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Working as a Principal Scientist

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a principal scientist. For example, did you know that they make an average of $53.3 an hour? That's $110,864 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 8% and produce 10,600 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Principal Scientist Do

There are certain skills that many principal scientists have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed observation skills, critical-thinking skills and communication skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a principal scientist, we found that a lot of resumes listed 9.4% of principal scientists included phd, while 8.1% of resumes included r, and 6.8% of resumes included drug discovery. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the principal scientist job title. But what industry to start with? Most principal scientists actually find jobs in the pharmaceutical and health care industries.

How To Become a Principal Scientist

If you're interested in becoming a principal scientist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 9.1% of principal scientists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 16.4% of principal scientists have master's degrees. Even though most principal scientists have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a principal scientist. When we researched the most common majors for a principal scientist, we found that they most commonly earn doctoral degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on principal scientist resumes include bachelor's degree degrees or associate degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a principal scientist. In fact, many principal scientist jobs require experience in a role such as senior scientist. Meanwhile, many principal scientists also have previous career experience in roles such as scientist or research fellow.

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Average Salary$110,864
Job Growth Rate8%

Principal Scientist Jobs

Principal Scientist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Principal Scientist

Top Careers After Principal Scientist

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Average Salary for a Principal Scientist

Principal Scientists in America make an average salary of $110,864 per year or $53 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $144,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $85,000 per year.
Average Salary
$110,864

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range114k - 177k$142k$142,479
Salary Range108k - 165k$134k$133,922
Salary Range107k - 162k$132k$131,988
Salary Range96k - 156k$123k$122,568
Salary Range89k - 147k$115k$114,832
Salary Range87k - 134k$108k$108,373
$47k
$177k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Principal Scientist, Oligonucleotide Biology
Principal Scientist, Oligonucleotide Biology
Randstad
Randstad
10/08/2020
10/08/2020
$120,00010/08/2020
$120,000
Principal Scientist, Toxicology
Principal Scientist, Toxicology
Randstad
Randstad
09/09/2020
09/09/2020
$80,00009/09/2020
$80,000
Principal Scientist
Principal Scientist
Spray-TEK, Inc.
Spray-TEK, Inc.
09/18/2019
09/18/2019
$80,00009/18/2019
$80,000
Principal Scientist-Bioanalytical
Principal Scientist-Bioanalytical
QPS, LLC
QPS, LLC
09/17/2019
09/17/2019
$110,92109/17/2019
$110,921
Principal Scientist
Principal Scientist
Axalta Coating Systems, LLC
Axalta Coating Systems, LLC
09/10/2019
09/10/2019
$125,57709/10/2019
$125,577
See More Recent Salaries

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Principal Scientist Demographics

Gender

male

65.4%

female

20.5%

unknown

14.1%

Ethnicity

White

60.4%

Asian

26.1%

Hispanic or Latino

6.8%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Russian

20.3%

Chinese

17.4%

German

7.2%
See More Demographics

Principal Scientist Education

Degrees

Doctorate

71.0%

Masters

16.4%

Bachelors

9.1%

Top Colleges for Principal Scientists

1. Duke University

Durham, NC

Tuition and fees
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

2. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

Tuition and fees
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

3. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Tuition and fees
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI

Tuition and fees
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY

Tuition and fees
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

6. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

Tuition and fees
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

Tuition and fees
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

8. Yale University

New Haven, CT

Tuition and fees
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

9. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD

Tuition and fees
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567

10. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Tuition and fees
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Principal Scientist

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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Principal Scientist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 9.4% of principal scientists listed phd on their resume, but soft skills such as observation skills and critical-thinking skills are important as well.

Best States For a Principal Scientist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a principal scientist. The best states for people in this position are Nevada, Maine, Hawaii, and California. Principal scientists make the most in Nevada with an average salary of $136,373. Whereas in Maine and Hawaii, they would average $135,692 and $135,650, respectively. While principal scientists would only make an average of $134,035 in California, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New Jersey

Total Principal Scientist Jobs:
444
Highest 10% Earn:
$196,000
Location Quotient:
1.42
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. California

Total Principal Scientist Jobs:
3,076
Highest 10% Earn:
$202,000
Location Quotient:
2.36
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Connecticut

Total Principal Scientist Jobs:
115
Highest 10% Earn:
$192,000
Location Quotient:
0.9
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Principal Scientist Employers

1. Pfizer
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$78,554
Principal Scientists Hired: 
164+
2. Merck & Co.
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$81,209
Principal Scientists Hired: 
53+
3. Johnson & Johnson
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$90,441
Principal Scientists Hired: 
37+
4. Bristol-Myers Squibb
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$96,737
Principal Scientists Hired: 
32+
5. Amgen
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$92,091
Principal Scientists Hired: 
31+
6. Halliburton
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$71,210
Principal Scientists Hired: 
31+

Recently Added Principal Scientist Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020