Salary range for a medicinal chemist

Written by karen farnen
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Salary range for a medicinal chemist
Many medicinal chemistry positions require a Ph.D. degree. (The chemist studies results of experiment image by Tatiana Belova from

A medicinal chemist applies the principles of chemistry to the medical field. Some work in labs doing basic research. Others work for pharmaceutical manufacturers formulating medications. Yet others work for the Food and Drug Administration or other branches of government in reviewing drug applications. A bachelor's degree in chemistry is a minimum qualification, but many medicinal chemists have graduate degrees. Salaries range, but most medicinal chemists earn more than £45,500 per year.

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Pharmaceutical chemist salaries and salary range

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2009 the average or mean wage of the 14,340 chemists in pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing comes to £22.00 per hour. This equals £45,960 per year for 40 hours of work over 52 weeks. The range for the 79,910 chemists in all industries varies from £25,280 at the 10th percentile to £74,670 at the 90th percentile, with an average of £47,280.

Other medicinal chemists

The BLS separates chemists by industry rather than function. In its 2009 report, it shows 5,680 chemists overall working for the federal executive branch, at an average hourly rate of £31.10 or a yearly pay of £66,360 on average. It also showed 14,700 chemists in scientific research and development. These chemists earn an average of £25.10 per hour or £53,850 per year. According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), many medicinal chemists work in these two industries.

Salary by educational level

The American Chemical Society makes an annual survey of chemists' salaries and provides a range of salaries by degree level. It bases its 2009 report on the 7,149 chemists who responded to their survey. The median salary of a chemist with a bachelor's degree comes to £43,355 annually. One with a master's degree earns a median of £52,650, and a chemist with a Ph.D. receives a median of £65,000. The median income of all chemists, regardless of degree, comes to £58,500 per year. Nearly 50 per cent of chemists responding also reported receiving a median bonus of £5,850.

Research chemists

The ACS also reports the salaries of chemists in two types of research. For basic research, they list only Ph.D. chemists, who earn a median income of £80,275 as of 2009. Chemists at various degree levels work in applied research, where chemists with a bachelor's degree earn a median income of £52,000. Those with a master's receive £59,540, and those with a Ph.D. have a median income of £71,500. None of these includes bonuses.

Job outlook

The BLS expects strong competition for positions as chemists between 2008 and 2018, with only 2 per cent growth in jobs. The pharmaceutical industry will provide many openings, but Ph.D. applicants will have the best chance at these and other research positions. Those with only a bachelor's degree may find jobs as research assistants, chemical technicians or secondary-school chemistry teachers.

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