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Scientists, Salaries, and So Much More


By Meredith W. Salisbury


Back in the day, “compensation” and “salary” were often considered synonymous. Today, so much goes into building a compensation package that an employee’s salary is just one component. What do you get for a patented invention? Are you up for tenure? Will your employer offer — and contribute to — a 401(k)? Any salary survey worth its salt has to be able to give you information on these and many other aspects of compensation.

You’re looking at our answer to this. In the pages that follow, Genome Technology presents the data gathered from our third annual salary survey, an exclusive resource for our readers. In April, GT invited readers to fill out our survey, and response was our best yet: More than 1,400 readers took the time to provide their own information, enabling us to give everyone a snapshot of salary and other benefits for their peer groups.

Genome Technology sliced and diced the data to give you the most meaningful glimpse of compensation trends in this field. In addition to our list of year-by-year salaries by organization and job description, you’ll find median salaries by scientific task and by years of research experience, data on who expects to be promoted and who expects to look for a new job, raise information, as well as plenty of data tidbits scattered throughout to help give you a better sense of the market.

Respondent Demographics

Primary scientific background

Type of organization

Years in research

Type of region



Number of respondents: 1447



10.3% of respondents report that their last employer is out of business — a small increase over the 9% of respondents last year who reported the same thing


Invention perks:

More than half of respondents say they get nothing for their inventions, but more than 8% get ownership of the patent and nearly 15% receive royalties



Of the academics who responded, 16.2% are tenured


Benefit packages:

The most common benefits are:

1. Medical/dental insurance

2. Retirement plan, including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, pensions

3. Continuing education benefit


Big, bigger, biggest:

More than a quarter of respondents work for an organization with more than 10,000 employees


Movers and shakers:

11% of respondents said they expected to leave their organization for a new job within the next six months.

Another 12% expect to have a new employer in six months to one year.


The bad news:

2.6% of respondents were laid off in the prior year, and 3.6% saw their pay cut in that time.



The most common reasons respondents left their previous job:

1. Left to take another job elsewhere

2. Wanted to change career path

3. Postdoc/fellow position ended


Salary from grants:

66% of respondents say none of their salary comes from grants. But of the respondents whose salary is at least partly derived from grants, 64% report that at least half of their salary comes from grant funding


Career crossover 1

Of academics, more than 13% report having previously worked for a pharma/biotech


Career crossover 2

Of respondents who hail from government agencies, almost 45% say they previously worked in academia and more than 11% say they worked for a pharma/biotech


Diverse backgrounds:

Nearly 12% of respondents said their last job was not in life sciences, while close to 36% of respondents said their last job was in life sciences but in a different discipline from their current job


Travel expenses:

About 46% of respondents say they have no travel budget. Of the rest, the median travel budget reported was $2,000-$2,999

Median salary by scientific task

Based on what respondents say is the primary scientific or technical task of their day


Microarray analysis or gene expression

Structural biology

SNP analysis or genotyping

DNA sequencing



Biostatistics/data analysis

Computing infrastructure/applications development

Functional genomics/RNAi

Proteomics or protein analysis


Quality assurance/quality control

Years in Research


Years in research Median salary

1-3 years $30,000-$49,999

3-5 years $50,000-$74,999

5-7 years $50,000-$74,999

7-10 years $50,000-$74,999

10-15 years $75,000-$99,999

15-20 years $75,000-$99,999

More than 20 years $100,000-$124,999

Future plans

By scientific task, percentage of respondents who expect to leave their company or get a promotion in the next year:


by organization type and percentage of respondents



Time spent at current job

When was your last raise?


Respondents by Geographical Region


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