Research assistants do just that -- help professionals conduct research. Depending on the type of research assistant, this may consist of poring over legal documents and other written documents, or it may consist of conducting experiments in a laboratory setting. Because research assistants are employed in a variety of different fields, compensation tends to vary.
Social Science Research Assistants:
Research assistants in the social sciences help accomplish research goals by conducting surveys and assisting with clinical trials. As of 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that social science research assistants earned an average of $42,410 per year and just over $20 per hour. Those employed by state and local governments tended to be among the highest-paid for this occupation, earning an average of about $45,000 per year.
Research assistants who help biologists and medical scientists in a laboratory setting are referred to as biological technicians. As of 2011, biological technicians earned an average yearly income of $42,290 and an average wage of $20.33, comparable to the salaries earned by social science research assistants. While most biological technicians are employed by either scientific and development services or colleges and universities, the BLS reports that the nearly 500 who found employment in the offices of physicians earned well above the national average for this occupation, a mean salary of approximately $60,000 per year.
Paralegals, sometimes called legal assistants, help lawyers research legal precedent. With average annual salaries of $49,960 and wages of $24 per hour, paralegals tend to be among the highest-paid research assistants. The vast majority of paralegals work in the legal services industry and earn an average of nearly $48,000 per year. However, paralegals employed by the federal government average $65,000 per year, while those employed by local government also tend to earn above the national average, approximately $51,000 per year.
Title Examiners and Searchers:
Research assistants working in the fields of insurance and real estate are called title searchers and examiners, and work to locate and summarize deeds, mortgages and other legal documents. As of 2011, the BLS reports that title searchers and examiners averaged nearly $45,000 per year and $21.50 per hour, more than social science research assistants and biological technicians but less than paralegals. While title searchers employed in the legal services industry averaged only $41,650 per year, those working for insurance carriers averaged $47,200 per year, and those in real estate reported an average annual income of $50,500.