Big Bang Theory: What Every Main Character’s Salary Would Look Like

Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parson) is a senior theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He possesses two doctorates, obtaining the first when he was just 16 years old and the second four years later. This means that by the time The Big Bang Theory starts when Sheldon is 27 years old, he has probably been out of academia and working professionally for seven years. It is seen in several episodes that he can be quite generous when it comes to money; for instance, he doesn’t mind letting Penny off from paying him back a loan. This would suggest that Sheldon has some money saved up.

The average salary of a senior theoretical physicist at a high-profile institute like Caltech is around $100,000. In order to change his research from string theory to dark matter, Sheldon is made a junior professor in The Big Bang Theory season 8. This promotion would have increased his salary to around $140,000 per year. In the series finale, Sheldon and his wife Amy, win a Nobel Prize, which alongside the $1.1 million in prize money, would surely have come with a higher salary as he would be highly sought after by any institution.

Leonard’s Wage

Dr. Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) is a senior experimental physicist at Caltech. He has a Ph.D. from Princeton University, which he earned at the age of 24. He does some important work, including classified research for the military on rocket fuel, and being a part of Stephen Hawking’s North Sea expedition. In The Big Bang Theory season 6, Leonard is shortlisted for a Caltech tenure position, along with Raj and Sheldon, which would have included a salary increase if he got it.

Although on average experimental physicists are paid more than theoretical physicists at the same level, Leonard’s one doctorate compared to Sheldon’s two would probably result in him being paid less than his best friend. In addition, according to Sheldon’s judgment, most of Leonard’s work would be seen as “derivative.” However, it’s likely Leonard’s salary is somewhere around $100,000 a year and remains pretty much the same for the whole series.

Penny’s Wage

Penny Teller (Kaley Cuoco) is an aspiring actress at the start of The Big Bang Theory. Her acting career never amounts to more than low-budget horror films, commercials, and occasional theater gigs. Her main source of income actually comes from her job at The Cheesecake Factory. Penny waitresses and bartends at her job, making minimum wage plus tips. While tips may vary, Penny’s salary likely wouldn’t have been more than $28,000 per year seeing as how the California minimum wage in 2007 was $7.50.

However, later in The Big Bang Theory, Penny changes career paths and becomes a pharmaceutical representative at her friend Bernadette’s company. She is said to be the third-best salesperson at the company. This is a big salary difference from her job at the Cheesecake Factory. With this job, Penny would be making about $75,000 per year, if not upwards of $150,000 if her job factors in performance bonuses.

Raj’s Wage

Dr. Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) is an astrophysicist at Caltech and also has a doctorate. He has made some impressive achievements throughout his career, including discovering a planet, being featured as one of People magazine’s “30 Under 30,” and being awarded the Newcomb Medal, worth around $25,000. The Big Bang Theory‘s Raj also has family living in India who regularly send him expensive gifts and even pay his rent since they are billionaires.

When his research ends, Raj takes a job working with Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory in order to avoid his work permit being made void and getting deported. Later, he also gets a job as a speaker at the Griffith Observatory Planetarium. His combined salary would be around $100,000.

Howard’s Wage

Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) is an aerospace engineer at Caltech. Even though Sheldon often looks down on Howard in The Big Bang Theory for having a Masters instead of a Ph.D., his career has not been hindered by this. Howard designed a satellite to orbit Jupiter’s largest moon, and has piloted the Mars rover. When NASA selects his design for a deep field space telescope, Howard undergoes astronaut training and then goes into space. His experience as an astronaut opens up other career possibilities for him, including writing books and speaking at the planetarium.

Howard’s wife, Bernadette, sometimes reminds him that she makes more than him since she makes a “butt load” of money as a microbiologist. However, considering his achievements, Howard probably makes more than the average salary in his field, which is around $85,000. Instead, Howard’s salary in The Big Bang Theory is probably closer to $100,000 per year.


