The average salary of physicists nationwide was $112,020 per year, in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau indicates that the middle 50 percent of nuclear and other physicists made between $79,710 and $139,060 per year in 2010. The median salary for these physicists was $106,370, with the highest-paid physicists making more than $166,400 per year.
Nuclear scientists or nuclear physicists study the physical world at the subatomic level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 16,860 individuals employed as physicists in the U.S. in 2010. Nuclear scientists' salaries reflect the diversity of the type of research they conduct. The bureau indicates a wide range of salaries across the five largest industries in which nuclear scientists work and even higher salaries in smaller, more specialized industries.
The amount that nuclear scientists make is dependent upon who they work for. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest number of scientists worked in the scientific research and development sector, earning average annual salaries of $112,180 in 2010. The highest-paid nuclear scientists worked in various health care industries and made considerably more. For instance, those working in specialty hospitals made an average of $180,210 per year, while those working in the offices of physicians made an average of $175,180 per year in 2010.
Location also provides an indicator into the expected range of salaries for nuclear scientists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicists working in Minnesota made the highest average salary at $152,450 per year in 2010. The other four highest-paying states included Nevada, Kansas, Indiana and Florida. Average salaries in these states ranged from $137,470 to $151,590 per year in 2010. Illinois was the state with the highest level of employment of scientists in 2010. The average salary of nuclear scientists and other physicists in Illinois was $130,880, according to the bureau.
Overall, the job outlook for nuclear scientists and other physicists is expected to be favorable from 2008 to 2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase of 16 percent in terms of new jobs in this field during this period. The bureau indicates that there will be limited growth in the academic field for nuclear scientists, but significant opportunity should exist in other areas of research and development.
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