NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Salaries in the genomics field have fluctuated slightly in the past two years, according to a new GenomeWeb survey.
People working in industry, for instance, are taking home a bit more pay this year than they did in 2016, a median $100,000 in 2018 compared to $97,600 in 2016, while the pay for people working at academic medical centers or hospitals has held steady at $71,000 this year, as compared to $71,100 in 2016.
But, overall, it appears academics experienced a decline in salary, going from a median $68,700 in the 2016 survey to $58,231 in 2018. However, more graduate students completed the survey this year than in 2016 — the last year for which GenomeWeb has data — and reported earning a median $25,000 this year. When graduate students and postdocs are excluded from the analysis, that drop narrowed to about a $6,000 difference.
Other respondents, notably genetic counselors, reported the same median salaries this year as in 2016. Additionally, vice presidents, directors, or senior managers as well as program managers or product managers noted an uptick in pay.
To generate this data, GenomeWeb sent an email containing a link to an online survey to registered users of our website in August and September. The survey questions asked respondents about their employment, how long they have been at their job, and what their scientific training was in, as well as questions about their salary, benefits, and more. More than 900 people from academia, pharmaceutical companies, instrument developers, and elsewhere, and hailing from across the US and around the world, took part.
The workforce is in general marked by a glut of workers in the US. There are more life science PhDs than there are PhD-level positions, according to Hal Salzman, professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University. Recent estimates have indicated that less than 50 percent — and probably closer to 30 percent — of life science PhDs end up in a position that requires the degree. He noted that even in hot fields like genomics, the emergence of new startups can't make up the full difference.
Still, the vast majority of respondents to this year's survey said they were employed. Nearly 90 percent of PhD holders said they were employed full time, though about 9 percent noted they had a contract or temporary position.
Women who responded to the survey reported making a median $75,000, while men said they made a median $81,000. That, however, is a smaller gap than 2016's median $77,000 salary for women and $100,000 median salary for men. At the same time, male and female staff scientists, for instance, earn a respective $70,000 and $66,350, compared to a respective $75,00 and $71,500 in 2016. In addition, male and female senior scientists earn a median $80,000 and $72,7820, respectively, as compared to a respective $102,500 and $84,000 in 2016. At the vice president, director, or senior management level, though, women reported earning more than their male counterparts, a median $185,000 to men's $170,000.
Two-thirds of respondents are optimistic and expect a raise this year. In particular, three-quarters of workers at pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostics companies who participated in the survey think they will get a raise this year. Most, though, expect a modest bump in pay: 43 percent of those who expect a raise think it will be less than 3 percent. A third of respondents are less optimistic and do not think they will get any raise at all this year.
Additionally, most respondents said they expect to stay at their current jobs, at least for a little while. A little more than a third said they did not envision leaving their current job for another in the next several years and almost a quarter thought they would be staying put for another three to five years. However, about 6 percent of respondents already have a foot out the door and plan to leave within six months.
Number of respondents 942
Percentage respondents with PhD, DPhil, or PharmD: 38.9%
19.1% of academic respondents are tenured
20.6% of untenured academic respondents on the tenure track said they expect to get tenure within the next five years
9.0% of all respondents said that their last employer is no longer in business
0.3% of all respondents are unemployed
45.1% of all respondents said that they have been at their current job for between one year and four years
5.8% of all respondents said that they get ownership of patents for anything they invent
Most common benefits
Sick days/sick leave
Most common scientific tasks