Geophysicists apply their education and experience in physics, chemistry, geology and math to explore issues such as how the atmosphere changes over time or what minerals are hidden in our oceans. Many consider the position of chief geophysicist to be the ultimate achievement since you are typically promoted to this level only after you have distinguished yourself in the field.
The national average for chief geophysicist, according to Salary Expert, an employee-reported salary survey website, is $92,829. Average salary can vary depending on location. Among 10 randomly selected cities, average salaries as of 2013 were Pierre, S.D., $66,482; Augusta, Maine, $74,697; Walla Walla, Washington, $81,216; Miami, $97,089; Houston, $102,013; Philadelphia, $96,916; Chicago, $102,957; Baltimore, $97,084; Washington, D.C., $124,087 and New York, $116,267.
There is also considerable variation in salaries among chief geophysicists compensated at the 10th percentile. In 10 randomly selected cities, average yearly salaries in this group were Pierre, S.D. $49,066; Augusta, Maine, $55,129; Walla Walla, Washington, $59,941; Miami, $71,655; Houston, $75,289; Philadelphia, $71,527; Chicago, $75,986; Baltimore, $71,652, Washington, D.C., $91,581 and New York, $85,809. Generally, chief geophysicists compensated at the bottom of the range work for smaller colleges and laboratories, or have been recently promoted to their positions.
Salaries vary considerably among chief geophysicists at the top of the earnings range, depending on geographic density and employer. In 10 randomly selected cities, average salaries for this group were Pierre, S.D. $108,726; Augusta, Maine, $122,162; Walla Walla, Washington, $132,823; Miami, $158,783; Houston, $166,836; Philadelphia, $158,500; Chicago, $168,379; Baltimore, $158,775; Washington, D.C., $202,936 and New York, $190,147.
The seven years you studied to get your geophysics doctorate will pay off handsomely in monetary reward and a strong job outlook. As a whole, geoscientists, including chief geophysicists, have a predicted job growth of 21 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure exceeds the growth projection for all surveyed occupations by seven percent. The BLS indicates that many geoscientists are about to retire, suggesting that positions at the top of this field will soon be vacant.
2018 Salary Information for Geoscientists
Geoscientists earned a median annual salary of $91,130 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, geoscientists earned a 10th percentile salary of $62,830, meaning 90 percent earned more than this amount. The 90th percentile salary is $127,620, meaning 10 percent earn more. In 2018, 31,000 people were employed in the U.S. as geoscientists.
Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.