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Highest-paying jobs in the sciences

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AstroStar // Shutterstock

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.

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NRCS Oregon // Flickr

#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.

 

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IAEA Imagebank // Flickr

#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.

 

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Senior Airman Zachary Hada // USAF

#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.

 

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade // Flickr

#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.

 

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Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Johnie Hickmon // Wikimedia Commons

#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.

 

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USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency // Flickr

#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.

 

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Tech Sgt. Christopher Carwile // U.S. Air Force

#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.

 

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Ecole polytechnique // Flickr

#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.

 

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USFWS Midwest Region // Flickr

#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.

 

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Master Sgt. Kimberly A. Yearyean-Siers // U.S. Air Force

#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.

 

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement // Flickr

#47. Forensic Science Technicians

Annual mean wage: $61,220

Mean hourly wage: $29.43

Median hourly wage: $27.81

Employment: 15,070 people

While certainly less glamorous than something one would see on an episode of “CSI,” forensic science technicians do play an important role in criminology and crime investigations. These technicians study and analyze evidence from crime scenes to help police departments with investigations. This field extremely small and therefore quite competitive.

 

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Bureau of Land Management

#46. Foresters

Annual mean wage: $61,710

Mean hourly wage: $29.67

Median hourly wage: $28.90

Employment: 8,300 people

As implied by the name, a forester practices the art and science of forest management (otherwise known as forestry.) Foresters are responsible for conserving, protecting, and restoring woodlands. Anyone interested in this field would be wise to first pursue a bachelor's degree in forestry or something related—those without a degree and still looking at the field will likely earn a lower salary.

 

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Energy.gov // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Geological and Petroleum Technicians

Annual mean wage: $63,450

Mean hourly wage: $30.50

Median hourly wage: $26.05

Employment: 14,820 people

Described as the “backbone of the petroleum industry,"geological and petroleum technicians are generally on the front lines collecting and analyzing samples for research. These workers are often tasked with extracting and exploring natural resources such as crude oil, minerals, and natural gas. Aspiring technicians will likely need an associate's degree in applied sciences, along with a year or two of on-the-job training.

 

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Joan Elias // National Parks Service

#44. Conservation Scientists and Foresters

Annual mean wage: $63,990

Mean hourly wage: $30.76

Median hourly wage: $29.31

Employment: 30,340 people

Along with foresters, conservation scientists are involved with the management of forests and woodlands. These conservation scientists work with governments and private companies to ensure natural habitats are protected and land management complies with regulations. Conservation scientists should have a bachelor's degree in forestry, however, they are not required to be licensed.

 

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Brian Brackens // U.S. Air Force

#43. Historians

Annual mean wage: $64,220

Mean hourly wage: $30.88

Median hourly wage: $28.42

Employment: 3,060 people

We count on historians to conserve, analyze, and interpret past events and records. Research may involve the study of historial documents, personal correspondence, historical newspapers, government records, and various other types of archives. With history being a popular college degree, the number of applicants for related jobs will likely be much higher than the jobs available.

 

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U.S. Department of Agriculture

#42. Conservation Scientists

Annual mean wage: $64,850

Mean hourly wage: $31.18

Median hourly wage: $29.56

Employment: 22,040 people

It's up to conservation scientists to make sure natural resources provided by parks, forests, and other woodlands are used to their full potential. From conducting soil surveys to collaborating with farmers and ranchers, conservation scientists have a wide range of responsibilities. Aspiring conservation scientists can enter the field with a degree in forestry, urban forestry, environmental science, rangeland management, agricultural science, or even ecosystem management.

 

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U.S. Forest Service

#41. Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Annual mean wage: $66,250

Mean hourly wage: $31.85

Median hourly wage: $29.95

Employment: 17,710 people

Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals, wildlife, and various ecosystems. Zoologists conduct in-depth examinations of the behavior, origins, and life processes of wildlife populations in a certain habitat. A bachelor's degree would certainly help any aspiring wildlife biologists find entry-level positions, but a Ph.D. or master's is recommended for anyone interested in pursuing independent research.

 

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Muhammad Zahir // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Anthropologists and Archeologists

Annual mean wage: $66,330

Mean hourly wage: $31.89

Median hourly wage: $29.94

Employment: 6,120 people

Anthropologists and archaeologists study the origin, development, and behavior of human beings by conducting intensive research and fieldwork. These careers call for the thorough observation and analysis of cultures, languages, physical characteristics of humans, and archeological remains and areas. A master's degree or Ph.D. in either of these fields are a requirement.

