Diving into the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (aka STEM) requires things like an affinity for numbers, talent for logical thinking and, if you’re a woman, a special brand of fortitude. “Women are leaking out of the STEM pipeline at every turning point in their career path, particularly during college. More resources need to be dedicated to fostering, mentoring and guiding women at this point in their educational path,” says Julia Tartaglia, co-founder and executive director of The Scientista Foundation, an organization created to do just that.
Our goal here at Levo is to give you the tools to achieve your professional dreams, and part of that is the confidence to ask for what you’re worth. Knowledge is power, especially in a field like STEM that can seem like an intimidating boys’ club. For an in-depth look at what you can expect to make at different points in your STEM career, we went to groups like The Scientista Foundation, asked friends of friends and even conducted an online survey so people felt comfortable fessing up. (It’s worth noting that the survey is unscientific and the salaries self-reported, but that doesn’t make the responses any less fascinating!) Read on to satisfy your STEM salary curiosity, broken down by region:
1. $110,000 salary + moderate equity: “I’m quite happy with my salary and very happy with my position. I’m a new grad (I was a physics and computer science major at an Ivy League school), and I had offers from major tech companies for the same base salary with much larger bonuses of an extra $30,000-$50,000 annually, but I am really excited about what this startup is doing. There are also much larger opportunities to be mentored and to take leadership positions. Their initial offer was 30 percent lower and I was prepared to negotiate, but they knew I wasn’t thrilled so they bumped it up ‘to make [my] decision easy.’” — Rose, 22, software engineer for a medical startup in Connecticut and New York
2. $60,000: “I am a state employee. As a result, my salary is largely contingent on who is in office at the time, as well as the state budget. I know similar jobs in my field with my level of experience pay around $65,000 starting, but I’m learning a lot. That matters as much as money in my mind.” — Nicole, 28, Windows system administrator, Annapolis, MD
3. $46,344: “This is a horrible salary and not what I am worth. As a postdoc, we generally cannot negotiate. There are so many other postdocs available that a low salary is acceptable in the industry.” — Ania, 28, postdoctoral scientist at an academic institution in Boston
4. $67,500 + up to $3,000 bonus: “My company recently made all employees ‘bonus eligible,’ but how they did it wasn’t really a bonus. What they did was set aside a portion of our salary to be given after the year end as a merit bonus. While the overall salary stayed the same, now our monthly pay has been reduced in favor of a lump sum merit bonus later. Oh and, the merit bonus MAY be bring your total salary up to your previous yearly income, but it’s all subject to performance. So essentially we may actually make less than before the bonus! Considering I work in Big Pharma, you’d think the pay would be better to start, but it is in the lower range for similar-size companies in the area. Now with this, we really do make less than others in our field. Also, job promotions are hard to come by, so prospects for significant salary growth are slim. Most STEM professionals in my company end up leaving for better pay and career growth. With a Master’s degree and industry experience, I should be making closer to $80,000, if not more.” — Lynn, 36, cell and molecular biologist in pharmaceutical research, Boston
5. $60,000: “I am not happy with my salary, as I know that I am extremely undervalued. Initially my salary was even lower at $36,000, even though I had experience and a Master’s degree. Once I found out my coworkers were getting paid $70,000 – $75,000, I decided to talk to my boss. I theorize one main reason for this is that I am an international hire, so my boss feels OK underpaying me. He has done this to all the other international hires on our team as well.” — Maria, 28, IT business analyst, Boston
6. $67,500: “While this is obviously enough for me to survive on, I don’t think it is as much as what other people in the industry are getting paid. I didn’t negotiate at all for it since it’s my first job. I know some of my friends in STEM are definitely making a lot more. I’m sure that my salary will increase if I stay in the field, but from what I’ve heard, this is relatively low for people in my industry in this area.” — Katrina, 23, software engineer for a small software company, Boston
7. $102,000: “I feel satisfied with my salary now, but it took a long time for me to get to a point of satisfaction. I started with only $62,000 and worked my way to my current amount over six years. My last raise was very significant — 20 percent — but it was to get me to stay despite being unhappy with the working conditions. Because of that, I’m not sure how much that counts towards me actually earning it. I still left the job less than a week ago.” — Rudi, 33, microbiologist, Boston
8. $74,000: “I did not negotiate, but my salary is dependent on the government pay scale. I feel like I make a fair amount for having a Bachelor’s and living in a metro area with a high cost of living. Because I’m on the government pay scale, I’ll likely be making more than my peers in industry in 10 years.” — Melissa, 26, research chemical engineer for a US Army research center, Natick, MA
9. $65,000: “My salary is very fair, as I am fresh out of college and had no experience prior to this job. I did not negotiate because I didn’t want to risk my first job by trying to get more. If I had, I probably could’ve gotten into the high 60s, low 70s range. As it is, my salary seems to be on the higher side compared to classmates with a similar experience level, although I do live in a high cost of living area.” — Shannon, 21, ceramics engineer for a microelectronics company, Long Island, N.Y.
