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It's easy for me to find out salaries for tech-jobs but it seems Professor salaries are quite hush-hush. I really love to teach and would be more than willing to join academia. However, I may choose to work for a few years in the industry before doing so. But even for information sake it's really really hard to figure out a tenure and tenure track professor's salary. It's rude to just ask my professors/colleagues directly :P

I'm interested in knowing an 'expected' range for the following countries - preferably both state and private universities (Computer Science). I'm not sure if there is a difference between the MS/PhD faculty and BS/B.Tech/BE though, but it'd be great to highlight the same.

  • United States
  • Europe (Switzerland, Germany more preferable)
  • Australia/New Zealand
  • India/China

Intent of information - awareness to take a better decision on the 'money dimension'. Please don't get me wrong, I am not intending to take a job with the most money but if a faculty position pays USD $50,000 per annum after 5 years of intensive effort, I'd like to hold off for a while. If "it depends" then on what does it depend and after I satisfy those dependencies, what can/should I expect?

UPDATE: Just for clarification, I am on the verge of completing my PhD thus piquing my curiosity about the remuneration since it's difficult to ask your advisor or other faculty members. I have and mostly been asked to wait for infinity for the response, hence the question :) I just wanted to know so that I can take an informed decision when I'm at the crossroads of applying for academia vs industry. Please don't get me wrong. I DO NOT wish to undermine the value of a PhD. I'm genuinely curious and I personally enjoy every bit of my work and it's NOT ABOUT THE MONEY :)

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Slightly related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/718/… –  Bravo Jul 9 '12 at 4:07
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The framing of the question is weird. Before getting a PhD, you have no hope of a professor position at all. The number of years you take to finish your PhD has no significant effect on your expected salary. There is absolutely no guarantee of a faculty job after completing a PhD, even in computer science; quite the opposite. And finally, CS professors make significantly less than their peers in the computing industry; if you're really that worried about money, DON'T GET A PHD. –  JeffE Jul 9 '12 at 4:40
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@JeffE - noted and updated accordingly. Apologies for that. I'm NOT worried about the money, just curious :P –  PhD Jul 9 '12 at 4:48
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10 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

For the United State, see http://cra.org/resources/taulbee/ for salary survey data in computer science. Of course, as Suresh points out there's enormous variation. The median salary for a tenure-track assistant professor in computer science at a US research university is about $90k, but some make quite a bit less.

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While it is a good question which people naturally would like to know before committing for a PhD, a definitive answer is next to impossible.

Your question on Indian public sector is best answered by Prof Giridhar Madras's blog. In this post, for example, he talks about a new professor getting Rs 52000 per month plus accommodation. Then there are scholarships, consulting work for many small companies (whose numbers are bound to be high in a rising economy), vacation period of 3 months when you "get paid in international currency" (ref:GM's blog), paid conference trips, travel allowances within India, etc.

You cannot directly compare this with any private sector company: you are obviously going to get paid more, but you are stuck inside those cubicles with monotonous work and you are likely to lack intellectual freedom.

Regarding Indian private sector, things are hush-hush, and depend on your personality, education, job offers, negotiations, etc. But I would say deemed universities in India are particularly wealthy given India's population and the general affordability to pay high fees. On the flip-side, your colleagues and students are unlikely to be intelligent or sharp, as most of India's intellectual wealth generally lie within the IITs (and at times, the NITs, CEG, etc).

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First of all, you assume that after finishing a PhD, your chances for a professor position are good. As far as I can say (a CS post-doc@EU university), this is generally not straightforward unless you deliver a star PhD. Otherwise, expect at least one post-doc appointment. After a return from industry, unless you were very active in the research community during your time with a company, again post-doc is what you should expect.

Now to the answers, a European perspective. Generally in the EU, probably except for the UK, the academic salaries are governed by tables subject to annual change. In many countries these would be fixed without a variable component based on performance.

Germany:

The positions of research assistants underlie TVoeD regulation (BAT in the past). There is no special category for a post-doc, all research assistants are treated equally. The salary scale reflects the individual's experience, that is, officially years of employment. Generally that should include also academic experience abroad too. Find the current tables also here - note the scales differ for West Germany, East Germany, Berlin and Hessen. You are interested in the class E13.

Professorships are remunerated according to the W scale. Again the salary differs from state to state, but according to this, we speak a baseline of about EUR 47k, EUR 53k and EUR 65k a year for W1, W2 and W3 professorship positions. W1 is for a Juniorprofessor, roughly equivalent to an assistant professor. W2 and W3 are two different levels of full professorship, the particular difference is mainly an experience/salary issue. The salaries are again graded in steps according to the number of years of experience at the particular position. You start at 0 and from there your grades increase.

Note however, at least in CS and generally in STEM, Germany does not fare very well in terms of foreigners on senior academic positions. It's relatively rare to encounter a non-German (or Swiss/Austrian) holding a professorship at a German public university.

