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Bell Curve


Assistant Ecologist. Salary: $33,000 or less 

You're still deciding between your dreams of either becoming an ecologist or a chef, and you've taken a job as the research assistant for a professional ecologist studying the effects of diet on ladybugs. It's your job to mix and then administer their food. To your own surprise, you're enjoying recording the data far more than preparing the tiny meals. Ecologist it is.


Stranded Ecologist. Salary: $41,000 

You're a newly minted Ph.D. and an assistant professor at Deep Spring College in the middle of nowhere. You're about to make a big scientific breakthrough in your study of the bristlecone pine as it relates to spotted ladybugs, but unless you can convince the local town government to finally drop in some internet lines, you're scared no one will ever hear about it.


Ecologist. Salary: $53,000 

After six years inside small, dusty classrooms, you're happy to finally be working in the great outdoors. Yes, there's technically more dust out here than there ever was in there, but anyone who says so is just being a smart aleck.


Human Ecologist. Salary: $62,000 

Your investigation of the multimillion-dollar freeway project was the reason the work was given the go-ahead. You may have set up your findings in such a way that pretty much guaranteed a green light for the project. Sure, it's driving two endangered species out of their habitats, but hey—humans are technically animals interacting with their environment, too. Yeah, keep telling yourself that, buddy.


Lab Head. Salary $81,000 

As head of a private lab, you're making more money per year than anyone else you've ever met in the field. Then again, you haven't really met anyone else in your field to compare it with. Or anyone in any other field. Hmm...maybe you've been spending just a little too much time in the lab.