How Much Do Scientists Get Paid a Year?


Behind every question of how and why something in our universe works is a scientist. Scientists have long been at the forefront of not only answering these questions, but using their knowledge and findings to make the world a better place. They will always have a place in the workforce, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of areas of specialization as well as many working environments. The salary that scientists can make varies greatly based on many factors.

Biological Scientists

  • Biological scientists are focused on understanding life and have a large variety of fields of study to choose from. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 the average salary of a biological scientist was $69,430 a year. The reported wages range from less than $36,750 in the bottom 10th percentile to more than $100,580 in the top 10th percentile. The highest paying area of the country for biological scientists was the District of Columbia, with an mean wage of $104,350 a year. However, the report states that the highest paying employer was not the federal government, but the offices of physicians. There were a limited number of positions in this workplace in 2009, but the average salary was $93,710 a year.

Medical Scientists

  • Most of the medical technology over the past few centuries can be credited to medical scientists who study disease, human health and medicine. Based on the 2009 report, there were around 101,760 medical scientists working for a national average salary of $84,760 a year. Those in the bottom 10th percentile made less than $41,320, and scientists in the top 10th percentile reported more than $138,840 in annual wages. The highest paying region in the U.S. was the state of Vermont, where medical scientists earned $120,850 on average. Surprisingly, the highest paying industry for medical scientists was wholesale electronic markets, paying $117,530 a year on average.

Chemical and Materials Scientists

  • The study of chemicals and their properties is done to help develop current and new materials for the production of goods. A chemical or material scientist could expect to have made an average of $82,350 a year as of 2009. The bottom 10th percentile of earners made less than $43,820 a year while the highest paid in the top 10th percentile brought home over $125,760 annually, according to the bureau. The highest paying state in the U.S. for chemical and material scientists was Connecticut with an average of $119,980 a year while the federal government paid more than any other employer, averaging $123,230 a year.

Environmental Scientists

  • These scientists study the air, earth, food, water and any other natural element on the planet. There were 83,530 environmental scientists working in the U.S. in 2009 earning an annual mean wage of $67,360 a year. In the bottom 10th percentile, salaries were less than $37,120 a year, but in the top 10th percentile an environmental scientist could average more than $107,190 a year. The District of Columbia was the highest paying area of the country at $104,880 a year, but the federal government was only the second highest paying employer. On average, computer systems design firms paid slightly more at $94,410 annually.


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