The Salaries of Scientists by Discipline

     This page presents information of the pay scales of US scientists. The data, which is collected from salary.com, is summarized and tabulated here. Comparisons with some other selected employment sectors are provided at the bottom of this webpage.

The information is current as of November, 2003. Notably changes since our January, 2002 report are summarized below.

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Summary

Employee Type
Median Salary
Experienced Senior Physicist
$99,783
Experienced Senior Geologist
$83,972
Experienced Astronomer
$82,409
Experienced Senior Chemist
$80,376
Experienced Senior Biologist
$77,960
Experienced Clinical Researcher
$72,664
Experienced Academic Researcher
$62,704
Experienced Biochemist
$53,020


Comments: Physicists are the best paid scientists by a significant margin. The relatively high pay scale of astronomers is somewhat surprising since there are no industrial jobs in astronomy. The salary figure for geologists benefits from the petroleum industry. It is hard to understand why biochemists are paid so poorly.


Comprensive Salary Table

Employee Type
25th Percentile Salary
Median Salary
75th Percentile Salary
Astronomer
$81,099
$82,409
$95,090
Biologist I
$30,850
$34,274
$38,464
Biologist II
$36,678
$43,628
$51,737
Biologist III
$47,626
$53,078
$61,341
Biologist IV
$56,969
$65,503
$72,821
Biologist V
$65,017
$77,960
$90,445
Biochemist I
$34,069
$38,546
$45,056
Biochemist II
$44,609
$48,958
$53,591
Biochemist III
$48,987
$53,020
$60,006
Biophysicist
$44,496
$48,865
$56,604
Chemist I
$35,708
$39,124
$43,666
Chemist II
$44,056
$47,882
$53,051
Chemist III
$53,160
$59,137
$68,251
Chemist IV
$63,313
$70,666
$78,327
Chemist V
$72,158
$80,376
$91,950
Clinical Researcher I
$36,878
$48,766
$51,000
Clinical Researcher II
$52,701
$61,669
$66,615
Clinical Researcher III
$65,845
$72,664
$79,802
Geologist I
$34,991
$37,961
$40,805
Geologist II
$41,914
$44,553
$48,744
Geologist III
$50,383
$55,556
$60,053
Geologist IV
$59,758
$65,205
$72,642
Geologist V
$76,333
$83,972
$91,905
Physicist I
$41,603
$44,048
$48,084
Physicist II
$49,502
$55,255
$63,685
Physicist III
$62,009
$67,714
$78,503
Physicist IV
$73,285
$81,856
$91,291
Physicist V
$94,064
$99,783
$107,874
Academic Researcher I
$40,079
$46,096
$47,821
Academic Researcher II
$49,269
$55,158
$61,149
Academic Researcher III
$53,720
$62,704
$72,624
Zoologist
$45,057
$55,014
$67,845

Notes: Tier I scientists have 0-2 years of experience; Tier II scientists have 2-4 years; Tier III have 4-6 or more years of experience; Tier IV have 6-8 years of experience; Tier IV have 8 or more years of experience.


Pay Scales for Educators Across All Academic Subjects

Employee Type
25th Percentile Salary
Median Salary
75th Percentile Salary
High School Teacher
$36,214
$45,705
$53,686
Assistant Professor
$49,520
$60,607
$73,834
Associate Professor
$61,630
$75,002
$92,232
Full Professor
$79,309
$97,268
$119,483


Comments: The above data indicates that full professors are now paid a little better than industrial scientists. High school salaries are low – an indication that state and local governments do not put sufficient money into public education.


Pay Scales for Mathematicians

Employee Type
25th Percentile Salary
Median Salary
75th Percentile Salary
Mathematician
$40,997
$47,193
$54,527
Senior Mathematician
$67,951
$75,901
$80,234



Salaries of Engineers in Scientifically Related Fields

Employee Type
25th Percentile Salary
Median Salary
75th Percentile Salary
Chemical Engineer I
$46,739
$50,401
$56,256
Chemical Engineer II
$56,154
$61,617
$68,956
Chemical Engineer III
$61,045
$65,729
$72,623
Chemical Engineer IV
$70,255
$76,474
$83,187
Chemical Engineer V
$82,198
$89,292
$95,965
Electrical Engineer I
$41,304
$44,629
$49,212
Electrical Engineer II
$49,364
$55,260
$61,221
Electrical Engineer III
$59,193
$69,350
$71,018
Electrical Engineer IV
$69,944
$75,850
$83,100
Electrical Engineer V
$80,858
$86,313
$92,212
Materials Engineer I
$46,493
$51,038
$53,556
Materials Engineer II
$54,208
$60,152
$65,779
Materials Engineer III
$59,674
$64,728
$72,139
Mechanical Engineer I
$44,900
$49,336
$53,389
Mechanical Engineer II
$55,410
$59,714
$65,738
Mechanical Engineer III
$62,915
$68,598
$75,534
Mechanical Engineer IV
$71,794
$77,716
$84,359
Mechanical Engineer V
$82,683
$89,213
$96,092
Nuclear Engineer I
$50,603
$54,417
$60,882
Nuclear Engineer II
$56,629
$62,498
$69,560
Nuclear Engineer III
$65,256
$69,898
$78,545
Nuclear Engineer IV
$76,024
$82,210
$90,847
Nuclear Engineer V
$87,810
$91,777
$102,790
Petroleum Engineer I
$40,619
$44,612
$47,693
Petroleum Engineer II
$57,148
$61,397
$73,580
Petroleum Engineer III
$81,607
$101,615
$103,604



Selected Salaries of Other Sectors for Comparative Purposes

Employee Type
25th Percentile Salary
Median Salary
75th Percentile Salary
Orthopedic Surgeon
$230,819
$293,002
$361,119
Physician (generalist)
$121,292
$135,675
$157,942
Attorney I
$64,719
$74,567
$84,166
Attorney II
$82,138
$96,082
$111,753
Attorney III
$112,305
$127,215
$143,654
Computer Web Designer
$48,742
$55,936
$66,256
Senior Systems Manager
$65,385
$74,476
$84,420
Clinical Pharmacist
$69,597
$74,623
$79,732
Corporate Economist
$71,996
$84,438
$100,435
Stock Broker
$40,613
$46,713
$50,570


Notable Changes:

Compared to January, 2002 (see the previous report), scientists suffered considerable salary drops: geologists' salaries decreased about 20%, and chemists' salaries dropped around 5%, while biologists' and physicists' salaries decreased about 15%, even ignoring the effect of inflation, which contributes about 5% additional reduction to scientists' salaries. In other disciplines suchs as astronomy, biochemisty, biophysics and zoology, salaries increased to match inflation. Engineers related to the above affected disciplines also lost some ground: Less experienced chemical engineers and less experienced electrical engineers witnessed drops of around 10%. The salaries of other engineers increased at the same rate as inflation. In summary, the weak labor market during the past two years has significantly affected scientists negatively.



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