IoPP’s 2021 Salary Survey Results: How Did Your Compensation Stack Up?

After a flat salary year in 2020 with heightened uncertainty about both traditional salary increases and bonuses, 2021 results indicate confidence returning. Meanwhile, job security is high and fewer people are seeking greener pastures at new jobs.


Quick hits:

  • After a lot of worry and dropping expectations for raises and bonuses in last year’s survey (taking at the onset of the pandemic), 2021 responses reflect renewed optimism about salary potential.
  • Job security and job loyalty are at all-time highs for this survey. And packagers weathered the pandemic well, with very little job loss or job turnover compared to most other industries. People have been and are still staying put, secure in their positions.
  • Percentage wise, the biggest jump in salary, occurs after about 3-5 years of experience in the industry. Get out of school, get some experience and get on your feet, and expect to see a salary bump. 

Related to this episode:

High Tek Professional Packaging Services: Experience. Performance. Support. Success! Visit their website for more information. →
Listen to the story here:


   Read the transcript below:

Matt Reynolds: Hi, I'm Matt Reynolds, editor of Packaging World Magazine back with another edition of Take Five. And it's a special edition of Take Five because this is our first ever guest on Take Five. Normally it's just me the talking head on your screen. But today I'm honored to be joined by Jane Chase, CPP, fellow and executive director of IOPP. That's the Institute of Packaging Professionals. And today we're here to talk about salary, salary surveys. IOPP has been doing the same salary survey every year for going on two decades now. And Packaging Worlds is lucky that they send us the results that they cultivate and, and we're being able to publish that. So, Jane welcome.

Jane Chase: Thank you, Matt. And thank you to Packaging World and you, you've given us such fantastic publicity and done such excellent analysis of the survey and got it out to the industry. Kudos to you.

Matt Reynolds: Thank you. Yeah, well, we love the content because, honestly, salary is a tough topic to talk about in most contexts, but when you remove the individual people from it, and it's ambiguous in such a way that it's overall trends then we're able to talk about it in polite company. So, it was a big year, a big couple of years that we're comparing on year over year, because last year as we did this, the survey results were coming in just as the pandemic rolled out. So there was a lot of uncertainty happening. This year we got new results. So big picture wise, year over year, what are the trends that you saw as those results came?

Jane Chase: I think that the key was like you said, the data that we collected last year was collected pre and post pandemic. So it was a bit of a mix. We expected to see last year more ranks, which we didn't, but this year we're seeing extremely positive, particularly in the salary area. We're seeing salaries overall, jumping back, getting more in line with 2018 salary ranges.

Matt Reynolds: And the numbers that we're seeing are normalizing because there was a lot of uncertainty last year, the expectation to receive a salary raise or a bonus last year dropped from our usual around 70 percent to 70 plus percent down to 63 percent because nobody knew what was going to be going on. But that rebounded this year to more than 70 percent. So what that demonstrates to us is that confidence is returning and stability is returning, do you agree?

Jane Chase: Absolutely seeing the confidence map. And when you look at the data, not only are 71 percent of the people fully expecting to earn more next year, 95 percent expect to earn the same or more. So that's even more positive for where the industry is headed.

Matt Reynolds: Right, exactly. Okay. Some things that we noticed in this year survey hadn't really changed much, but they're notable because they haven't. And one of those is that we see consistently year over year, the biggest jump in salary percentage wise is when employees hit that three to five year experience level. Jane, is there any background to that?

Jane Chase: It's just, when you come out of school, you take those three to five years, you prove yourself. And that's when you're a really valuable asset to any organization.

Matt Reynolds: That stands to reason. One slightly disappointing, but you know, it's an ongoing thing that we recognized in this survey, the gender gap continues to persist and we didn't expect any major uptick year over year. We did see some uptick last year and that stayed roughly flat or consistent from last year to this year. Still, there is some reason for optimism. Jane, maybe you can tell us more.

Jane Chase: Well, a little bit disappointing that we didn't see that gap close a little bit more, but again, the respondents to the survey, the women, even though they had the same, or maybe more education than their counterparts, they were younger and had less experience in the industry. So that kind of explains why we're where we're at. And as they have more time in the industry, we hope to see more closing of that gap.

Matt Reynolds: And as they grow into the industry too, they'll start to occupy positions in leadership like corporate management that tend to command higher salaries as well. So hopefully some good news in the mail there. Another thing that we saw as an all time high in this salary survey was loyalty and job security. People are sticking around, they're less likely to look for greener pastures elsewhere. Jane, can you comment?

Jane Chase: Yeah, I loved it that 81 percent of the respondents felt either very secure or somewhat secure in their positions and very few, 50 percent, were either not going to be looking for a job or were very unlikely to be looking for a new position. So very positive news that people are happy where they're at and feeling good about the industry.

Matt Reynolds: It could be also a result of the environment that people in times of uncertainty tend to hunker down and to stick with what they have as opposed to exposing themselves to the risk of the unknown. So that could be another outgrowth of the pandemic, but at the same time, it's good to see such stickiness in the industry. One final element I wanted to bring up that I would be remiss not to mention, and that is that IOPP members tend to do better than their non-member counterparts. And also CPP certified or Certified Packaging Professionals tend to do better than their counterparts. Jane do you have any comments on that?

Jane Chase: As leading the organization and being a proponent of membership and certification, it's gratifying. The respondents, members versus non-members, of IOPP the members earned over nine percent more in salary than non-members. And the Certified Packaging Professionals that responded earned seven percent more on average than those that were not certified. So I just have to put the plug in Matt for membership and being certified and really upping your credentials in the industry it's worth the effort.

Matt Reynolds: Absolutely. Good. Well, I think that's about all the time we have. Jane if the folks... as this episode airs, the survey will be released to the public. So should they go to IOPP's website and where can they find more information on that?

Jane Chase: Go to iopp.org. The salary survey will be in the publication section on the website. And you guys look for the article that Matt wrote on the salary survey, always does a fantastic job of doing the summary and bringing the survey to life.

Matt Reynolds: Thanks, Jane. And yes, that'll be in the July issue. That's mailing in mid-July. So it will be arriving in mailboxes any day now. So with that, thanks, Jane. Thanks again for all your help with the survey and that's all for another edition of Take Five.

More in Take Five