10. $80,000: “My salary has almost consistently gone down since I graduated university for engineering, but I am in the non-profit sector. Friends who stayed in the corporate sector are making $400K, but I’m glad I’m in the field I’m in, even though I did have to negotiate heavily to get this salary.” — Pallavi, 34, technology consultant for a non-profit, New York City
11. $83,000: “I’m pretty happy with my salary. It’s more than I expected to make at this point in my career. I didn’t really negotiate because I felt it was more than I deserved. I also don’t really have any idea how much my friends make. I expect that my salary will keep growing since I’m pretty fresh out of school, but I don’t really know by how much.” — Haley, 25, researcher for a technology company, Rochester, N.Y.
12. $25,000: “I got a fellowship. It’s more than most students in my department get, but typical for a Ph.D. student at a wealthy university. I am not wealthy, but because my expenses are low, it’s more than enough to cover everything I want to buy with some left over for an IRA. I’m happy with this income, especially in today’s economy.” — Kodi, 26, Ph.D. student in experimental psychology, Stony Brook, N.Y.
13. $60,150: “My salary could be a little higher. I’d like to be making closer to $70,000 within the next five years, but for my first job I am happy. When I was applying for jobs, I was going for business analyst positions more than developer positions. I ended up getting an offer from the tech department at the university I was attending. I was pretty nervous about starting and worried about whether or not I’d like it, but I absolutely love it!” — Ashley, 23, senior web developer, Bethlehem, PA
14. $86,000 + $10,000 bonus: “My salary is really good for my Bachelor’s in biology. However, compared to my co-workers who are engineers, I feel underpaid. I work in manufacturing, which doesn’t suit my mindset very well. I’d love to have more of a field biology position, but those roles pay half my current salary.” — Maggie, 35, environmental specialist for an oil and gas company, Philadelphia
15. $35,700: “I’m a graduate student, and the salary is fixed for our department. As someone in computer science, I know I could be making WAY more in industry than I am in grad school. All told, I feel as though this is plenty to cover cost of living and leave me enough to have some fun and save for the future. Hopefully finishing my degree will yield a higher salary with access to more interesting jobs.” — Maria, 25, graduate student in computer science studying computational biology, Providence, RI
16. $70,000 + possible overtime: “This is a great salary for the area in which I live, especially for my age. I live comfortably and save pretty aggressively. I know that friends in other areas make more, but they’re not saving nearly as much due to their areas’ cost of living. I could always be making more, but I’m content for now. I also got promoted fairly quickly to a mid-level position, so I don’t expect much more advancement for a while to come.” — Jessica, 25, net developer for a large industrial defense contractor, Newport News, VA
17. $85,000: “I feel my salary is more than fair. I make much more than I would in academia. It’s less than industry, but I have significant job security. That is more than worth the lesser salary to me.” — Anne, 35, research scientist for the federal government, Washington, D.C.
