Money isn’t everything, but there’s no harm in finding out more about the highest paying science jobs – particularly if you’re an aspiring scientist yourself.
The 2018 Professional Scientists Remuneration and Employment Report (put together by Professionals Australia, Professional Scientists Australia and Science & Technology Australia) surveyed thousands of Australian scientists to record their salaries.
According to the results, here are the highest paying science jobs right now, categorised by industry sector. A lot of these industries employ engineers and tech specialists too, so they’re relevant for pretty much everyone considering a career in STEM.
1. Mining, oil and gas
Average base salary: $144K
Maybe this won’t come as too much of a surprise – salaries in the mining sector are consistently high. Scientists and engineers from a variety of disciplines are employed in mining and oil/gas exploration, from geology to chemistry and most fields of engineering. The roles are highly varied too. You can read more about Free, who applied her maths skills to run simulations at Origin Energy’s oil and gas exploration sites, and Carina, a chemical engineer who makes explosives for the mining industry.
Average base salary: $130K
There’s always a high demand for specialised educators in science, so if you have a knack for explaining concepts, then Higher Education could be the industry for you. Although they can be highly competitive, tertiary education roles are well-paying and highly rewarding. Check out STEM education superstars, such as Uni of Sydney chemistry lecturer Dr Alice Motion, who’s on a mission to make science something everyone can enjoy, and UNSW evolutionary biology professor Dr Michael Kasumovic, who’s also an edu-tech guru.
Average base salary: $118K
The Defence sector is currently enjoying an upsurge in funding and their entry-level programs for science and engineering graduates are highly rated (take a look at this year’s best graduate programs for more information). With automation and cyber security demands only set to increase, this is one industry where the sky’s the limit. Head over to our profiles of systems engineer Olivia from Boeing Defence Australia, and Maddy, who has a background in mechatronics, robotics engineering and computer science and works with Defence Science & Technology.
4. Electricity, gas, water and waste
Average base salary: $115K
This sector is crucial to providing essential services in every urban and regional community. Electricity and water utilities will always require a large workforce and the salaries reflect the important roles these scientists and engineers play in maintaining vital infrastructure, and utilities also received great feedback for their graduate programs. For more energy-related inspiration, learn more about electrical engineering technician Nicholas and how Alex created an energy storage startup out of his uni research.
5. Agricultural science
Average base salary: $106K
Agriculture is one of Australia’s primary industries, so it’s no surprise that the science that makes agriculture more productive, profitable and sustainable is highly paid. Agricultural science encompasses a huge range of disciplines, from crop biology and genomics to statistical modelling and, thanks to the current explosion in agritech, software engineering. Learn more about applying science in agriculture from our profile of agricultural statistician Dr Emi Tanaka and Dr Andrew Blinco, who uses maths to make agriculture more sustainable.
Average base salary: $104K
Manufacturing employs scientists and engineers from a huge variety of disciplines, depending on the products. Certain manufacturing sectors are currently enjoying great success in the Australian and international markets, such as food products, medical devices and (maybe surprisingly) paint! Find out more about these left-of-field manufacturing roles in our profiles of Madhuri, a paint chemist with Dulux, and Catherine, who uses her mechanical engineering skills at Cochlear.
For more info about the highest paying jobs in STEM, check out our list of SEEK’s highest paying careers.
Author: Larissa Fedunik-Hofman
Larissa is the editorial assistant for Careers with STEM and a Chemistry PhD student. Larissa’s goal is to promote public engagement with STEM through inspiring stories.