Biological Scientists: Salary Overview
Biological scientists study living organisms and how they relate to the environment.
They may specialize in a variety of fields where they may study different aspects of the environment, plant, and animal life.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of biological scientists was $82,220 as of May 2019 which means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
In this study, BLS has included all biological scientists except biochemists, biophysicists, zoologists, and wildlife biologists.
Salaries vary depending on a wide range of factors, including the industry of employment, education, experience level, and the region.
The lowest 10 percent reportedly earned less than $48,670 per year, while the top 10 percent earned more than $133,080.
Biological Scientist Salary by Industry
According to BLS, the biggest employers for biological scientists are the federal executive branch, companies that provide scientific research and development services, colleges, universities, and professional schools.
Biological scientists who worked for the federal executive branch reportedly earned $86,420 per year, on average, while those who were employed in the field of scientific research and development services made around $100,340 per year, on average.
The average annual wage was $68,250 per year for biological scientists who worked for colleges, universities, and professional schools and $87,860 for those hired by companies that provide management, scientific, and technical consulting services.
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers reportedly remunerated biological scientists with $95,350 per year, on average.
According to BLS, the highest-paying field for biological scientists in 2019 were business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations- a field where the average annual wage for this profession was $112,090.
Higher-than-average wages were also reported by biological scientists in outpatient care centers, a sector where the mean annual wage for this profession was $108,300.
Salaries vary based on many other factors, including the level of education and their specialty.
Biological scientists typically hold at least a master’s degree in their specialty but a Ph.D. may give them access to a higher-paying position in research.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage reported by zoologists and wildlife biologists was $63,270 as of May 2019.
The median annual wage reported by biochemists and biophysicists, on the other hand, was $50,620.
Job prospects are looking good in the future for this profession but their exact job opportunities vary depending on their specialty, education level, and region.
Having additional skills as a biological scientist can be a plus.
For example, computer skills are very important in this field of work because you will use advanced computer software and modeling software in your work.
As you gain experience, you will have advancement opportunities which means that you will have additional responsibilities and greater independence and you will most likely earn a higher salary.
Wages for biological scientists also vary depending on the state of employment.
The top-paying states for this profession are the District of Columbia and Maryland – where the wages reported by biological scientists averaged at $108,280 per year and $106,030 per year as of May 2019.
Biological scientists in Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico, on the other hand, reportedly earned less than $65,000 per year, on average.
The top-paying metropolitan area for this profession was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California, where salaries averaged at $115,950.
Higher-than-average salaries were also reported in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California where the mean annual wage for this profession was $110,040.
In conclusion, the biological scientist profession can be well remunerated, especially if you’re a highly-educated and experienced specialist but it takes many years of work and study before being promoted to a position that can help you earn a six-figure salary.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Biological Scientists. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.