The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 1, 2013
What California state workers earn: Scientists

RB_Salmon_10.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

For years, the California Association of Professional Scientists has argued that its members are underpaid, not only relative to counterparts in other governments and private business, but also when compared to what other state employees earn for doing exactly the same work.

The disparity has hit the union hard as its members leave for jobs represented by other unions, particularly engineer classifications.

CAPS also has filed a grievance over what it says are violations of its contractual telecommuting provisions.

A look at what state scientists earned in the last two years:

Number of employees in 2012: 2,561
2012 average pay: $61,032
2012 median pay: $66,157

Number of employees in 2011: 2,439
2011 average pay: $59,995
2011 median pay: $63,257

Largest job class 2012: Environmental Scientist (953)
Highest paid job class (2012 average): Research Scientist V (Epidemiology/Biostatistics) ($103,227)
Lowest paid job class (2012 average): Agricultural Biologist ($15,357)

This chart shows the average and median pay for Bargaining Unit 10 in 2011 and 2012.

With talks and ratification votes for new state employee contracts on the agenda over the next few weeks, The State Worker is taking a first-ever look at what unionized workers earned over the last two years by bargaining unit.

The numbers feeding the series come from the State Controller's payroll database. The figures include only regular pay issued to full-time employees represented by the 21 bargaining units that negotiate contracts with the state. The number of employees includes only full-time workers who were paid during the calendar year. University of California and California State University employee earnings are not included in these figures. The data covers calendar 2011 and 2012.

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 9:17 a.m. July 2, 2013 to clarify that the salary information relates to state scientists, not engineers.

PHOTO: Louise Conrad, right, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Water Resources, weighs small salmon to be released into a flooded rice field near Woodland on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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