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The Salaries of Famous Scientists

Professor Einstein Money

If like Rosalind Franklin you think you deserve a higher salary, why not find out how to ask for a pay rise? 

Was Einstein rich? Did Newton make a tonne of money?

We took a look at the salaries of a handful of famous scientists that have made their mark on history and converted it into a salary for 2016 to answer just those questions. As our infographic shows, it turns out that in some cases it’s not that much. In fact, if you earn the average UK wage your salary will be bigger than the man that discovered electromagnetic induction.

Before you scroll down, it’s worth bearing in mind that these reported salaries come from different stages in the scientists’ careers: Einstein’s genius was well-established when he arrived at Princeton University for example, while Newton was almost 20 years away from publishing his theory on gravity.

And of course, while it’s interesting to compare the salaries of some of history’s great scientists, stating how much money from the 17th century is worth in the 21st century has its problems.

Update: We’ve also taken a look at the salaries of famous composers. Why not find out if you make more money than Mozart?

Salaries of Famous Scientists


Modern Day Salaries of Famous Scientists from History pound 1-01


How Much Did Famous Scientists Earn?

Albert Einstein £122,560
Isaac newton £10,340
Marie Curie £33,086
Michael Faraday £19,429
Galileo £100,000 (rejected)
Rosalind Franklin £25,559
George Washington Carver £20,238
Caroline Herschel £5,100
Edwin Hubble £14,563
Alexander Fleming £102,000
Robert Hooke £3,102

How Much Was Albert Einstein Worth? – £122,560

Known for: The Law of Relativity

Already famous by the time he arrived at Princeton University in 1933, Einstein had suggested a salary of $3,000. The university didn’t want other scholars being paid more than Einstein, and increased the salary to $10,000.

How Much Was Isaac Newton Worth? – £10,340

Known for: The Law of Gravitation

Isaac Newton earned a salary of £100 as a Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1669. He would’ve earned his money as a researcher however, as it ‘cannot be said that Newton was a good or natural teacher.’

How Much Was Marie Curie Worth? – £33,086

Known for: Discovering polonium and radium

Marie’s research on radium was conducted without a salary, but in 1904, as Chief of Work in Physics at the University of Paris, she was given a salary of 2,400 old Francs. Within two years she was promoted to Chief of Research Work and earning 10,000 old Francs.

How Much Was Michael Faraday Worth? – £19,429

Known for: Discovering electromagnetic induction

As Scientific Advisor to Trinity House, Faraday was paid a salary of £200 in 1856. He was offered a further £100 to work for the Lords inspecting ‘Lighting Apparatus’. He belonged to a church that preached against the accumulation of worldly riches.

How Much Was Galileo Worth? – £100,000 (rejected)

Known for: Pioneering contributions to astronomy

In the early 17th century Galileo requested life tenure at Padua University, which the Venetian senate agreed to. Despite this being tied to a 1000 ducat salary, Galileo changed his mind, infuriating the Republic of Venice.

How Much Was Rosalind Franklin Worth? – £25,559

Known for: Pioneering research into DNA

In a letter regarding the annual funding from the Agricultural Research Council written in 1955, Franklin complained that her salary of £1,080 was ‘less than the average received by physicists of my age’.

Want to ask for a pay rise? Our email template will help show you how!

How Much Was George Washington Carver Worth? – £20,238

Known for: Agricultural discoveries and inventions

Carver’s salary in 1896 of $1,000 plus expenses as Director of the Agricultural Experimentation Station at Tuskegee University angered other faculty members, where the average salary was under $400. Carver wasn’t motivated by money however, turning down a six-figure job offer from Thomas Edison and only patenting three of his inventions.

How Much Was Caroline Herschel Worth? – £5,100

Known for: Discovering several comets

Herschel is believed to be the first woman to be paid for her contribution to science. In 1796 King George III gave her a salary of £50 for her role as assistant to her brother Sir William Herschel.

How Much Was Edwin Hubble Worth? – £14,563

Known for: Pioneering work in extragalactic astronomy

Hubble was offered a $1,500 salary to work at the Mount Wilson Solar Observatory in California after his tour of duty in World War I – this was $300 more than he was promised before the outbreak of war.

How Much Was Alexander Fleming Worth? – £102,000

Known for: Discovering penicillin

As Assistant Director of St. Mary’s Inoculation department, Fleming earned £1,200 in 1924 – four years later he discovered Penicillin. By 1936 Fleming’s salary as Professor of Bacteriology at the University of London was worth £1,600.

How Much Was Robert Hooke Worth? – £3,102

The Law of Elasticity (Hooke’s Law)

As Curator of Experiments for the Royal Society, Robert Hooke was initially unpaid. In 1664 he was given £30 a year. He had initially been promised £80 and then £50 – he supplemented this income with other appointments including a professorship at Gresham College, London.

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