Biologists who study life at the cellular and molecular level are often referred to as biochemists and biophysicists. These scientists perform experiments and make observations pertaining to the chemical and physical properties of life's building blocks, often with a focus on developing new types of medical treatments. Biochemists and biophysicists need a Ph.D. to direct independent research projects.
Average Pay and Pay Range
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, biochemists and biophysicists earned an average annual salary of $89,470 in 2012, and an average wage of $43.01 per hour. Half of biochemists and biophysicists reported salaries ranging between $55,360 and $112,200 a year. The highest-paid 10 percent of biochemists and biophysicists working in the United States reported high average salaries of $147,350 or more per year.
Pay by State
As of 2012, biophysicists and biochemists working in New Hampshire earned the highest average salary, $123,590 a year. Other high-paying states for this occupation included New Jersey at $117,780 a year, Massachusetts at $101,930 a year and Pennsylvania at $101,000 a year. Kentucky reported the very lowest average pay, $46,680 a year. The second-lowest pay in the country, $49,190, was reported in Louisiana.
Pay by Employer
As of 2012, biochemists and biophysicists employed by scientific consulting firms earned more than those working for any other types of employer, an average of $123,890 per year. Those employed by pharmaceutical wholesalers earned the second-highest pay by employment type, an average of $107,160. Research and development firms, who employed over half of all biochemists and biophysicists working in the United States, paid them an average of $92,150 per year. Pharmaceutical manufacturers paid an average of $87,910 to these professionals, while those employed by colleges reported a much lower average salary of $64,560 per year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the U.S. economy will add jobs at a rate of 14 percent between 2010 and 2020. By comparison, jobs for biophysicists and biochemists are expected to grow at over twice that rate, 31 percent. However, only about 25,100 biochemists and biophysicists were working in the United States as of 2010. This means that even a fast job growth rate of 31 percent will produce only about 7,700 new jobs by 2020. The bureau also warns aspiring biologists that very strong competition is expected for available jobs.