Occupational Outlook + Average Salary

The field of neuroscience has been described as an ‘explosive field’ that has emerged over the last three decades.

Although we anticipate that most undergraduate neuroscience majors will pursue graduate and professional degrees that would culminate in careers in science and medicine, students with baccalaureate degrees are expected to successfully compete for neuroscience-related jobs in the private and public sectors.

According to projections published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed life scientists will increase between the years 2008 and 2018 by 40% for medical scientists and 21% for biological scientists, with a low unemployment rate (although recessions can impact the amount of money allocated to new research and development and/or limit extensions or renewals of externally funded projects). The median annual salary was $74,590 in May, 2009 for medical scientists, and $75,080 for biological scientists employed in scientific research and development.

At the baccalaureate level,  biological technician positions are expected to increase by 18%, as continued competition among pharmaceutical companies coupled with an aging population are expected to contribute to drug development. Job opportunities are expected to be best for graduates who are well trained on equipment used in scientific laboratories or production facilities. In May, 2009, the median annual wage for biological technicians was $38,700. 

Within the state of Indiana, occupational projections suggest that life scientist positions will increase by 22.5% by 2018 (Indiana Department of Workforce Development, www.in.gov/dwd/ra), with increases of 20% anticipated for biological scientists and 29% for medical scientists. For B.S. level biological technician positions, an increase of 13% is projected.

The most recent Survey of Neuroscience Graduate, Postdoctoral, and Undergraduate Programs (Stricker, 2009) indicated that the majority of graduates from Ph.D. programs in neuroscience pursued further training through postdoctoral positions (70%). Very few graduates were not yet employed (1%).