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What Are the Highest-Paid Science Careers?

Updated April 17, 2017

If you were Jeffrey Kindler, CEO of Pfizer Inc., the multinational drug company, you received a compensation package valued by The Associated Press at £8.9 million in 2009. And that figure was down 7.6 per cent from 2008 because the Pfizer board reduced his stock awards, citing economic pressures. While most of us will not make it to the CEO level of the companies we work for, if you studied science in college, chances are you will be better paid throughout your career than those who did not. Careers based on the fundamentals of math, chemistry, physics and biology, such as architecture, engineering or biochemistry tend to pay more than careers in politics, high school teaching or social work.

Highest-Paid Career Paths

College Crunch.org examined 2008 U.S. Department of Labor data to determine 10 distinct career paths that paid the highest salaries. Of the top ten, science careers account for five places. The health-care career path tops the list, followed by aviation at fourth, architecture and engineering at fifth, physical sciences at sixth and computer and mathematical science at eighth. If you are at the top of your game in any of these fields, the monetary rewards are large. A surgeon can earn around £133,900 per year.

Highest-Paying College Degrees

PayScale.com examined undergraduate degrees and their associated salaries and discovered that eight of the top 10 degrees were in engineering, another was physics and, filling out the top ten, was economics. Petroleum engineers are the highest paid, with starting median pay close to £65,000 and mid-career pay over £104,000. Economics degrees, on the other hand, paid around £32,500 to start, and about £65,000 at mid-career.

Engineering Dominance

If you have a mind for math and science and enjoy solving problems, any kind of engineering degree pays well. According to PayScale, aerospace engineers have a mid-career median pay of £70,200, chemical engineers at £70,200 and electrical and nuclear engineers at £67,600.

Well-Paid Liberal Arts Degrees

If you are not especially science-minded, there are still career tracks that can result in well-paid positions. The mid-career median pay for those holding an economics degree is £63,570, a government degree pays £56,745 and film production pays £50,570.

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About the Author

Lisa Nielsen is a marketing consultant for small businesses and start-ups. As part of her consultancy, she writes advertising copy, newsletters, speeches, website content and marketing collateral for small and medium-sized businesses. She has been writing for more than 20 years. She is also a business strategist, trainer and executive coach. Nielsen holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Miami.