18. $41,600 + overtime wages: “I make more than some of my friends, but I feel as though I am underpaid. I took on a lot of responsibilities that weren’t apparent when I interviewed. I still love my job very much, but I’m hoping for a raise since I have to do tasks above my pay grade and title.” — Marta, 23, junior IT analyst, Chicago
19. $34,000: “I’m happy with my salary because it’s my first job in tech. I hope that eventually I will break into the $40,000 bracket, but for now, I’m able to live semi-decently. I worked in this same department while I was a student at this school and made $12 an hour. Now I’ve returned to the department as a graduate, and I’m making $16.35 an hour. I’m considered a temporary employee, so I don’t get benefits. That would be the only thing that would make my job even more ideal.” — Nicole, 26, build tech specialist for data migration at a large public university, Ann Arbor, MI
20. $45,760: “I feel grossly underpaid for my field. Most of my friends working in the same field or with similar degrees are making a minimum of $10,000 more a year. I work for a small company, so if I ever want to make a competitive salary I will have to move to a much larger company with more growth opportunities.” — Lean, 26, cell biologist, Kalamazoo, MI
21. $73,000 + 10 percent year-end bonus: “I had a few contract and consulting roles in my field before taking this position. I feel like I’m being adequately paid, and I love my job. But even though it seems like I am doing well compared to some of my peers, with my high student loan debt from undergrad and graduate school, there’s not much left at the end of the month. I sometimes feel guilty about how much money I make when I learn a friend is making significantly less than me, but I also don’t feel like I have any assets or savings to show for it. I’m making more than a lot of my friends, but then on the flip-side, a lot them are buying houses and appear to be in a better place than me. Even though I’m making decent money, I don’t think I’m at a place where I’ll be able to buy a home or get ahead for a long time.” — Paige, 29, e-Learning Developer, Minneapolis
22. $58,000: “This number was definitely enough for me when I got the job. I’d just graduated with my Bachelor’s in computer science. After realizing that I was making about the median for current computer science grads, I was satisfied. I didn’t negotiate, since this was an offer I received at the end of an internship with the same company, and it was quite a lot more than the $45,000 they paid me for said internship. However, after reflecting on the offer for about a year now, I do wonder if I should have tried to negotiate. My mostly male peers all seemed to be making about $4,000-$9,000 more than I was for similar work at different companies in the same region.” — Betsie, 22, internet infrastructure engineer for a technology company, St. Louis
23. $78,000 + $15,000-20,000 bonus: “I’m comfortable at my pay, however I’m due for a raise. Given current industry conditions, that won’t happen for a while. After my industry gets out of this slump, I expect my salary to increase to around $85,000 with bonuses around $25,000-30,000 per year.” — Roxy, 28, hydraulic fracturing engineer, Williston, ND
24. $60,000: “I’m not okay with what I’m getting paid. I think it’s a fine salary, but I’m a contract worker, which means I don’t get benefits like holidays or paid time off. I feel like others with less experience are faring better than me.”— Nicole, 30, database developer for a retail company in Columbus, OH
25. $65,200: “The area I live in has an average salary of of $55,000 for engineers. I had one other offer that was $58,000 + $3,000 sign-on bonus. I didn’t negotiate for my current job as I already knew people who were working, and they got offered around the same amount. I also got offered about $3,000 more than my boyfriend who works at a competing company!”— Heather, 22, software engineer, Melbourne, FL
26. $83,000 + $8,000 bonus: “I just switched to this job from a position with a large telecom company where I was making $20,000 less than I am now. When my current employers asked me my salary requirement, I asked for $70,000. I was stunned when they came back so far over my offer. I never really felt the need to negotiate that further. For the area I’m in, that’s a great salary, and I am making more than anyone else I know around my age, including those in STEM. I hear that healthcare is one of the highest-paying sectors for developers, so I imagine if I stay with this company, my salary will continue to grow at a very good rate.” — Renee, 23, software developer for a healthcare company, Atlanta
27. $57,000 + $2,100 bonus: “I am not remotely happy with my salary. I know friends in the field with less experience than me who are making at least $20,000 more. The salary was not negotiated, and at maximum, I stand to earn only a three percent raise per year. I haven’t even received that three percent raise since I started working with this company over a year and a half ago.” — Nicole, 26, mechanical engineer for a global power industry corporation, Columbia, SC
28. $82,500: “My salary is about average for my position, experience and the area. I expect to make more as time progresses, but I don’t know at what rate. I’d rather negotiate for more vacation days than a larger salary. I have friends who make more in other jobs, but they also tend to work more hours in a more stressed environment. I’m happy to work at my own pace and still have time in the evenings and weekends for non-work activities.” — Catherine, 25, firmware engineer, Dallas
29. $52,000: “I have other friends in STEM who make more than I do. My company capitalizes on people needing work with no experience by overworking us but still paying very little.” — Delin, 26, developer, Dallas
