Average Salary: $86,040
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $3,592,000
Hey, people go into this line of work to be do-good public servants. They're the folks who get all hot and bothered at the thought of chasing down the modern-day snake oil salesmen, and protecting the public from bad food, bad drugs and even worse stuff (exploding toilets, anyone?). And, lucky for them, the pay can be good at the FDA (that is, if the FDA scientist squelches all thoughts of being the next Bill Gates or Zuck). And government work is fabulous for job stability.
You see, the government works on this fancy government pay scale, the GS system. Basically, it lays out how much people are paid based on how many years they've got under their belts. College graduates with a degree in the life sciences, or something along those lines, can get a research scientist job at the FDA, but it's pretty competitive and tough to come by. Their pay is around $35k if you're putting in your time at the DC offices. Getting a master's degree may put $45k to your pocket, and a PhD will make you a cool $65k.
The government isn't known for maxi-salaries — the big bucks usually are found in the private sector. But the feds make up for the modest pay with awesome benefits: good health care, ample paid vacation time, and so on. The government is also usually fine with changing up the typical workday schedule. Say you end up watching a horror movie that leaves you up at 3am, holding a tennis racket and looking under the couch for zombies. At most private jobs, you'll end up dragging yourself to work looking like a zombie yourself, searching for the nearest coffee IV. Government jobs can offer a more flexible schedule — so long as you put in your 40 hours of work in a week, you may be able to start your work day around 10am or 11am, well-rested after a night of in-house zombie hunting.