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How much do scientists get paid?
Question Date: 2006-09-29
Answer 1:

I'd say that salary depends mostly on three things: You level of education, your field (physics, biology, computer science, etc.) and whether you work for a university/college or for a company.

Generally speaking, the more education you have, the more you make. Companies usually pay more than colleges or universities. I found samples of high-ranking science salaries on this site:

science salaries

Experienced Senior Physicist
Experienced Senior Geologist
Experienced Senior Chemist
Experienced Astronomer
Experienced Senior Biologist
Experienced Clinical Researcher
Experienced Academic Researcher

In my opinion, the best reason to choose a particular career is because you will find it exciting and enjoyable. You need to make enough to support yourself and people who depend on you, but all the stuff you can buy won't make up for a job you hate. I teach biology at a small college because I enjoy teaching and am fascinated by all sorts of living things. I could make more in another field or working for a private company, but I wouldn't be as happy.

What do you enjoy most? Who has a job that you wish you had? Most people would be happy to tell you about their jobs, so you might want to email them with questions about their careers.

I wish you the best of luck in finding a career that works for you.

Answer 2:

That's a great question. The answer depends on your degree, where you work, amount of experience, and probably also on what field of science you studied in school.

From what I've seen, a physics Ph.D. in the Los Angeles area can make around $80,000 to $120,000 per year.

You can find salary data from some of the professional societies, such as the American Institute of Physics:


For chemists, there's a report on the American Chemical Society's web site.

You can also see salary information for a number of different occupations at salary.com, which has data that seem to agree with the other sources I've listed.

Answer 3:

Carlos, this is a good question that I have been thinking about recently. Scientists can stay close to their academic roots and continue researching in academia, as well as teach, or they can work at companies in industry. The distinction is public and private sector. Professors at the University of California start around $50,000 and I think PhD's in industry start around $80,000.

Answer 4:

Science is a very broad field (even the disciplines, such as Chemistry or Physics, are extremely broad) and it is difficult to summarize the wide variety of jobs that are encompassed when one speaks of science. And in addition to raw monetary figures, one must consider medical and other benefits, the impact of the workload and type of work on one's lifestyle, and the freedom to research your topic of choice.

Science careers are often more driven by personal motivation and interest in the topic then by "watching the clock till the weekend" and viewing the job as only a source of income. The most important distinguishing characteristic in science professions is whether the job is academic (i.e. they work for a university or school) or industry (working for a company). Industry jobs typically pay a higher average salary, but academics enjoy greater freedom of research topics, lifestyle, and working goals. No one general statement will hold true in all cases, though.

Despite these difficulties, various organizations try to keep track of salaries in the science world, and a quick Google search may help you find some of them. I tracked down a couple that I think are worth looking at, like the first one of the first answer in this page.

This website has scientist salaries broken down by discipline and rough "grade" of experience, and shows mean average) salary, as well as 25th percentile and 75th percentile salaries, to help give some idea of the higher and lower levels the salary may fluctuate through. It also includes a few "normal" professions to compare salaries with.


This site allows you to search salaries in the life sciences discipline. Exploring with it showcases the differing benefits and salaries between various jobs, and academic vs. non-academic expectations.

Answer 5:

Not as much as you would think! Some scientists work for large companies and make lots and lots of money while other scientists do a lot of research and don't make that much money, but get to travel to lots of places to do their research.

Answer 6:

Scientists get paid anything from $0 to a lot. Some scientists are unemployed, and some have high-paying jobs. You might be interested in this:
My son's job (software engineer) was ranked the best job in America by Money magazine.

Click Here to return to the search form.

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