 

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California Department of Fish and Wildlife // Flickr

#39. Animal Scientists

Annual mean wage: $68,840

Mean hourly wage: $33.10

Median hourly wage: $29.21

Employment: 2,550 people

While zoologists observe the behaviors of animals, animal scientists focus more on animal nutrition and the overall quality and quantity of farm animals. These professionals then communicate their findings to scientists, food producers, and the public. Working as an animal scientist for management and consulting companies or the federal government pays more than working for academic institutions or state governments.

 

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Soil Science // Flickr

#38. Soil and Plant Scientists

Annual mean wage: $69,170

Mean hourly wage: $33.26

Median hourly wage: $30.01

Employment: 14,180 people

Soil and plant scientists research and study the quality and composition of soils used for crop growth. These researchers look into the physiology, production, and overall management of crops and other agricultural plants while investigating potential alternative practices in soil and crop productivity. Soil and plant scientists working for the federal government make higher salaries than those working in academia.

 

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CLS Research Office // Flickr

#37. Agricultural and Food Scientists

Annual mean wage: $70,480

Mean hourly wage: $33.88

Median hourly wage: $30.25

Employment: 31,750 people

Agricultural and food scientists ensure the safety of agricultural establishments and conduct research and experiments to improve the quality of crops. Different kinds of sciences are involved in this field, including chemistry for food science and biology for studies of livestock. Advanced work in the field requires degrees in genetics, animal reproduction, biotechnology, or other related fields.

 

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration // Flickr

#36. Food Scientists and Technologists

Annual mean wage: $71,990

Mean hourly wage: $34.61

Median hourly wage: $30.60

Employment: 15,020 people

Food safety is an ever-growing concern, providing job security to thousands of food scientists and technologists. These workers depend on physics, chemistry, microbiology, biotechnology, and engineering to come up with innovative methods for food packaging, preservation, and delivery. A large number of these scientists work for colleges and universities, while others work in food and pharmaceutical companies.

 

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Knight Foundation // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Urban and Regional Planners

Annual mean wage: $74,350

Mean hourly wage: $35.75

Median hourly wage: $34.37

Employment: 35,310 people

Urban and regional planners plan and coordinate land use in order to accommodate growing populations and revitalize existing physical facilities. This occupation involves more community engagement than most other science jobs, as many planners interface with committees or neighborhood and community groups. As populations grow, so too will the need for urban planners.

 

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Pacific Southwest Region USFWS // Flickr

#34. Environmental Scientists and Specialists (Including Health)

Annual mean wage: $76,220

Mean hourly wage: $36.64

Median hourly wage: $33.37

Employment: 81,920 people

Environmental scientists and specialists conduct research and studies in order to identify hazards, pollutants, and other risks to the environment. Armed with this information, these experts form and enact strategies to stymie environmental threats.

 

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James Gathany/CDC // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Epidemiologists

Annual mean wage: $76,230

Mean hourly wage: $36.65

Median hourly wage: $33.49

Employment: 6,870 people

Epidemiologists study the control of disease and other health-related patterns in society. These scientists use their research and findings to help reduce the risk of disease and other health threats. This career in public health requires a master's degree.

 

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Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington // Flickr

#32. Geographers

Annual mean wage: $76,790

Mean hourly wage: $36.92

Median hourly wage: $36.95

Employment: 1,400 people

Maps and globes were made possible by the hypotheses of early geographers, but today the field is more comprehensive. Geographers study the overall spatial elements of Earth, as well as its climate, vegetation, and landforms. The field is considered the bridge between social and natural sciences. Given the comprehensiveness and the various sub-fields of geography, geographers who work for the federal government are generally paid the most.

 

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Sukulya // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Microbiologists

Annual mean wage: $78,400

Mean hourly wage: $37.69

Median hourly wage: $33.64

Employment: 21,870 people

Microbiologists study microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and parasites in order to find out how they interact with different environments. Advances in technology have made it possible to study these organisms in new, more comprehensive ways. The field of microbiology is growing, albeit more slowly than other jobs in the sciences.

