The State of Scientists' Salaries

Getty Images Tis a good time to be a life scientist. Thanks to increases in the National Institutes of Health budget, a flood of defense spending, and a gradual warming in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, experienced investigators are in great demand. For senior US researchers, the benefits of the federal largesse appear in 2003 paychecks, according to The Scientist's latest salary survey. The average senior researcher, who holds a PhD and leads a lab, will earn $73,351(US) th

By | September 22, 2003

Getty Images

Tis a good time to be a life scientist. Thanks to increases in the National Institutes of Health budget, a flood of defense spending, and a gradual warming in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, experienced investigators are in great demand.

For senior US researchers, the benefits of the federal largesse appear in 2003 paychecks, according to The Scientist's latest salary survey. The average senior researcher, who holds a PhD and leads a lab, will earn $73,351(US) this year, a 7.3% increase over the $68,000 (US) average in 2002. Intermediate researchers' salaries rose 4.7%, from $48,000 to $50,250. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose only 2.1% in the 12-month period ending in July.

But researchers across the northern US border and across the Atlantic may not be popping champagne corks. Senior UK scientists, who consistently receive lower salaries than their US counterparts,1 saw their wages increase by only 1.7%, from £28,000 in 2002 to £28,479 this year. The cost of consumer goods rose at a higher rate. The UK retail price index, which is akin to the CPI in the United States, was up 2.9% in July. Senior Canadian researchers saw their salaries decline 5.2%, from $64,692 (Canadian) to $61,500, while the Canadian consumer price index rose 2.2%.

Such is the insight gleaned from 1,100 pages of results of The Scientist's 2003 Salary Survey. This marks the magazine's third year conducting the research, and the results are broader and deeper than before. More than 14,700 people employed in the life sciences answered in-depth surveys in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Abbott, Langer & Associates, a private data consultant in Crete, Ill., then parsed and organized the data into more than 60 categories, looking at salaries relating to job title, education level, gender, and race.

We've represented some of the key results using maps of the United States (PDF, 364K), the United Kingdom and Canada (PDF, 494K).

Sam Jaffe can be reached at sjaffe@the-scientist.com.

1. R. Gallagher, "Rhetoric is nice, but show 'em the money," The Scientist, 16[18]:8, Sept. 16, 2002.

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