Bioinformatician graduates are highly desirable specialists. But is this high demand also reflected in their salary? It all depends on their chosen career path.
Bioinformatics in Germany: A wide range of salaries
Career options for bioinformaticians are diverse. From the chemical industry to IT, there is a choice of various industries. There are also various possibilities for graduates in terms of content in this relatively new area of study. The range of salaries is correspondingly broad. They can earn anything between EUR 24,000 per year for at the start of their career to a gross annual salary of about EUR 70,000.
In general, a bioinformatician's salary depends on the nature of their degree and their prior professional experience. However, the sector also plays a role: In the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, earnings are usually more generous than in biotechnology and research. As a rule, the following applies: The bigger the company, the higher the salary. Ultimately, however, it always depends on the individual's ability to negotiate the amount on the payroll.
In the public sector, bioinformaticians are paid in accordance with the current collective agreement (TVöD). In this sector, salaries are generally lower than those paid by businesses. Unlike in the private sector, employees are unlikely to obtain a higher salary on the basis of their bargaining skills, as the public sector pays on the basis of fixed salary scales.
Factors that influence salary:
- Professional experience & qualifications
- Size of company
- Field of activity
- Negotiating skills (if the salary is not collectively established)
Starting salary for bioinformaticians
Although bioinformaticians are sought after in the labour market, young professionals at the beginning of their careers are often forced to settle for a comparatively low salary. This is particularly true for applicants with a bachelor's degree. They start in the sector with a monthly salary of about EUR 2,000 to EUR 2,400 gross. Graduates with a master’s degree can expect to earn EUR 2,300 to EUR 2,800 gross in their first job.
In the public sector, bachelor’s graduates are given pay grades E 9 to E 12, while bioinformaticians with a master’s degree or PhD are paid at grades E 13 to E 15. The pay grade is often specified in the job description. What the classification means in terms of specific figures depends on the specific collective agreement. The TVöD Bund applies to employment relationships with the federal government. If the employer is a federal state, for example when working at a university, the collective agreement for the civil service of the federal states (TV-L) applies. There are corresponding pay scales for both collective agreements.
Two specific examples:
- B.Sc. bioinformatician, pay grade 10, level 1 (= beginner), employed in the civil service by a federal state: EUR 3,089.22 gross per month
- M.Sc. bioinformatician, pay grade 13, level 1 (= beginner), employed by the federal government: EUR 3,827.03 gross per month
(as of February 2019)
The starting salaries for bioinformaticians are therefore usually higher in the civil service than in the private sector. However, this often reverses with increasing work experience. Remuneration in the public sector increases gradually over the duration of the employment relationship. But the levels of development often lag behind the salaries that bioinformaticians can achieve in the private sector once they have some work experience.
Salaries for bioinformaticians with work experience
With increasing work experience bioinformaticians become more qualified and generally tend to take on more responsibility. This is reflected in their salary. According to data provided by the portal Steuerklassen.com, bioinformaticians can expect a monthly starting salary of EUR 3,100 to EUR 3,700 gross. Note, however, that the factors mentioned here can result in outliers - at both the top and bottom of the range.
The nationwide average salary can be used for rough orientation: According to the portal Gehaltsvergleich.com, bioinformaticians in Germany earn a monthly average of EUR 4,527 gross. In general, those who continue to participate in regular training, take on more responsibility and are able to negotiate well tend to achieve higher salaries.
Regional salary differences
Salaries are usually higher in southern Germany than in the rest of the country. Workers in cities and metropolitan areas also usually tend to receive higher salaries than in the countryside - although the cost of living is lower in these areas. This general trend also applies to the salaries of bioinformaticians, as shown in the table below.