 

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission // Flickr

#30. Nuclear Technicians

Annual mean wage: $80,000

Mean hourly wage: $38.46

Median hourly wage: $38.64

Employment: 6,850 people

Nuclear technicians are trained to cooperate with physicists, engineers, and other scientists involved in nuclear research to monitor radiation levels produced from such work. Given the sensitive and sometimes unsafe nature of their work, radiation technicians go through extensive on-the-job training after receiving associate degrees in nuclear science.

 

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Gary Peeples/USFWS // Wikimedia Commons

#29. All Other Biological Scientists

Annual mean wage: $80,200

Mean hourly wage: $38.56

Median hourly wage: $36.87

Employment: 37,590 people

Biological scientists work in a variety of fields, including botany, aquatic biology, and ecology. A grasp of many fundamental scientific fields including biology, physics, and chemistry, will help when seeking entry into any of these occupations. Job growth depends largely on the field—and which projects are funded by the federal government.

 

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Lance Cpl. Walter D. Marino II // U.S. Marines

#28. Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists

Annual mean wage: $81,330

Mean hourly wage: $39.10

Median hourly wage: $36.10

Employment: 108,060 people

Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists play critical roles in aiding the development of young minds. These workers help children and young adults with cognitive and behavioral needs. This work may entail forms of therapy or other programs. The job growth for school psychologists is growing at a rate faster than average.

 

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U.S. Army RDECOM // Flickr

#27. Chemists

Annual mean wage: $81,870

Mean hourly wage: $39.36

Median hourly wage: $35.94

Employment: 84,400 people

Chemists search for new ways chemicals can improve lifestyles, with findings applicable to organic, inorganic, physical, medical, and material uses. For most jobs in the field, a master's degree is required. The more advanced the degree, the better the job prospects.

 

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

#26. All Other Life Scientists

Annual mean wage: $82,270

Mean hourly wage: $39.55

Median hourly wage: $35.84

Employment: 7,120 people

Some of the more well-known life sciences can be further divided into other branches. For example, biology itself includes evolutionary biology, molecular biology, quantum biology, systems biology, and other specific and interdisciplinary fields. Though scientists in fields may inhabit a more specific realm of knowledge, their work ultimately contributes to the well-being of society.

 

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Kendl123 // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Psychologists

Annual mean wage: $82,770

Mean hourly wage: $39.79

Median hourly wage: $37.03

Employment: 121,870 people

Psychologists study emotional behavior through the lens of research or by directly interfacing with people. Using data and observations, psychologists can interpret certain patterns and processes. Psychologists are often required to have a medical degree in psychology and license.

 

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U.S. Department of Defense

#24. Social Scientists and Related Workers

Annual mean wage: $83,110

Mean hourly wage: $39.96

Median hourly wage: $37.01

Employment: 243,150 people

Many social scientists work in occupations that require community interaction. These jobs include consultants, managers, supervisors, organizers, or counselors.

 

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National Park Service

#23. All Other Social Scientists and Related Workers

Annual mean wage: $83,230

Mean hourly wage: $40.01

Median hourly wage: $38.16

Employment: 35,490 people

Social scientists also include transportation planners who often work with urban and regional planners. With so many of these roles filled throughout various communities, the growth for this field is about average.

 

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Master Sgt. Michael Voss // U.S. Air Force

#22. Miscellaneous Social Scientists and Related Workers

Annual mean wage: $83,450

Mean hourly wage: $40.12

Median hourly wage: $37.83

Employment: 52,380 people

Economists, researchers, and political scientists are just a few of many varied social scientist occupations. The bulk of these workers are clinical and school psychologists; while a smaller proportion of this group is comprised of people working in industrial and organizational psychology.

 

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John Harrington // U.S. Air Force

#21. Chemists and Materials Scientists

Annual mean wage: $83,500

Mean hourly wage: $40.14

Median hourly wage: $36.67

Employment: 91,880 people

Because of the work of chemists and material scientists, manufacturers and other workers are able to determine how to create improved products. These scientists study substances at a deeper, atomic and molecular level. Growth in this field is expected to be slower than other scientific occupations.

