• Question: Do you get paid well as a scientist?

    Asked by band499bed to Zoe V, Paul, Michael S, Martin M, Kevin B, Erin P, David M, Alexander DB on 20 Feb 2024. This question was also asked by aced499bed, cede1tad, aced1tad, been1ape, care1ask, sard1apt, arms1fab, ease1fad, hand1art, lol, Khloe Kardashian.
    • Photo: Martin McCoustra

      Martin McCoustra answered on 20 Feb 2024: last edited 20 Feb 2024 4:24 pm

      I get reasonably well paid… My annual salary is around £80,000 and my university makes a large contribution to my pension. But I’ve been a professional scientist for a long time. Our professional bodies record starting salaries for newly qualified scientists and typically chemists and physicists can start on around £36,000 after leaving with a good first degree. A research degree will increase that a bit but not as much as having professional membership of a learned society.

    • Photo: Erin Pallott

      Erin Pallott answered on 20 Feb 2024:

      I currently bring home about £2,000 a month as a PhD student, plus a bit extra from some side jobs like teaching, tutoring and marking essays.
      It’s enough that I can put money away in savings every month, and I have enough leftover to do fun things on the weekend. Hopefully once I finish, I will start on a career path that will have me earning a lot more within 5-10 years so I can start raising a family!

    • Photo: David McGonigle

      David McGonigle answered on 21 Feb 2024:

      I think we can only answer that in comparison to other careers: and it’s very different for different scientists, depending on how ‘in demand’ their skills are outside of science. To give you an example: a friend of mine with a background in computer science started to run my institute’s IT. For analysing brain data, you need really powerful computers with lots of memory, so the job involves a lot more than just saying ‘have you tried turning it on and off again?!’. They eventually left because of long hours and job offers of up to 50% more than their current salary.

      It can be hard to keep good people in science when there is almost always another way to take your skills and work less hours and make more money doing it. Me, though: I’ve a ‘lifer’. I couldn’t imagine not working as a scientist…

    • Photo: Zoe Vance

      Zoe Vance answered on 21 Feb 2024:

      I get paid enough to be comfortable and not have to constantly worry about money. I think my take home pay each month is currently about £2500/£2600? Which is plenty because my partner earns something similar, we don’t have kids yet and Edinburgh isn’t the *most* expensive place I’ve lived. But getting paid ‘well’ probably depends on your circumstances. I also earned a lot less during my PhD (€1500 a month, around £1300) which was a real struggle, particularly because I was living in Dublin and the rents are very high there. So I think if you’re considering salaries for a given job it’s important to take into account that they may be a good bit lower while you’re building experience and also where you might have to live for that job and what kind of expenses you expect to have.

    • Photo: Paul Laurance-Young

      Paul Laurance-Young answered on 21 Feb 2024:

      That depends on what you do and how well you do it. Computer scientists can earn an absolute mint but biologists tend to be on the lower scale (there are lots of us!). The average scientist gets around £47,000 a year according to Totaljobs..

    • Photo: Alexander De Bruin

      Alexander De Bruin answered on 26 Feb 2024:

      I’m paid enough to be comfortable, though it very much depends on the job, the role that you end up doing, and your level of experience. Science isn’t as well paid as e.g. banking, but it’s enough to live comfortably.

    • Photo: Michael Schubert

      Michael Schubert answered on 26 Feb 2024:

      Science careers have a whole range of salaries, from low-paid student positions all the way up to high-level industry experts who make hundreds of thousands! My salary isn’t the highest, but it’s enough for me and I like the other parts of my job so much that I don’t mind as long as I have enough.

    • Photo: Kevin Burke

      Kevin Burke answered on 26 Feb 2024:

      Yes – comparable to other professions, and more sometimes (£80,000/year) – but remember ‘money isn’t everything’. You really have to enjoy your job firstly, the projects you get involved in, the people you work with, the fun you have. These are all much more important to how much you get paid (although a comfortable salary makes life much easier).