Highest-paying jobs in the sciences
Pursuing a scientific career requires a rigorous education, an investigative mind, and a relentless drive to seek out answers to many of society's greatest challenges. From environmental science and biochemistry to mechanics and nuclear physics, this vast field accounts for much of how we understand our bodies, minds, and world.
A career in the life sciences involves studying living organisms in fields such as biochemistry or zoology; while physical sciences explore non-living matter in fields such as astronomy or chemistry.
Most science careers involve years of training, but not all offer the same financial rewards. Stacker has compiled some of the top-paying jobs in the sciences using the most recent comprehensive data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), updated as of May 2017. The information was collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and includes physical and social sciences. These occupations are ordered by annual mean wage.
Check out this slideshow to learn how much scientific workers are making in various careers that affect many everyday aspects of our lives.
#57. Forest and Conservation Technicians
Annual mean wage: $39,180
Mean hourly wage: $18.84
Median hourly wage: $17.37
Employment: 30,570 people
With the total number of wildfires and surface area of their destruction growing in recent years, society increasingly looks to forest and conservation technicians to mitigate and prevent disaster. Technicians monitor the activities of workers, inspect soil, water quality, and plant life, and work in a laboratory or the field. While BLS predicted a 6% drop in employment for these technicians, a spike in wood demand and need for fire protection may instead cause an employment surge.
#56. Agricultural and Food Science Technicians
Annual mean wage: $42,910
Mean hourly wage: $20.63
Median hourly wage: $19.19
Employment: 21,120 people
Agricultural and food science technicians play major roles in our most basic necessity: food. Technicians research the production, processing, and packaging of food. This work may include assisting with animal breeding and nutrition, conducting experiments to improve the quality of crops, or helping plants and animals to increase their resistance to diseases, insects, and the pesticides meant to combat them. With an increasing population and demand for food safety, the job demand for food scientists is expected to slowly rise.
#55. Biological Technicians
Annual mean wage: $47,410
Mean hourly wage: $22.79
Median hourly wage: $21.06
Employment: 74,980 people
No biological or medical laboratory is complete without the many biological technicians who run them. The job description generally includes conducting experiments and research, monitoring and observing experiments, analyzing data, and writing reports. What these technicians will get paid is largely dependent on the length of their tenure and their expertise.
#54. Social Science Research Assistants
Annual mean wage: $49,030
Mean hourly wage: $23.57
Median hourly wage: $22.12
Employment: 31,500 people
Research assistants in the social sciences usually work in academic institutions, government agencies, or non-profit organizations in fields such as political science or sociology. These assistants report on and analyze experiments, surveys, and other forms of research. These workers are generally paid less than sociologists, who may have advanced degrees and work with more in-depth data.
#53. Miscellaneous Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians
Annual mean wage: $49,270
Mean hourly wage: $23.69
Median hourly wage: $21.97
Employment: 145,360 people
Many science gigs don't exactly fit the mold of what we consider traditional science. These workers may have jobs in other industries entirely, including utilities, transportation, and construction. Utility workers are often paid higher salaries than people working in the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services.
#52. Environmental Science and Protection Technicians (Including Health)
Annual mean wage: $49,310
Mean hourly wage: $23.71
Median hourly wage: $21.87
Employment: 32,840 people
Environmental scientists and protection technicians help to protect the public from pollution and contamination. These scientists study samples derived from both field and lab work. This sector is expected to grow by 12% from 2016 to 2026.
#51. Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians
Annual mean wage: $49,970
Mean hourly wage: $24.02
Median hourly wage: $22.01
Employment: 359,180 people
Life, physical, and social science technicians encapsulate a wide range of occupations in various fields. This comprehensive category includes biomedical researchers, psychologists, and energy-management workers.
#50. Chemical Technicians
Annual mean wage: $51,010
Mean hourly wage: $24.52
Median hourly wage: $22.73
Employment: 64,550 people
Chemical technicians provide support to chemists and chemical engineers, utilizing special instruments and techniques for research and testing. The field is seeing job growth, too—a 4% climb is expected from 2016 to 2026.
#49. All Other Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians
Annual mean wage: $51,160
Mean hourly wage: $24.60
Median hourly wage: $23.12
Employment: 66,890 people
Other occupations falling under the umbrella of life, physical, and social science technicians include assistant oceanographers, biomedical instrument technicians, and city planning aides. Some often-overlooked fields in the many different sciences include urban planning, data, and construction.
#48. Survey Researchers
Annual mean wage: $60,700
Mean hourly wage: $29.18
Median hourly wage: $26.09
Employment: 11,270 people
The role of market and survey researchers involves gathering data and information from the public. These studies can focus on employment and income or opinions on virtually anything relevant to society. Generally, those who enter this field need a master's degree.2018 All rights reserved.