More information about Big Bang Theory: What Every Main Character’s Salary Would Look Like

Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parson) is a senior theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He possesses two doctorates, obtaining the first when he was just 16 years old and the second four years later. This means that by the time The Big Bang Theory starts when Sheldon is 27 years old, he has probably been out of academia and working professionally for seven years. It is seen in several episodes that he can be quite generous when it comes to money; for instance, he doesn’t mind letting Penny off from paying him back a loan. This would suggest that Sheldon has some money saved up.

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The average salary of a senior theoretical physicist at a high-profile institute like Caltech is around $100,000. In order to change his research from string theory to dark matter, Sheldon is made a junior professor in The Big Bang Theory season 8. This promotion would have increased his salary to around $140,000 per year. In the series finale, Sheldon and his wife Amy, win a Nobel Prize, which alongside the $1.1 million in prize money, would surely have come with a higher salary as he would be highly sought after by any institution.
Leonard’s Wage

Dr. Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) is a senior experimental physicist at Caltech. He has a Ph.D. from Princeton University, which he earned at the age of 24. He does some important work, including classified research for the military on rocket fuel, and being a part of Stephen Hawking’s North Sea expedition. In The Big Bang Theory season 6, Leonard is shortlisted for a Caltech tenure position, along with Raj and Sheldon, which would have included a salary increase if he got it.

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Although on average experimental physicists are paid more than theoretical physicists at the same level, Leonard’s one doctorate compared to Sheldon’s two would probably result in him being paid less than his best friend. In addition, according to Sheldon’s judgment, most of Leonard’s work would be seen as “derivative.” However, it’s likely Leonard’s salary is somewhere around $100,000 a year and remains pretty much the same for the whole series.
Penny’s Wage

Penny Teller (Kaley Cuoco) is an aspiring actress at the start of The Big Bang Theory. Her acting career never amounts to more than low-budget horror films, commercials, and occasional theater gigs. Her main source of income actually comes from her job at The Cheesecake Factory. Penny waitresses and bartends at her job, making minimum wage plus tips. While tips may vary, Penny’s salary likely wouldn’t have been more than $28,000 per year seeing as how the California minimum wage in 2007 was $7.50.

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However, later in The Big Bang Theory, Penny changes career paths and becomes a pharmaceutical representative at her friend Bernadette’s company. She is said to be the third-best salesperson at the company. This is a big salary difference from her job at the Cheesecake Factory. With this job, Penny would be making about $75,000 per year, if not upwards of $150,000 if her job factors in performance bonuses.
Raj’s Wage

Dr. Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) is an astrophysicist at Caltech and also has a doctorate. He has made some impressive achievements throughout his career, including discovering a planet, being featured as one of People magazine’s “30 Under 30,” and being awarded the Newcomb Medal, worth around $25,000. The Big Bang Theory‘s Raj also has family living in India who regularly send him expensive gifts and even pay his rent since they are billionaires.
When his research ends, Raj takes a job working with Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory in order to avoid his work permit being made void and getting deported. Later, he also gets a job as a speaker at the Griffith Observatory Planetarium. His combined salary would be around $100,000.

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Howard’s Wage

Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) is an aerospace engineer at Caltech. Even though Sheldon often looks down on Howard in The Big Bang Theory for having a Masters instead of a Ph.D., his career has not been hindered by this. Howard designed a satellite to orbit Jupiter’s largest moon, and has piloted the Mars rover. When NASA selects his design for a deep field space telescope, Howard undergoes astronaut training and then goes into space. His experience as an astronaut opens up other career possibilities for him, including writing books and speaking at the planetarium.
Howard’s wife, Bernadette, sometimes reminds him that she makes more than him since she makes a “butt load” of money as a microbiologist. However, considering his achievements, Howard probably makes more than the average salary in his field, which is around $85,000. Instead, Howard’s salary in The Big Bang Theory is probably closer to $100,000 per year.

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