Lifetime STEM Ph.D. Earnings

STEM PhD earnings
STEM PhDs have a lot of great career options!

Non-Academic Positions for STEM PhDs in Science

         Here at Gurufi, we love working with STEM Ph.D. applicants. Compared to social science or humanities Ph.D. applicants, STEM doctoral candidates have in mind a diverse array of goals for what they aspire to do after earning their degrees. Indeed, one of the superpowers of a STEM PhD is that you have a lot of options after earning your degree. STEM PhDs are in great demand across a wide range of professions and sectors, and they frequently have excellent financial prospects. Here, we will examine the various options and also the possible lifetime earnings of STEM PhDs in a variety of vocations.

Academic Careers: Many STEM PhDs choose to work in academia as professors or researchers in colleges or research facilities. Despite the fact that academic salary can vary greatly depending on the discipline and the institution, tenure-track professor positions can provide steady pay with yearly increments and prospects for advancement. The National Science Foundation reported that in 2017, the median pay for full-time, tenure-track academics in the disciplines of science and engineering was $96,000.

Careers in Industry: STEM PhDs can also work for organizations in industries including biotechnology, engineering, and computer science. In 2020, the American Chemical Society found that engineers with PhDs in industry earned a median income of $136,000 while chemists with PhDs in industry earned a median salary of $130,000. STEM PhDs frequently command greater compensation and more senior positions within their firms as they advance in their careers and accumulate more expertise.

STEM PhDs can also act as consultants, offering knowledgeable counsel to companies and organizations. The typical pay for management consultants with PhDs was $139,000 in 2021, according to statistics from Glassdoor. Consultants can frequently demand even larger fees as they gain more expertise and establish their reputations as experts in their professions.

Science communication is a developing subject that includes explaining difficult scientific ideas to a broad audience.

STEM PhDs can work in a variety of scientific communication positions, including as writing, editing, and generating material for media outlets or for non-profit or governmental groups. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2020, the median pay for writers and authors was $67,120. The pay scale might vary greatly based on the position and sector, although skilled scientific communicators frequently earn greater income.

Science Policy: STEM PhDs can also work in scientific policy, utilizing their knowledge to help make decisions about the environment, health, and other topics. Jobs in science policy are available in the public sector, the nonprofit sector, and the commercial sector. Science policy analysts made a median income of $95,000 in 2021, per Glassdoor statistics.

Intellectual Property Law: STEM PhDs can work in the field of intellectual property law, defending people’s and companies’ rights with relation to their intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights. The median annual salary for attorneys in 2020 was $126,930, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while many attorneys made substantially more money.


Job Title Average Annual Salary Estimated Lifelong Earnings (40-Year Career)
Professor/Researcher (Academic) $96,000 (NSF, 2017) $3,840,000
Research Scientist (Industry) $105,000 (Glassdoor, 2021) $4,200,000
Management Consultant $139,000 (Glassdoor, 2021) $5,560,000
Data Scientist $121,000 (Glassdoor, 2021) $4,840,000
Science Writer/Editor $67,120 (BLS, 2020) $2,684,800
Patent Attorney/Agent $170,000 (Glassdoor, 2021) $6,800,000
Medical Science Liaison $138,000 (Glassdoor, 2021) $5,520,000

If these sound like exciting careers to you, and you’d like to pursue a STEM Ph.D. or Masters, be sure to contact us at! Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top Masters and Ph.D. programs in STEM, humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

  1. “What Are Some Non-Academic Career Options for PhDs in STEM Fields?” by The Muse:
  2. “10 Non-Academic Career Paths for PhDs in STEM” by Next Scientist:
  3. “What Can You Do With a PhD in STEM Outside of Academia?” by Cheeky Scientist:
  4. “From PhD to Consultant: A Non-Academic Career Path” by The Guardian:
  5. “What Can You Do With a PhD in Physics Besides Teach?” by Physics Today:
  6. “Non-Academic Career Paths for Scientists” by AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships:
  7. “What Non-Academic Careers Are Available for Science PhDs?” by TopResume:
  8. “Alternative Career Paths for Scientists” by Nature:
  9. “Alternative Careers for Science PhDs” by Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences:
  10. “Non-Academic Career Options for Biomedical PhDs” by National Postdoctoral Association:

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