Netherlands:

The system is slightly simpler than in Germany, the salaries are fixed according to CAO (Collective Labour Agreement) regulation and subject to annual/bi-annual negotiation and modification. You can find the information on CAO here. Salary-wise you are interested in the salary table, columns H1 and H2 (Professor 1 and Professor 2). These are full professorships. Here we speak about EUR 65k and EUR 58k respectively as a baseline from which the annual grading increase starts. For a assistant professor, the columns of interest are 11-13, so the variance is big. E.g., 11 is also for post-docs, though sometimes assistant professors get that as well. Depends on the particular position.

Now considering positions in the Netherlands taken by foreigners, you are eligible for a so called 30% rule which basically states that you do not have to pay taxes for 30% of your income. That leads to a significant salary increase for foreigners in the first years of their employment in the Netherlands so even the assistant professor salary grades might not look extremely interesting, considering the 30% rule, they turn out to be fine.

All the quotes should be understood brutto before taxation and social system/healthcare/++ deductions.

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There are many factors that go into figuring out the answer.

  • location - different countries/systems have different ways of paying
  • area: salaries vary HUGELY across areas. You didn't mention your area, but you can expect that salaries in the humanities are less than those in engineering which might in turn be less than those in law/business/medicine
  • private/public: in the US salaries of profs at public universities are public knowledge - if you look up the university of Utah you can get my salary and that of all my colleagues. Public universities usually have public scales - private universities are - well - private.
  • level: I assume you're starting at the lowest level, but based on experience/demand things can vary a lot.

To get information, best to lookup surveys that are usually run by professional organizations in your area - they'll give you good ballpark estimates.

Ultimately you have to remember that a faculty salary, like any other salary, is a market-driven quantity with value set by the market. So it's very important to understand the local economy that drives the numbers - the above factors are some of the main drivers.

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Australian discussion

Pay scales are available on most university web sites:

The first challenge is to get a job. You may need a year or two post doc experience before you can get a level B lecturer position. For reasonable performance you'll typically go up one increment each year (i.e., B1, B2, etc. to B6). To go to C (Senior Lecturer), D (Associate Professor), or E (Professor), it is not automatic. You need to meet more criteria.

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Isn't there any difference in pay across dept.s? Does an asst. prof. in a business school earn the same as one in an engg. dept.? –  Bravo Jul 12 '12 at 5:40
    
The general rule is that the pay is the same for equivalent rank in a given public university. However, there are a few exceptions; some business schools pay more. I have also heard people say that in domains where external job opportunities are greater that less is required in order to achieve a given rank (but this is open to debate). I'm sure there are other exceptions also. –  Jeromy Anglim Jul 12 '12 at 6:54
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There's enormous variation in both field and university. I would however suggest that professorial salaries are not entirely "hush-hush". For example, the University of North Carolina system has all their salary information available to the public:

http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/02/24/1011452/university-employee-salaries.html

Look up the department you're interested in, get some names of their lower ranked faculty, and look them up to give yourself a ballpark estimate.

They also break down State and Non-State funding so you can get an idea of how much of the salary is hard money and how much of it is based on grant support.

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Similarly for Illinois: data.illinimedia.com/salaries/index –  JeffE Jul 9 '12 at 4:42
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You can search for faculty salaries at about 50 different public US universities here: collegiatetimes.com/databases/salaries –  JeffE Jul 9 '12 at 4:54
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Your expectation should depend on both the potential salary (which the other answers are provided reasonable estimates of) and the probably of the outcome (which most of the other answers have not touched on). If you have not started a PhD program yet, your expectation about how much you will make as a professor should be $0 since the probability of becoming a professor is essentially zero. Even using generous numbers 0.5 get into PhD programs, of those 0.5 finish PhD (0.25 of those who apply). Of those only 0.5 will get a post doc position (0.125 of those who apply for a PhD). Then you have TT position (0.06) and tenure (0.03).

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Australian starting salary with a PhD is around 70-80K USD. Up to 100K after 5 or so years, ++ if you are a super academic/head the faculty etc.

Cost of living is quite a bit higher than the US.

Tenure doesnt exist in Aus, you will be an academic as long as you can bring in research dollars/you teach important subjects that bring in students. There are no private universities here.

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There are private universities in Australia, they are just relatively uncommon. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_university#Australia –  tobyodavies Jul 9 '12 at 23:50
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Following this question: What's the net income of a W1/W2 german professor?, and according to this link, in Germany and in 2008, the monthly gross salary could go from 3500 euros per month up to 7000 euros per month.

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in Spain you can max out some 35k€ / year

Some details to complete the answer:

I am "Profesor Titular" (senior lecturer with a tenure position, like a second class Professorship). I have 15 years experience My total income last year was EUR 45ooo. That included 2ooo for an extra course, 27oo for a positive evaluation of research and 86oo for the 15 years. That gives a basic salary of about EUR 31ooo when you start. But when you start you have a lower category, so the first salary is lower. There are also variations depending on the region. I pay about 12ooo for taxes and insurance. That leaved some 33ooo as true income. With the cutbacks, I expect some 30ooo this year.

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Any references to support that? –  TCSGrad Jul 10 '12 at 10:06
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protected by Bravo Jul 29 '12 at 11:01

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