30. $126,000: “My salary has slowly gone up with each job change. I currently make right around the average for my job in my area. Most women in my company are being paid less than their male counterparts, though.” — Amy, 35, senior Linux engineer for an insurance/financial company, Forth Worth, TX
31. $32,000 + undisclosed annual bonus: “My salary is definitely on the lower end of the spectrum for my field. I live in a large city with a low cost of living, so I’m doing okay. Many of my classmates who took similar positions in larger cities have higher salaries than I do. This is my first job after graduating college, and I was hired within a week of graduating. My starting salary was $30,000, and at the end of the year, it was increased to $32,000 as I had become a certified technologist. I don’t plan on being with this company for much longer as I would like to go to grad school, and I can’t possibly save enough money for that with my current salary.” — Gale, 24, cytogenetic technologist, San Antonio, TX
32. $22,000: “It’s not enough even though I split the rent with my boyfriend. For at least a week and a half each month, I’m short on money. I wasn’t able to negotiate because where I study, you can’t get paid more than the cost of living. My school established the cost of living from the 1980s.” — Marie, 27, anatomy and neurobiology Ph.D. student, San Juan, Puerto Rico
33. $61,892: “I think my salary is much higher than many other post-doc salaries because it is a government post-doc. I did not negotiate because I didn’t really know I could. Most of my friends who are post-docs make much less than I do, unless they are government post-docs.” — Elizabeth, 31, research geneticist, Phoenix
34. $33,000: “This salary is enough for me to live on by myself, though I do think it’s a bit low for having a Bachelor’s and the amount of research experience I have. It’s decent enough for the city I live in, but I’d like to make more so I could do more things and possibly move or start a family. I’m planning on going back to school for a Ph.D.” — Lisa, 22, cellular biology research assistant, Tucson, AZ
35. $30,000: “My salary for a lab technician isn’t enough to live on in the San Francisco Bay Area, and neither is my salary plus a part-time position. I feel like I constantly do more work than some other people, yet I’m the first to be let go when we have funding issues. It’s frustrating and I wish that I could be more independent.” — Catherine, 23, neuroscience lab technician for a top university, Berkeley, Calif.
36. $48,000: “I feel that my salary is sufficient for life in general, but I wish it was comparable to what the same job in other countries pays. At least there has been recent progress through our union negotiating better deals for us. My position is a temporary one, so in the future I hope to move up the ladder and hopefully double my salary in the next five years.” — Kate, 31, postdoctoral researcher in biology in academia, Davis, CA
37. $68,000 for academic year + possibility of an additional 20 percent summer salary: “I am joining the faculty at a large, undergraduate state university. Since this is a public university, I was able to see other salaries online. My salary is at the high end for a new assistant professor in the school, so I’m satisfied. I also know from looking at other institutions I interviewed at (all undergraduate institutions) that my salary is probably at the higher end of the average salary range for similar positions, but this highly depends on the university and location. I negotiated for this salary and it was at the upper range of what they were willing to offer. In the future I can expect that my salary will increase over time, but not dramatically so because I am not climbing a corporate ladder or entering a field with high compensation. However, if I reach tenure, I will have a huge advantage in terms of job security. I also have good benefits and a good pension plan.” — Jane, 29, assistant professor of physics at a public undergraduate university, Los Angeles
38. $60,000: “I have mixed feelings about my salary because I am at a startup, and this is my first salaried position. I want my company to succeed, and that might mean taking lower pay until we get funding. At the same time, I hear my peers talking about being able to afford to live on their own, while I’m crunched into a two-bedroom apartment with three other people.” — Kimberly, 24, gameplay programmer for an educational games startup, Portola Valley, CA
39. $35,000: “I was offered this raise after working hourly in the same lab for about eight months. Honestly, I was happy to have a job after finishing my undergraduate degree. I live in a city with a very high cost of living, so my salary is doable, but not enough to live without roommates.” — Pamela, 24, research assistant for university biology lab, Santa Barbara, CA
40. $55,000 + $5,000 retention bonus + $5,000 yearly bonus: “It is not enough, but I was recently promoted from a low entry-level salary. My pay went up 20 percent, so I cannot really complain. The industry I work in is in a small niche, and the company I work for is still in its beginning stages. That’s why compared to other established companies, the pay is not competitive.” — Michelle, 26, research associate III at a biotechnology company, San Diego, CA
41. $90,000 + $8,000 bonus: “My salary is on par with my field, and actually the highest I have made. However, working for a larger company, it actually is lower than what most people in my field make at big companies. I did not negotiate, and I make the most out of all of my friends. Still, I should be making a slightly higher salary as I have more experience in my field than most people my age.” — Kim, 25, senior front-end engineer for a large company in San Francisco
42. $61,100: “My salary is determined by my university to be 80.5 percent of what my peers make, and they believe this is reasonable. Upon taking the job four years ago, I did not negotiate my salary, but I did negotiate over a start-up package for research worth about $20,000. None of this was take-home pay or bonus. I don’t feel that my salary will increase much in the future due to financial difficulties of my institution, but I hope to be a voice within our faculty to strongly encourage our administration to raise salaries to 90 percent of our peers.” — Wendilyn, 34, assistant professor of meteorology, Greeley, CO
