Aerospace physiology is the field of medical science dedicated to the research and understanding of the physiological effects of flight on humans. These medical science professionals conduct research, train aviators, and conceptualize and build life support systems for use in flight. Aerospace physiologists are found in a wide array of industry, from academia, the military, private industry and federal agencies.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, aerospace physiologists earn between $79,566 and $123,366 annually, This figure breaks down to an hourly wage of between $38.25 and $59.31 per hour, before deductions for taxes and benefits. These figures are echoed by 2008 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which indicate the annual wages of medical scientists, excluding epidemiologists, between $72,590 and $134,770 annually. These figures translate to a pre-deduction hourly rate of between $34.90 and $64.79 in the parameters of a 40-hour work week.
Factors Affecting Salary
The major factors effecting the wages of aerospace physiologists is the nature of the industry they're employed in. While the military and government agencies tend to offer salaries in and around the national mean average, opportunities and salary levels increase for physiologists with higher levels of education in the private aerospace sector. Physiologists with expanded specialized experience can also count on a higher wage rate than those just beginning their careers in the industry.
Salary By State
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that medical scientists (except for epidemiologists) earn the highest annual mean wage in Pennsylvania. That state's annual mean wage for the profession as of May 2010 was $99,600, or $47.88 annually before deductions. North Carolina ranked second with an annual mean wage of $91,740, or $44.11 hourly before taxes and benefits. States with the lowest reported earnings in this profession include Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Relevant Background & Skills
The Aerospace Physiology Society states that while opportunities exist in the field for physiologists with bachelor's degrees, a master's level educational background in physiology is usually desired. Successful completion of coursework in biochemistry, aviation science and cytology is also desired. Due to the immersion in data analysis, results interpretation and documentation, impeccable organizational skills are also required in the profession. A sound knowledge of the technical aspects of human flight or professional experience in the aviation industry is also highly sought after.