Show Me the Money: US Life Sciences Salaries, By Region
Location is everything when it comes to compensation in the life sciences.
As of 2023, the average overall salary for U.S. life science professionals is $142,885, but this varies significantly by region. For instance, it could take a life science worker in Virginia over $60,000 more to achieve the same standard of living as their counterparts in the Massachusetts area.
Of course, there are a number of reasons for these discrepancies. The cost of living is one major factor, as is the concentration of life sciences activity in certain areas. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area is home to a disproportionate number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies, which drives up salaries in that region.
Average Life Science Salaries By Region
Still, it's important to be aware of the regional variations in life sciences compensation when considering a new job or a new place to live. We've compiled data from BioSpace's 2023 Life Science salary report so you can make more informed decisions about where to live and work.
Northern California (Biotech Bay)
California's bay area is a hot spot for life sciences activity, and as a result, salaries in this region are high. The average salary in Northern California is $212,434. The cost of living can be high in this area as well, but it varies depending on the location within Northern California. For example, the cost of living in San Francisco is much higher than in Sacramento.
Southern California (Biotech Beach)
It may be because the weather is better, or maybe because of higher costs, but whatever the reason, salaries in Southern California are also higher than average. The average salary in this region is $197,682.
However, the cost of living can be quite high in some areas, such as Los Angeles. If you can land a job in the biotech hub of San Diego, though, you'll be able to spend less of your paycheck on the necessities.
Boston & Cambridge, MA (Genetown)
Home to one of the largest biopharma hot spots in the nation, the Boston and Cambridge area offers some of the highest average salaries for life sciences professionals in the country. The BioSpace salary report shows that the average salary in this region is $193,717.
The Midwest (BioMidwest)
From Illinois to Wisconsin, the midwest has some of the lowest costs of living in the country and higher than average salaries. The average salary for life sciences professionals in the Midwest region is $169,372. So, if you're looking for a lower cost of living and don't mind a little cold weather or some snow, the Midwest may be the place for you.
Plus, many of the Midwest states have enacted tax incentives to attract life sciences companies to their region. It's because of this that many companies there can offer more competitive pay and benefits packages.
The East Coast (Pharm Country)
Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania make up the East Coast region, and it's home to some of the highest costs of living in the country. Not surprisingly, salaries for life sciences professionals are also high in this region, with an average salary of $190,159.
Although New York is particularly expensive, all of the states in this region have a higher-than-average cost of living. Still, it's important to keep in mind that the cost of living can vary significantly from one state to another. For example, the cost of living in New York City is much higher than in other parts of New York State or Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Capital (BioCapital)
The Capital Region, which includes Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, is another area with a high concentration of life sciences activity. However, salaries in this region are not as high as some of the other regions on this list.
The average salary in the Capital Region is $139,543. The cost of living can also be high in this area, especially if you're considering a move to Washington, D.C, so be sure to factor that into your decision.
The Pacific Northwest (BioForest)
The Pacific Northwest, which includes Oregon and Washington, holds an average salary in this of $165,054 for life science professionals.
Like the Capital Region, the cost of living can also be high in this area, depending on the location. For example, Seattle is known for its high cost of living, while Portland has a more moderate cost of living. Naturally, salaries will also vary depending on the location within the Pacific Northwest, so do your research before making a move to this region.
North Carolina (Bio NC)
North Carolina is another region with a high concentration of life sciences activity, and it's also home to some of the lowest costs of living in the country. The average salary for life sciences professionals in North Carolina is $157,496.
With a slightly below-average cost of living, this region may offer a good balance of salary and cost of living for those considering a move. Plus, what's not to love about the beautiful Tar Heel State? From the beaches to the mountains, there's something for everyone in North Carolina.
Texas (Lone Star Bio)
Texas offers a number of opportunities for life sciences professionals. While the average salary in Texas for the industry is slightly below the national average at $132,205, the cost of living is relatively low, especially when compared to some of the other regions on this list.
To put it into perspective, the gas prices are still relatively low in Texas, and you can find a decent apartment for under $1000 a month. So, if you're looking for an up-and-coming state with a lower cost of living and plenty of opportunities, Texas may be the place for you.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to finding the right place to live and work, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The region you choose should be based on your own personal preferences and needs.
Of course, it's important to keep in mind that regional differences can have a significant impact on your cost of living, so even if you're offered a higher salary, be sure to do your research before making a move.