The APESMA (Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia) survey found the mining and infrastructure boom was driving up salaries in the science professions as mining companies continue to provide incentives to attract and retain workers.
APESMA chief executive John Vines said the survey revealed salaries paid to professional scientists rose by an average of 4.8% in the 12 months to November last year.
It found pay rises were particularly high for geologists and geoscientists, and in NSW and QLD some scientists working in the coal mining industry were earning upwards of $150,000 a year.
Vines said salaries for geologists and related professionals increased by 6%, and environmental science professionals experienced rises averaging 6.7%.
“The resources and infrastructure boom will see further increases for science professionals over the next 12 months," he said.
In the face of a continuing skills shortage, the mining industry is relying heavily on salary incentives to attract more school leavers to study science at a tertiary level.
Vines said science professionals had received below-average salary increases in the past and the recent pay rises accurately reflected scientists’ increasing responsibilities and qualifications.
The survey showed there was still a shortage of science workers in the mining industry, especially in the areas of physics and mathematics.
Vines said he expected the survey would be conducted at least every two years, and possibly annually, so scientists and employers could gain a better understanding of the labour market.