Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Decade in College and Your Starting Salary Is...

The American Institute of Physics has released it's latest data on the average salary for a physics and astronomy post-doc working at a PhD-granting university. So if you're considering that route, here's what you can plan on being paid:

Now compare that with the latest results for all post-PhD salaries (2003-2004) and you'll see that it pays to go work in the private sector or at a national lab.
However, the sad fact is that roughly two-thirds of those earning PhD's in physics and astronomy end up in a university post-doc.So if you were planning on getting rich doing science, you might want to consider another option.

Note: All figures and tables here come from the wonderfully useful (if slightly out of data) information found at AIP's Statistical Research Center. I suggest you check it out - if you haven't already.


  1. As you noted most of this is due to the fact that many people get post-docs initially. If you were to assume your starting salary is your starting salary as a professor, you now are looking at a starting salary of ~70000-80000 dollars.

    Now, I agree you won't be rich. But if you can claim a faculty position you will be doing better that most college educated Americans by a factor of ~2.

  2. The AIP reports 25th to 75th percentile for 12 month salary for an assistant professor is $50,000 - $70,000. For a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering, that range is $50,000 - $56,000 about 10 years sooner.

    Basically, basic science research doesn't pay very well. That doesn't make it a bad career choice - I wouldn't trade the satisfaction and work environment for $100k a year right now - but it is something to keep in mind.


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