US ecologists earn more in government than in academia

When it comes to ecology, government jobs offer the greatest return on investment.

Most people with US doctorates in ecology work in jobs related to the discipline, and the highest mean salary across all employment sectors — academia, industry, government and non-profit — is US$84,900, according to the first fine-scale national profile of ecology careers, published on 21 December in Ecosphere. Using 2013 data from the US National Science Foundation, the authors found that 9,984 people earned a US PhD in ecology between 1968 and 2011 (S. E. Hampton and S. G. Labou Ecosphere 8, e02031; 2017). Of the 91% with jobs related to the field, 66.1% work at US academic institutions and about 15% in municipal, state or federal government positions. Almost 12% work for businesses or are self-employed, and 7.5% work for non-profit organizations. Government ecologists earn a mean of $84,900 and spend about 82% of their time in research and development (R&D) — the highest level for R&D across all ecology-related jobs. Those in academia earn a mean of $62,530; those who are self-employed or at businesses earn a mean of $82,873; and those in the non-profit sector earn a mean of $74,722.

Nature 553, 537 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-01019-z

Nature Briefing

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.