Pity Party's Over: Survey Says Scientist Salaries on the Rise

Last Updated Oct 26, 2009 11:15 PM EDT

Despite the fact that companies across the board are freezing salaries, skipping bonuses and reminding employees they should feel lucky just to have a job, scientists are still raking in the big bucks.

Scientists themselves apparently don't see it that way. US News lists Medical Scientist among the most overrated jobs:

According to MIT faculty member Philip Greenspun, "Adjusted for IQ, quantitative skills, and working hours, jobs in science are the lowest paid in the United States.... [You spend] 10 years banging your head against an equation-filled blackboard in hopes of landing a $35,000/year post-doc job."
But according to The Scientist's recent salary survey, it's not that bad. Not quite anyway. It depends on where you live, but scientists in the D.C. suburbs earn $110,000 on average, and those in San Francisco bring in $106,000. Even in the lowest-paying locations - Charlottesville, Va., came in at $62,000 â€" scientists still make more than the average American.

And the average scientist got a five percent raise this year, which The Scientist pointed to as evidence that companies prefer to "cut nonessential jobs rather than risk losing top talent by reducing salaries."

Other trends of interest: endocrinology, biophysics and immunology pay the best; plant scientists, cell biologists and developmental biologists pull up the rear. You can also make a lot more money in administration, patents/licensing or clinical research than in quality control, analytical services or laboratory research.
Not satisfied with your paycheck? You know what you've gotta do â€" go to the dark side. Industry jobs pay two to three times that of academia.

  • Trista Morrison

    Trista Morrison is a staff writer at BioWorld Today, a daily newspaper that