Average Principal Scientist Salary

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The average salary for a Principal Scientist is $121,037.
MEDIAN $121,037
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United States (change)
$85k - $152k
$3k - $25k
Profit Sharing
$1k - $20k
Total Pay
$87k - $168k

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Job Description for Principal Scientist

Principal Scientist Tasks
  • Conduct quantitative and qualitative research to improve existing products or develop new ones.
  • Coordinate with other departmental team leads to produce effective business solutions, and provide updates to project managers.
  • Provide technical guidance on area of expertise and respond to internal and external queries.
  • Monitor staff performance and conduct annual performance reviews.
  • Lead a team of researchers, and coordinate work activity and training sessions.
The top respondents for the job title Principal Scientist are from the companies Merck & Co., Inc., Pfizer, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. Reported salaries are highest at Cargill where the average pay is $134,261. Other companies that offer high salaries for this role include Merck & Co., Inc. and Medtronic, Inc., earning around $132,898 and $131,050, respectively. Johnson & Johnson pays the lowest at around $113,500. Abbott Laboratories and Pfizer, Inc. also pay on the lower end of the scale, paying $116,809 and $117,544, respectively.

Career Paths

Explore the most common career paths for Principal Scientist. Thickness and color of lines indicates popularity of movement from one job to the next. Visit our career path planner to research other job paths.
Principal Scientist
Research & Development (R&D) Manager
Research & Development (R&D) Director
Senior Principal Engineer
More common (> 20%)
Somewhat common (8 - 20%)
Less common (< 8%)

Principal Scientist Job Listings

Popular Skills for Principal Scientist

Skills in Biotechnology and Data Analysis are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that pay less than market rate include Research Analysis, Project Management and Product Development.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Scientist

An entry-level Principal Scientist with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $95,459 based on 18 salaries. An early career Principal Scientist with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $101,628 based on 156 salaries. A mid-career Principal Scientist with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $116,438 based on 329 salaries. An experienced Principal Scientist with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $127,437 based on 628 salaries. In their late career (20 years and higher), employees earn an average total compensation of $132,704.
Employees with Principal Scientist in their job title in San Francisco, California earn an average of 17.6% more than the national average. These job titles also find higher than average salaries in Cambridge, Massachusetts (8.5% more) and Boston, Massachusetts (6.2% more). The lowest salaries can be found in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1.1% less).

Years of Experience

This data is based on 1,417 survey responses.
Entry Level
Early Career
Mid Career
Late Career

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