43. $85,000 + up to $21,000 bonus: “I’m three months into the position, so it’s new to me. I negotiated a little, mostly around relocation expenses and extra vacation to travel home and see family. My current pay is $10,000 more than my previous job. I was there for nine years and underpaid. My bonus depends on if the company hits its growth, so it’s a sliding scale.” — Amy, next-generation sequencing scientist for a laboratory instrument manufacturer, Reno, NV
44. $44,000 pre-tax: “It’s a little less than I’d like, but I’m in a competitive area, so I’m happy to have a job in my field. I hope that upon getting licensing and finishing my Master’s, I’ll get more. Other friends in my area make about the same. I’d like to get to $50,000 in the next few years.” — Gabriela, 24, geologist for large environment/engineering consulting firm, Portland, OR
45. $71,000 + defined benefit pension (+ 12 percent): “My salary is okay, but not great. My student employees get substantially larger offers than what I make. My position is unionized, and I had to negotiate a much better offer than the union-negotiated rate in order to economically justify leaving my job. Future earnings potential at my present job are uncertain. Departmental funding sources are drying up and management often skips the performance reviews that are contractually required for raises. But I get invitations weekly from industry recruiters, so I could easily jump ship and earn more.” — Justin, 34, computer science/Linux system administrator for Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
46. $65,000 + $5,000 bonus: “I transitioned from being a flight attendant into technology last February, and this is my first job in software development. I attended a four-month bootcamp at Epicodus (the best and hardest thing I ever did) and found an internship immediately after. My employer ended up offering me a job very quickly for about $5,000 more than I was planning to negotiate for, so I just said yes without a counteroffer. I love what I do and where I work! We help high school students research and understand their college options. We also help active college students and entering college students find scholarships. We have the largest and most up-to-date database of scholarships. I know because I helped build the pages! I’m the luckiest person on earth to work for a boss I respect tremendously, work with people who teach me so much every day and work for people who are going to go on to do great things. I don’t know how my salary ranks next to anyone else at my age and my level of experience, but my job satisfaction is second to none.” — Maigen, 34, front end web developer/UX designer, Portland, OR
47. $37,440: “My salary is adequate for my current position. Once I have my full degree I expect it to go up fairly substantially. As an intern, I didn’t expect an astonishingly high start pay, but on the upside, my company gives full benefits to interns.” — Mark, 25, software development intern doing web development, Portland, OR
48. $58,000 + 100 percent of healthcare premiums: “It’s a bit low compared to similar jobs in the area, but my company is a very small company. The culture is really great, so there are lots of other benefits that don’t necessarily translate to salary dollars. If I were to work for a large company in my city, I would be making several thousand more, but I really enjoy where I am at and the work I do” — Jen, 28, electrical engineer for building automation, Portland, OR
49. $35,000: “I feel decently about my salary. I am in an entry-level internship position, so I think that it’s perfectly acceptable for a brief amount of time. Once the internship ends, I would hope for it to jump by $10,000. I was able to negotiate and increase the base by $4,000. In the future, it’ll likely more than double within three to four years. It has the possibility of tripling if I move down to California.” — Tyler, 24, web development intern for a financial company in Portland, OR
50. $95,000 + variable bonus (0-15 percent base): “I recently moved up to this salary after negotiating at my current position. I know this is more than others in my department. I was told this was unprecedented, but that I so valuable they moved resources to keep me. I am very happy with what I’m getting paid!” — Mark, 31, software engineer for a large non-technical company, Orem, UT
51. $125,000: “I started off at $96,000 three years ago. Discounting inflation, I expect to be making $180,000 within the next five years. Most friends either make significantly less or a comparable amount. My salary is very comfortable. I have a pretty low-stress job and plenty of vacation time.” — Catherine, 27, software engineer, Redmond, WA
52. $120,000 + 12,000 bonus: “My salary has steadily gone up since I entered the field, but I think other companies pay more competitively. It’s easy enough to move to another company and keep the same wage, along with potential for stock and stock options.” — Hadassah, 29, program manager for a software company, Seattle
53. $45,000 + bonus: “My salary is very fair for a starting wage fresh out of school, and it’s equivalent to what I made after 10 years in my previous career. I used to do regulatory compliance for the pharmaceutical industry, and then I went back to school for a diesel mechanic degree. Now I fix trucks, buses, boats, and generators. I also have way less stress.” — Kristin, 36, diesel mechanic for a major engine manufacturer, Seattle
What do you think of these salaries — are they what you expected, or were some surprising? Weigh in on the comment section below.
This post was originally published on Levo League by Zahra Barnes.