What Is the Salary Range for Research Associates?


Research associates are professionals who conduct experiments and studies to answer questions, prove theories or clarify things that are not understood. Associates work in a variety of industries and organizations and come from a number of educational backgrounds. A research associate often begins his career as a research assistant and then gets promoted after he gains more experience. According to Payscale.com, the average salary of a research associate depends largely upon how many years of experience she has in the field and the type of employer for which she works.

Work Experience

  • A research associate's salary depends largely upon how much work experience she has in the field. In August 2009, associates with less than one year of experience earned a median salary between $31,293 and $45,393, according to Payscale, while those with one to four years of work experience earned a salary of between $34,426 and $50,198. The median salary range for five to nine years of experience was between $38,418 and $58,692. From years 10 to 19, associates earned salaries of between $41,236 and $65,226. A research associate with 20 years or more of experience can earn as much as $102,884.

Employer Type

  • The type of employer a research associate works for also affects her salary range. Private practices and firms have the highest median salaries with a maximum of $67,249, but at $40,000, publicly traded companies paid higher starting salaries. Some of the lowest-paying employers of research associates were school districts, with a median salary range of $30,897 to $52,900, and foundations and trusts with a salary range of $34,590 to $48,053.

Industry Type

  • As of August 2009, industry also influenced the salary range of research associates. Contracted research organizations were the highest-paying areas for associates, with median salaries of between $40,173 and $63,524. Colleges and universities paid between $31,575 and $50,921, while public health companies paid between $33,651 to $53,074. Associates working in biotechnology made between $34,492 and $48,391.

Geographic Area

  • The area where a research associate works also affects his salary range. The highest-paying state for associates as of August 2009 was New York, with median salaries of between $39,273 and $62,249. Other high-paying states for research associates were California at between $36,302 and $56,052, Pennsylvania at $30,057 to $58,932, and Maryland at $37,184 to $55,897.


  • The education level of research associates also affects average salary range. The highest-paid associates held doctoral degrees, earning between $43,355 and $79,000 as of August 2009, while those with masters of science degrees earned between $34,807 and $57,754. Associates who held bachelors of science degrees were the lowest paid, at between $31,029 and $42,438.


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