The average salary of a pharmaceutical scientist

A pharmaceutical scientist is a medical scientist who investigates how drugs work. She studies the biological responses to pharmaceuticals, synthesising data to develop the correct type of response and minimise side effects. Her work may extend from a molecular level to the conducting of trials on human volunteers. She may also be involved in the industrial production of drugs. Her salary can vary, depending upon certain elements of her employment situation.

Average Salary

In May 2009 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled occupational employment and wage data across all professions in America. It concluded that the mean annual salary for a medical scientist, including those who specialised in pharmaceuticals, was £55,094. This translates into a monthly salary of £4,590 and a pay rate per hour of £26.4. The 10 per cent of practitioners earning the lowest levels of pay received an average of £26,858, while the top-earning equivalent was £90,246.

Salary by Industry

Scientific research and development services employ the largest number of medical scientists in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the average salary listed for them -- £59,884 -- is not the highest for pharmaceutical scientists. Positions within federal government agencies and medical and diagnostic laboratories both pay higher average salaries -- £72,676 and £69,868 respectively. Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing was listed at a mean salary of £59,618, while general medical and surgical hospitals offered £49,738.

Salary by Geography

Geographical location is a second factor influencing the level of pay that a pharmaceutical scientist working in the United States receives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Vermont and New Jersey as offering the highest average levels -- £78,552 and £73,365. On the West coast California offered an average salary of £57,291, similar to that listed for Massachusetts -- £58,337. While South Dakota did not feature among the highest paying states, Sioux Falls within the state is listed as one of the metropolitan areas offering the best pay rates -- £112,625 -- followed by Lake County, Illinois at £80,892.


The demand for medical scientists such as pharmaceutical experts is expected to grow rapidly over forthcoming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a growth rate in the employment market for qualified practitioners of some 40 per cent in the decade between 2008 and 2018. The biotechnology industry -- which includes pharmaceutical manufacturers -- continues to grow rapidly, as does federal government-funded research. As a result, pharmaceutical scientists should continue to receive excellent salaries.

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About the Author

Dirk Huds has been a writer/editor for over six years. He has worked for bookshops and publishers in an editorial capacity and written book reviews for a variety of publications. He is currently studying for his master's degree.

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