Average salary for bioinformaticians by federal state
|Federal state||First quartile*||Average||Third quartile|
|Germany||EUR 3,543||EUR 4,527||EUR 7,070|
|Baden-Wuerttemberg||EUR 3,352||EUR 4,385||EUR 9,689|
|Bavaria||EUR 3,395||EUR 4,515||EUR 6,842|
|Berlin||EUR 4,045||EUR 4,726||EUR 4,904|
|Brandenburg||EUR 2,797||EUR 3,573||EUR 5,581|
|Bremen||EUR 3,488||EUR 4,457||EUR 6,960|
|Hamburg||EUR 3,265||EUR 4,599||EUR 6,927|
|Hesse||EUR 3,938||EUR 4,540||EUR 4,692|
|Mecklenburg-Vorpommern||EUR 2,690||EUR 3,438||EUR 5,370|
|Lower Saxony||EUR 3,812||EUR 4,203||EUR 4,383|
|North Rhine-Westphalia||EUR 3,998||EUR 4,276||EUR 5,447|
|Rhineland-Palatinate||EUR 3,723||EUR 4,758||EUR 7,431|
|Saarland||EUR 3,366||EUR 4,301||EUR 6,716|
|Saxony||EUR 2,832||EUR 3,619||EUR 5,651|
|Saxony-Anhalt||EUR 2,795||EUR 3,571||EUR 5,578|
|Schleswig-Holstein||EUR 3,128||EUR 3,997||EUR 6,242|
|Thuringia||EUR 2,872||EUR 3,669||EUR 5,731|
|* 25% of salaries are below this value, ** 25% of salaries are above this value|
High salaries in management positions and positions with supervisor responsibilities
Those with a high level of responsibility are remunerated accordingly. A PhD is often a prerequisite for management positions. But it pays off: Top earners among bioinformaticians in the private sector earn a gross monthly salary of more than EUR 7,000. However, these top salaries are the exception rather than the rule. The value for the third quartile in the table above provides a rough guide.
Salary factors - company size and sector
The size of the company is also an important factor when determining salary levels in many cases: Small and medium-sized companies are usually unable to match the salaries paid by large companies to their employees. The average monthly gross salary of a bioinformatician in companies with...
- ... up to 500 employees is EUR 4,337
- ... 501 to 1,000 employees is EUR 4,692
- ... of over 1,000 employees is EUR 5,160
Large companies in the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors and in medical technology sector usually pay more than average. In biotechnology, however, salaries for bioinformaticians are often relatively low. It is possible for employees to achieve a salary jump by switching to a different sector.
Doctoral bioinformatics graduates: Clear salary structure during PhD studies in Germany
Due to the relatively recent history of their discipline, bioinformaticians often do genuinely pioneering work in science. At best, this brings fame and glory, but in terms of salary, doctoral bioinformatics graduates in academic research lag far behind their fellow students who gain a foothold in the private sector after graduation.
Graduates who complete their PhD studies in the traditional way at a university or at a publicly funded research institution are paid according to the applicable collective agreement for the civil service. They are usually also classified at pay grade E 13, experience level 1. Depending on the employer, this gives the following monthly gross salary:
Salary of bioinformatics PhD students in Germany
|TVöD||TV-L (federal states)||TV-H (Hesse)|
|E 13, level 1||EUR 3,827.03||EUR 3,672.02||EUR 3,676.76|
This salary may be increased through research grants or scholarship programs.
Although doctoral candidate positions for bioinformatics in the private sector can be difficult to find, they usually offer better pay.
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Salaries for bioinformaticians in research in Germany
In many cases, the comparatively low income while studying for a PhD is compensated for during the course of the PhD-holder’s career, as a PhD is required for many highly paid management positions. If bioinformaticians are awarded a professorship after graduation, they are paid according to the W-salary for professors. For a junior professorship, the starting salary (grade W1), depending on the employer, is around EUR 4,500 per month. Higher up the pay scale W3, employees can earn monthly salaries of more than EUR 7,000. Specific figures for employees in the individual states and at the federal level can be found in the article "What does a professor earn?".
Without a professorship, e.g. a postdoctoral position, salaries at universities and non-university research institutions tend to be lower. The federal collective agreement for the civil service (TVöD Bund) or the federal states (TV-L or TV-H for Hesse) has established the following classifications:
- Research associate: E 13 (basic pay level 1 approximately EUR 3,600 to 3,800)
- Junior and research group leader: E 14 or E 15 (basic pay level 1 approximately EUR 3,900 to 4,600)
academics.com - April 2019
Bioinformatics: jobs and vacancies in Germany
- Bookmark Bookmarked PhD Student in Bioinformatics (m/f/d) 2023-02-21 Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) München
- Bookmark Bookmarked Postdoctoral fellow (f/m/d) 2023-02-27 Universitätsklinikum Tübingen Tübingen