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The Question

(Submitted March 03, 1997)

About how much would an astrophysicist make in one year's time?

The Answer

Your question about an astrophysicist's salary is not easy to answer. There are many factors which determine a scientist's salary -- such as: do you work for an academic institution, private industry, or the government? how many year's ago did you obtain your Ph.D.? in the United States, what part of the country do you live in? All of these factors, and many more, will affect how much your annual salary is.

I can tell you this....every couple of years, there is a survey of scientists working in the United States who have obtained their Ph.D. within the previous two years. The salaries of these folks are averaged into values which "should" be representative of what an astrophysicist makes when starting their career (but it is still not sensitive to what part of the United States one lives in!). The latest values I saw were that the average starting salary for an astrophysicist working at an academic institution was about $40,000 US; for working in private industry, it was about $50,000 US.

Hope this helps you.

Laura Whitlock

Addendum (2013 July): More recent numbers from the American Institute of Physics survey can be found at (click the "salaries" link in the "Employment" section).

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