Ph.D. Salaries in Academia, Biotech & TechJun 20, 2023
The topic for the week is salaries in academia compared to biotech and tech industries.
In recent years, inflation has put a strain on affordability, and as academics, it is disheartening to witness the significant inflation of college tuition, fees, and textbooks. Since 2000, these costs have risen by approximately 160%, with only hospital services experiencing a higher rate of inflation, as shown in the chart below:
Given the inflation squeeze, a shrinking academic job market, and relatively stagnant salaries in academia, I have been receiving numerous inquiries about salary prospects in industry. Today, I will provide an overview of academic salaries compared to those in the biotech and tech industries, which are the two most popular sectors for individuals with PhDs.
Before presenting the data, it is important to note the following disclaimers:
The tech industry generally offers higher salaries compared to other industries.
This comparison may not be entirely equivalent due to various factors.
The analysis primarily focuses on the United States.
The salary data is self-reported from Levels.FYI and may not be comprehensive.
With that in mind, let’s jump in 👇
A common career path after completing a Ph.D. is pursuing postdoctoral positions. In 2022, the baseline stipend for new postdocs was $54,840, which increased from $53,760 in 2021. For postdocs with seven or more years of experience, the stipend rises to around $66,600. Reference: here.
For those who transition to professorial roles, salaries tend to increase with seniority. You can refer to the chart above for a breakdown of salaries from 2016-2021 for varying levels of professor salaries.
PhDs from various fields enter the biotech industry, bringing expertise in disciplines such as molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, pharmacology, immunology, and bioinformatics. Valuable skill sets for PhDs in biotech include strong research experience, technical expertise, communication and collaboration skills, problem-solving abilities, industry-specific knowledge, and adaptability. The specific requirements may vary based on job function, company, and subfield within biotech.
I did a deep dive on Life Science companies and roles in the Ultimate PhD Career Map before for those interested in a comprehensive deep dive. Today’s focus is on salaries and this chart represents a good analysis of various roles and compensations in the BioTech industry.
Together they collected over 3,700 data point from 90 biotech companies. The chart above is their compensation analysis.
The dynamic nature and the growth of the industry, make it an exciting and challenging place for PhDs to find fulfilling careers in Tech. Regarding salary prospects, the tech industry is known for offering competitive compensation packages. PhDs in technical roles can often command higher salaries compared to those with lower levels of education. However, salary levels can vary depending on factors such as the specific role, company size, location, industry segment, and individual experience and expertise.
One of the most popular resources for information on salaries in US Tech industry is Levels.FYI. They collect user-sourced data on salaries, benefits, leveling, and more. They’ve collected over 150,000 salary submissions this year – a data set that has helped tens of millions of professionals increase their own outcomes.
The following report examines data they've collected this past year. They also have deep dives into the top-paying companies and locations and you can find the full report here.
As you can see in the chart above, the medians generally decreased from the previous year in the United States, however, they reported variance in compensation for each title is still quite similarly wide if not wider this year. Overall, these compensations still remain one of the highest in any industry.
There are various post-PhD opportunities with a wide range of salaries to explore. In the end, the individual has to make the choice that’s best suited for their circustomsance sand preferences, and salaries are just one part of many other factors.
Planning post-PhD career can be daunting and I hope this report provides you with some insights into salaries in academia, biotech and tech industries as you do your planning.
Here is a summary for 10 roles:
That’s it for this week, see you next Tuesday!
P.S. I’m offering 1:1 coaching/resume review sessions. If you’re interested you can book here: https://calendly.com/phdtoindustry/60-min-with-aditya or email at: [email protected] to schedule
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