest salaries are certainly among the older and more experienced ranges, the largest percentage gains are to be had early on; in fact earlier on than ever. Also, there may be some diminished salary returns toward the end of a career, perhaps due to limited upward mobility/plateauing, compounded due to planned responsibility reductions. Among unprompted, write-in concerns (chart on page 48), Ageism/Staying Relevant again makes an appearance among 3% of respondents.
- Of the 18-34 cohort, 87% expect to earn more than last year, reflecting the most confidence in a raise of any age cohort. This reflects the greater upward mobility of younger ages. Only 67% of the 55-64 cohort and 38% of the >65 cohort, (about 2/3 and 1/3, respectively) expect to earn more next year.
- Of the 18-34 cohort, 90% are very or somewhat secure in their jobs, exhibiting higher job security confidence than any other age cohort.
- 30% of the youngest cohort, aged 18-34, make more than $100,000 per year. That’s up 4 percentage points from 26% in as reported last year. That cohort also earned 3% more in 2021 ($91,740 reported in 2022), than last year. The previous year, they had earned 8% more in 2020 ($88,980, reported in 2021) than they did in 2019 ($82,560, reported in 2020). Salaries among the youngest cohort continue to grow at or more quickly than the overall averages.
- 33% of the oldest 65+ cohort earn less than $100,000, perhaps indicating reduction in hours or responsibility. They also earn 32% less ($116,250) than the next youngest cohort, 55- to 64-year-olds, who report making the most of any age group at $170,580.
- The average salary reported by women ($113,970) now trails that of men ($127,900) by 22% in 2021 (reported in 2022), meaning the gender pay gap among respondents on this survey, is growing. This gap was 17% in 2020 (reported in 2021), and 16% in 2019 (reported in 2020).
- Men (72%) and women (70%) reported receiving a salary increase last year at nearly the same clip. The reported size of the raise was similar, too, though women were more likely to report the lowest raise range: 79% of women, and 74% of men reported a ≤5% raise. Meanwhile, only 13% of women reported a 6-10% raise, compared to 20% of men. While these are similar, men reported slightly more raises in general at the outset. Then, the percentage increase of those raises was slightly higher among men. These factors compound to help widen the gap.
- Both men and women reported having received a bonus last year at the same rate, and their expectations for future bonus are about the same. Women are slightly more secure in their jobs, also.
- While the at-first-glance parity on all of these metrics is encouraging, women aren’t reporting quite as many or as high of raises as their male counterparts, which only grows the wage gap. Not to mention, even if there were parity on these metrics, that wouldn’t translate to equality considering that women begin with the disadvantage of a lower average salary as a starting point.
- Women skew younger than men, with 43% being in the 18-34 cohort. Only 23% of men are in that cohort.
- Women are less experienced than men, with more than half (56%) having less than 10 years of experience. Less than a third (29%) of men report having less than 10 years of experience. The experience gap among respondents is even wider than it was last year, when 49% of women claimed 10 years or less experience, compared to 33% of men.
- More women (61%) than men (52%) report having an undergraduate degree only. However, among those with undergraduate degrees, 31% of men and 24% of women report a graduate degree, so a big-picture takeaway is that women and men report roughly equal levels of education.
- 19% of women respondents are engineers, compared to 28% of men. Current programs attracting women to STEM education aim to bridge that gap.
- 5% of women respondents are in corporate management positions, compared to 9% of men. Programs aimed at training women for leadership positions hopefully should help toward more equal representation in this job function.
- Women (21%) are more concentrated than men (11%) is sales and marketing roles.
Gender-based wage gap grows.
Not All Packaging Jobs Fare Equally
Who won in 2021?
- The Packaging Technology/Design job function, which is one of our largest reporting job functions, made a 14% jump from $124,170 in 2020 (reported in 20201) to $141,190 in 2021 (reported in 2022).
- Money isn’t everything; job security is nice to have, too. Of the 18-34 age cohort, 90% are very or somewhat secure in their jobs, exhibiting higher job security confidence than any other age cohort.
- Respondents who are IoPP Members earn more than non-members, by roughly 15%.
- Salaries in the Mountain Region once again grew, this year by 27% to $151,830. They had grown by 19% the previous year, so the region containing states AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, and WY is reporting quickly growing salaries. The West South Central region (AR, LA, OK, TX) grew salaries by 18%, and the Mid Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA) grew salaries by 15%, also higher than other regions.
- The Beverage industry reported a 28% increase in salaries to an average of $145,260.
- Pharmaceutical and Medical industry respondents are most bullish about the receiving a raise coming year, with 84% and 82%, respectively, expecting to earn more next year than this year. They experienced salary increases of 11% and 7%, and the Pharma industry as a whole is the highest-earning industry among respondents ($165,200).
- Respondents who make it past ≤2 year experience cohort, and grow into the 3-5 year range, have the greatest upward mobility, and received the largest percentage salary jump (23%) between consecutive experience cohorts. In previous years, this had happened after 5 years, indicating a shortening time period of “paying one’s dues” before a big reward. This experience group is in line with other experience cohorts when it comes to expecting a raise in the coming year, though fewer did in the previous year, which stands to reason since its made up of respondents with ≤2 of experience.
- The oldest pre-retirement age group, aged 55-64, experienced a 16% jump over the previous year, to $170,580 from last year’s $147,111.
- Mid-sized companies, from 500-4,999 in size, saw a 15% increase in salaries to $138,800, the highest percentage increase of the various company size ranges. The largest companies (50,000 employees or more) still command the highest salary figures ($151,840), but those numbers could be skewed by a few high-earning C-Suite positions at major global CPGs.
In-line with the average
- Respondents in the Food industry experienced a 7% average salary increase, exactly in line with the overall average.
- The engineering job function is important since it tends to be the single largest job duty represented in this survey. Engineers reported slightly higher salaries this year over last, at $124,190 this year compared to $117,800 last year, but the 5% gain doesn’t quite keep pace with 7% overall. The previous year, engineer salaries increased from $108,700 last year to $117,800, an 8% bump, so this represents a stable, evenly growing job duty category that’s in line with averages.
- The middle age range of 35-44 experienced a 9% increase, reporting a jump from $121,570 to $132,440.
Most negatively affected
- Salaries in the Northeast, and East South-Central, Pacific, and South Atlantic regions are standing pat by barely changing at all (±2% salary change in all these regions), but they are not keeping pace with the overall 7% growth. The East South-Central region of AL, KY, MS, and TN also reported the lowest salaries of all regions at an average of $109,620.
- Among women, average salaries reported only grew 4%, compared to a 9% average salary increase for men.
- Corporate management salaries as reflected in this survey went up by 3% compared to the previous year, from $190,970 to $196,280. While any growth beats the alternative, the 3% increase doesn’t keep pace with the 7% overall salary increase.
- The smallest companies, with 1-9 employees, again saw a salary drop, down 4% from $104,210 last year to $99,700 in 2021 (reported in 2022). The previous year, they experienced a 7% drop in salary, so this is an ongoing trend.
- Last year, the oldest cohort, 65+, experienced the largest year-over-year salary bump of 31%, from $107,250 to $140,350. This was trend reversed, or perhaps reverted to the mean, by returning to $116,250, a 20% drop from the previous year. Also, only 48% of those 65+ expect to earn more next year than this year, much lower than other age cohorts, perhaps indicating upcoming retirement or reduced hours. With smaller sample sizes than other age ranges, and the potential for limited work schedules/reduced hours, it’s difficult to get a good read on the 65+ category.