 

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National Park Service

#20. Environmental Scientists and Geoscientists

Annual mean wage: $83,890

Mean hourly wage: $40.33

Median hourly wage: $35.51

Employment: 116,790 people

Environmental scientists are tasked with identifying hazards—namely pollutants—that threaten the environment and health of wildlife and humans. A bachelor's degree in biology and environmental science can forge a path to this career, but a master's degree will help to advance any career in the field—not to mention the various certifications required for any sort of waste management.

 

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Airman 1st Class Christopher Thornbury // U.S. Air Force

#19. Biological Scientists

Annual mean wage: $84,060

Mean hourly wage: $40.41

Median hourly wage: $36.04

Employment: 104,550 people

Biological scientists study everything from the largest plants and animals to the smallest microscopic organisms. To be truly considered an expert in one's field, earning a master's or doctoral degree is a must. Growth for these occupations largely depends on the size of a biologist's specific field of study.

 

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U.S. Geological Survey // Flickr

#18. Hydrologists

Annual mean wage: $84,290

Mean hourly wage: $40.53

Median hourly wage: $38.46

Employment: 6,350 people

It is a hydrologist's job to research and track the distribution and circulation of underground and surface water. This information can help environmental scientists preserve or clean up the environment and ecosystems. The job outlook for hydrologists is quite good—and in terms of entry, students can pursue degrees in a range of topics including hydrology, geoscience, environmental science, or engineering with a concentration in hydrology or water sciences.

 

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U.S. Air Force

#17. Life Scientists

Annual mean wage: $84,860

Mean hourly wage: $40.80

Median hourly wage: $35.43

Employment: 292,310 people

The life sciences encompass a number of different fields that include food science, zoology, and microbiology. Most of these occupations require at least a bachelor's degree to gain entry. Growth and salaries will naturally be higher in larger states.

 

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Maj. Jimmy Do // U.S. Air Force

#16. Sociologists

Annual mean wage: $86,130

Mean hourly wage: $41.41

Median hourly wage: $38.29

Employment: 2,770 people

While psychologists study the behavior of individuals, sociologists focus on group behavior in order to better understand cultures, organizations, and various social institutions. Sociology is a popular field with little growth; as such, the job market is particularly small and tough to get into.

 

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Eddie Green // U.S. Air Force

#15. Physical Scientists

Annual mean wage: $88,470

Mean hourly wage: $42.53

Median hourly wage: $37.88

Employment: 253,660 people

Unlike the biological sciences, the physical sciences involve the study of non-living organisms. These fields include chemistry, astronomy, and geology. Astronomers and physicists have the highest annual salaries in this field—much higher than social scientists.

 

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Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen // U.S. Air Force

#14. All Other Psychologists

Annual mean wage: $93,440

Mean hourly wage: $44.92

Median hourly wage: $46.99

Employment: 12,880 people

It's difficult to include all the various kinds of psychologists of in one catch-all category. These professions include cognitive psychologists, community psychologists, consumer psychologists, and personality psychologists.

 

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U.S. Coast Guard

#13. Atmospheric and Space Scientists

Annual mean wage: $93,710

Mean hourly wage: $45.05

Median hourly wage: $44.27

Employment: 8,940 people

Atmospheric scientists use meteorological data to investigate atmospheric phenomena. To gather this data, these scientists employ the use of satellites, air stations, and radar. Demand for these scientists is on the rise, with job growth occurring at a rate faster than average.

 

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Yakuzakorat // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Medical Scientists

Annual mean wage: $94,920

Mean hourly wage: $45.64

Median hourly wage: $38.93

Employment: 118,560 people

Medical scientists are tasked with researching diseases and their causes, as well as avenues for preventing and curing these diseases. Findings and breakthroughs by medical scientists, in turn, help to advance the work of doctors. A Ph.D. in biology or medical degree is required for entry into this difficult field.

 

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Pixabay

#11. Medical Scientists (Except Epidemiologists)

Annual mean wage: $96,070

Mean hourly wage: $46.19

Median hourly wage: $39.46

Employment: 111,690 people

Physicians, dentists, and other public health officials are included under the umbrella of medical scientists. Most of these professionals engage in some form of clinical research and development. As one can expect, delving into this career path necessitates years of preparation and graduate school.

 

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NTNU, Faculty of Natural Science // Flickr

#10. Materials Scientists

Annual mean wage: $101,910

Mean hourly wage: $48.99

Median hourly wage: $47.85

Employment: 7,470 people

Material scientists have the knowledge and means to analyze the chemical structures of man-made and natural materials. This research educates manufacturers and other creators as they develop new products. The materials scientist field includes polymer scientists, glass scientists, and ceramic scientists.

