MadSci Network: Agricultural Sciences

Re: What is the average pay range for an agricultural scientist?

Date: Sat May 6 03:47:53 2000
Posted By: Steven Seefeldt, Staff, Crop protection/weed science, AgResearch
Area of science: Agricultural Sciences
ID: 956797959.Ag

Hi Trina,

     You've been sent to the right person to answer your question, having 
only last year finished a big job search that had me interviewing for 
government, industry and University positions.  If you have a bachlors 
degree in Agriculture you can start at $20-25,000/year.  If you have a 
Masters degree in Agriculture you can start at $25-30,000/year.  I think 
you want to know what a PhD agricultural scientist might possibly earn so I 
will concentrate on that.
     A federal government agricultural scientist will now start at GS-12 
and get close to $50,000/year.  An older established government scientist 
can get up to the $80,000/year range.  
     University agricultural scientists can start at $45,000 to 55,000 
depending on the size of the University.  Depending on how the person does 
at the University, an older university scientist probably will make about 
$70,000.  The thing is when you work for a university you can make lots of 
money on the side.  A good friend of mine (university agricultural 
scientist) got to be an expert witness on a big case between some farmers 
and chemical company.  They paid him $200/hour to study the issues and 
testify at the court.  He made enough money that year to build a new house. 
 Government scientists can't be paid to do this and scientists who work for 
companies have to give the money to the company.
     Agricultural Scientists who work for companies can start at $60,000 
and the sky is the limit as to how much they can make over time.  If they 
move up the corporate ladder or invent something sellable they can become 
very rich.  If they don't do well or the company has problems, they can be 
fired very easily.  It is harder to fire University scientists (the 
University has one shot after 6 years - called the tenure process).  
Government scientists are very hard to fire.  Also you can try to start 
your own crop advisory company, it's difficult to be successful, but those 
who are do quite well.  It is very risky, once your reputation falls apart, 
you are out of work.
     So that's the range.  Many people with PhD's in agriculture however 
are having trouble finding permanent positions and end up taking Post docs 
which only pay about $25-30,000/year for a couple of years.  Many with 
degrees never find a good job in agricultural science and end up doing 
something else.

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