Physicists working for the government, however, have less reason to complain about being underpaid by comparison to the industrial scale: While young government physicists may start around $37,000 (versus $44,300 for industry) and may stay comparatively underpaid during the early stages of their careers, the salaries of older government physicists compare more favorably with those of industry physicists. Among the most experienced of them, in fact, median salaries in government come very close to those in industry: $67,700 versus $70,000.

The AlP based its analysis on salaries reported by more than 1,500 of its Ph.D. members in 1986, the most recent year for which its data are ready for release.

According to the survey, industry paid 19% more than govern- ment for the newest Ph.D.’s, 13% more for midcareer physicists (15 to 19 years after their degrees), and 3% more for the most experienced physicists (25 or more years after...

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