 

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Margo Wright // U.S. Air Force

#9. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

Annual mean wage: $102,530

Mean hourly wage: $49.29

Median hourly wage: $41.87

Employment: 920 people

Abbreviated to I/O psychology, industrial-organizational psychology is a study that involves the utilization of psychological principles in the workplace. With these studies and findings, quality of life improvements in every day life in the workplace can improve. Work in this field will usually require some sort of certification; many I/O psychologists work as consultants.

 

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U.S. Departent of Energy // Flickr

#8. Biochemists and Biophysicists

Annual mean wage: $105,410

Mean hourly wage: $50.68

Median hourly wage: $43.84

Employment: 27,380 people

Working with the building blocks of living matter is a monumental task upon which biochemists and biophysicists daily embark. As one could guess, biochemists observe the chemical compositions of organisms while biophysicists study the physical principles of those organisms. Working in the field requires a degree in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, or physics; but anyone looking to conduct independent research will need a master's degree.

 

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National Park Service

#7. Geoscientists (Except Hydrologists and Geographers)

Annual mean wage: $105,830

Mean hourly wage: $50.88

Median hourly wage: $43.20

Employment: 28,520 people

Geoscientists assist environmental scientists in cleaning up the environment by observing and searching for natural resources, including groundwater, metal, and petroleum. It is the geoscientist's duty to study the composition, structure, and potential utility of these resources. Those looking to enter the field will need a bachelor's degree in geology or related fields at the very least, with a Ph.D. required for research or teaching.

 

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Senior Airman Greg Nash // U.S. Air Force

#6. All Other Physical Scientists

Annual mean wage: $107,180

Mean hourly wage: $51.53

Median hourly wage: $49.99

Employment: 17,320 people

The most prominent branches of the physical sciences include physics, astronomy, chemistry, and earth science, with fields as far-reaching as mathematical physics and planetary science.

 

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Linda LaBonte Britt // U.S. Air Force

#5. Astronomers

Annual mean wage: $109,560

Mean hourly wage: $52.67

Median hourly wage: $48.36

Employment: 2,020 people

One of the oldest fields in the sciences is astronomy, which focuses on the study of space and the matter inhabiting it. Research by astronomers involves theoretical and practical experiments and observations. As research is a large part of the field, physics, chemistry, and programming skills are essentials for anyone looking to pursue astronomy as a career.

 

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US Embassy Canada // Flickr

#4. Political Scientists

Annual mean wage: $112,030

Mean hourly wage: $53.86

Median hourly wage: $55.34

Employment: 6,320 people

This type of science involves the study of how political systems operate. Political scientists will study public opinion, decision-making, ideology, and how various political entities are structured. Competition for jobs in the field is quite high, with relatively slow growth even though politics are at the forefront of virtually every recent news story.

 

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U.S. State Department

#3. Economists

Annual mean wage: $112,650

Mean hourly wage: $54.16

Median hourly wage: $49.27

Employment: 19,550 people

The research that economists conduct focuses on the production and distribution of goods and services and on changes to fiscal policies over time. Economists' output comes in the form of reports and recommended courses of action for alleviating current or foreseeable economic problems. Most in this field will carry a doctoral degree.

 

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Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma // U.S. Air Force

#2. Astronomers and Physicists

Annual mean wage: $121,620

Mean hourly wage: $58.47

Median hourly wage: $56.36

Employment: 18,720 people

Being a physicist and an astronomer can go hand in hand, as both involve the study of matter. Studies inform how forms of energy and matter interact with each other, using complicated equipment such as electron microscopes and particle accelerators. Pay is very high for these fields; job growth is projected at 14% from 2016 to 2026.

 

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Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys // U.S. Air Force

#1. Physicists

Annual mean wage: $123,080

Mean hourly wage: $59.17

Median hourly wage: $57.13

Employment: 16,710 people

A degree in physics can be the gateway to a litany of diverse jobs. Physics is a wide field that touches upon basically every aspect of matter and energy, and anyone who studies it will likely be an attractive candidate for a variety of occupations. As such, scientists working in physics and in related disciplines are reported to be largely satisfied with their job and well-compensated.



 

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