How scientists get PAID


How scientists get paid is often a point of confusion

In part, this is because there are MANY different kinds of scientists and MANY different ways we can get paid.

Here Dr. Mike Gil breaks it down for you, but keep in mind there is a ton of variability out there. For example, he explains that it’s important to keep in mind he is one person who is:

– American
– A researcher
– Working in academia / through universities

So, while he gets into the general lay of the land (not just how he did it) you’ll likely find other perspectives, details, tips and tricks out there from others.

So, in general how do scientists get paid?

Typically scientists research gets funded by grants, and a scientists salary is often also (at least in part) covered by grants.

There are 2 ends of the grant research funding spectrum:

1) Scientists whos salary is completely reliant on grants
This can be a stressful position to be in, as grants aren’t always awarded… so there may be time periods where they aren’t getting paid.

2) Scientists whos salary does not rely on grants at all
In this scenario, the scientist’s salary is covered 12 months out of the year by other means, and the grants cover research costs, and may supplement their salary.

3) The most common – a hybrid
In traditional academic institutions in the United States, it’s not uncommon at all for it to be a hybrid model. Most often in Dr. Gil’s experience, it’s 9 months of salary paid by the university (your employer as a scientist in academia), and you are responsible for the 3 month summer salary that is typically funded through grants.

Where do you apply for science grants?

  1. Federal Government
  2. Various agencies
  3. Non profits
  4. Private foundations

So… are taxes paying for science grants?

Yes, it is true that if you are paying federal taxes in the United States a part of those taxes are funding grants – so research and in part salaries of scientists. This is helping ensure scientists can stay alive while they conduct their research that is meant to help society both domestically and abroad.

When researchers work for the government, be it municipal, state, federal (in the United States or other countries), their salaries are often paid entirely through taxation. That’s another way you (the people) are instrumental in keeping not only science, but scientists going!

Scientists are essentially public servants whos job it is to expand human knowledge for the betterment of society as a whole.

For more details specifically on marine biologists, check out How Much Do Marine Biologists Get Paid?

It can be a bit chancy

It is a different pay model than most people are used to. There is an element of chance that’s there. You could go, in theory, without pay for a while if you are unable to get grants. This is one of the reasons Dr. Gil is such an advocate for the funding of science!

Obviously, it’s in his interest to remain able to be paid – and this helps him be able to focus his efforts on developing new research that will improve how we understand our world!

Ask any scientists and they’ll say of course grant money is essential. They not only need their research funded, but also to be able to feed themselves!

If you have additional specific questions about this topic, please leave them in the comments, and we’ll address them in a follow-up video.

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