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By Meredith W. Salisbury

It’s been said that even in institutions with strict rules against discussing salaries with coworkers, everyone knows what everyone else makes anyway. Still, finding out about your peers’ earnings when they let something slip in a gathering at the water cooler is hardly a scientific way to find out where you fall on the salary spectrum. Boiling it down to the barest question: are you undervalued?

In April, Genome Technology set up its second annual salary survey in an attempt to help you answer that question. Readers came in droves to the survey website to report how much they’re paid, what else is part of their compensation package, and whether their organization has had layoffs lately. The magazine invited some 9,000 people to fill out our questionnaire, and 1,180 of them responded.

That data has been churned, analyzed, and sorted to give you the charts and information filling the next several pages. You’ll find salary by organization and job title as well as by years in research, bonuses by job description, data on raises and layoffs, and year-over-year pay information. You’ll also see gems scattered throughout, such as what proportion of our academic respondents are tenured, and what most people receive in return for filing a patent. For that and more, read on.

Median Salaries by Title and Organization

TITLE MEDIAN SALARY 2004 MEDIAN SALARY 2003
Small pharma/biotech (

Chairman, president, CEO

$200,000-$299,999 $175,000-$199,999

CTO, COO, CSO, CFO

$125,000-$149,999 $200,000-$299,999

VP, director, senior manager

$100,000-$124,999 $100,000-$124,999

Senior scientist, senior researcher, senior technologist

$75,000-$99,999 $75,000-$99,999

Staff scientist, researcher, programmer

$50,000-$74,999 $50,000-$74,999

Lab technician, technical specialist

$30,000-$49,999 $50,000-$74,999

Midsize pharma/biotech (500-5,000 employees)

VP, director, senior manager $125,000-$149,999 $100,000-$124,999

Senior scientist, senior researcher, senior technologist

$75,000-$99,999 $75,000-$99,999
Staff scientist, researcher, programmer $50,000-$74,999 $75,000-$99,999
Lab technician, technical specialist $50,000-$74,999 N/A

Large pharma/biotech (>5,000 employees)

VP, director, senior manager $150,000-$174,999 $150,000-$174,999
Senior scientist, senior researcher, senior technologist $75,000-$99,999 $100,000-$124,999
Staff scientist, researcher, programmer $75,000-$99,999 $75,000-$99,999
Lab technician, technical specialist $50,000-$74,999 $50,000-$74,999

University/Academic life sciences institute

Dean, VP, director, senior manager

$125,000-$149,999 NA

Professor or principal investigator

$100,000-$124,999 $75,000-$99,999

Associate or assistant professor

$50,000-$74,999 $75,000-$99,999

Core lab manager

$50,000-$74,999 $50,000-$74,999

Senior scientist, senior researcher, senior technologist

$75,000-$99,999 $50,000-$74,999

Staff scientist, researcher, programmer

$50,000-$74,999 $30,000-$49,999

Lab technician, technical specialist

$30,000-$49,999 NA

Fellow or postdoc

$30,000-$49,999 $30,000-$49,999

Government agency

VP, director, senior manager $100,000-$124,999 NA

Professor or principal investigator

$100,000-$124,999 NA

Senior scientist, senior researcher, senior technologist

$75,000-$99,999 $75,000-$99,999

Staff scientist, researcher, programmer

$50,000-$74,999 $50,000-$74,999

Core lab manager

$75,000-$99,999 NA

Lab technician, technical specialist

$50,000-$74,999 NA

Fellow or postdoc

$50,000-$74,999 NA

The majority of respondents get nothing when they file a patent, but 10% of respondents get to retain ownership of their patents

Respondents at government agencies had been in their jobs longest.

Median time was 4-7 years, compared to a median of 1-4 years for all other types of organizations.

The most common benefit was medical/dental insurance,

but that only applied to 52% of respondents

Traveling Assets

By percentage of respondents in each organization who have a travel budget, and the median amount they receive

Computing/informatics company
55% Have Travel Expense Accounts $1,500-$1,999

Pharmaceutical or biotechnology company
58% Have Travel Expense Accounts $2,000-$2,999

Government agency
69% Have Travel Expense Accounts $2,000-$2,999

University
53% Have Travel Expense Accounts $1,000-$1,499

Academic medical/life sciences institute
53% Have Travel Expense Accounts $2,000-$2,999

Top three reasons respondents left their last job:

1. To take another job elsewhere (36.7%)

2. Wanted to change career path (19%)

3. Postdoc/fellowship position ended (17.7%)

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