The Best Paying Jobs in Science

Published: Dec 07, 2017

Science Money - Square [square]If you’re interested in pursuing a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), there’s a whole range of careers you could choose. A career in STEM will almost certainly require an undergraduate degree if not also a master’s or doctorate, which means a hefty time commitment, but after graduating you may be able to move into one of the best paying science jobs.

According to the 2017 Salary Survey from SRG (Science Recruitment Group), the average salary for a career in science in the UK is £38,170, significantly higher than the average UK salary of £27,600 (Office for National Statistics). On average, the highest paid sector is engineering, with the lowest average salary in the food / FMCG sector:

  • Engineering: £47,203
  • Pharmaceutical: £39,930
  • Chemicals: £39,027
  • Biotechnology: £38,850
  • Manufacturing: £34,960
  • Food / FMGC: £34,667

Many STEM fields, such as various branches of engineering, are expanding rapidly and so qualified STEM job seekers are in high demand. This gives STEM career paths the potential to be extremely lucrative. If you’re considering jobs after graduation in science, the following selection of 5 of the best paid jobs in science may help with your decision.

Best paid jobs in science:

Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers work on ways to effectively and efficiently extract oil and gas from beneath the earth’s surface. This role is well paid due to the high level of responsibility and of course the lucrative nature of the petroleum industry.

To pursue this career you will probably need a degree in an engineering subject, though degrees in other fields may be considered if relevant in some capacity.

Reed.co.uk suggests that experienced petroleum engineers can earn up to £95,000 per year in the UK.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics cites $128,230 per year as the median salary for petroleum engineers as of May 2016.

Actuary

Actuaries utilise their specialist knowledge of maths and economics to advise businesses and other organisations on the financial risks of investments and other endeavours. They help to predict and mitigate risks for their company / clients.

To become an actuary you need to join the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) as a student member, then study for professional exams while working as a trainee. To join the IFoA you’ll need a degree in maths or a related subject such as accounting or economics.

According to the UK National Careers Service website, experienced actuaries can potentially earn up to £70,000 a year.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics cites $100,610 per year as the median salary for actuaries as of May 2016.

Microbiologist

Microbiologists study the growth and development of microorganisms such as viruses, algae, fungi and bacteria. Many microbiologists work in research and development, in laboratories and offices.

Becoming a microbiologist requires a degree in biological science, ideally with a prominent focus on microbiology. Postgraduate study is typically required in order to move into independent research.

According to the UK National Careers Service website, experienced microbiologists can potentially earn up to £99,000 a year.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics cites $66,850 per year per year as the median salary for microbiologists as of May 2016.

Physicist

Physicists conduct research into the ways in which matter and energy interact - there are multiple subdivisions of physics such as thermodynamics, relativity and quantum mechanics. Research positions in topically relevant fields are likely to be more lucrative as funding is more readily available.

To pursue physics in a research / academic capacity you will likely wish to undertake postgraduate study. Some physicist careers may only require an undergraduate degree.

According to the UK National Careers Service website, experienced physicists can potentially earn up to £70,000 a year.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics cites $115,870 per year as the median salary for physicists as of May 2016.

Software Developer

Software developers work behind the scenes to design and code all manner of computer software such as operating systems, security software, video games etc. Software developers may also be referred to as software engineers and are typically divided into 2 categories, applications and systems.

A degree in computer science is the most likely requirement to pursue a career as a software developer, though other related degrees such as information technology may provide alternative routes.

According to the UK National Careers Service website, experienced software developers can potentially earn up to £70,000 a year.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics cites $102,280 per year as the median salary for software developers as of May 2016.

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