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This is a simple question but I am not sure how to find out the answer. Where in the world are the salaries of (senior) academics published and freely available? I found this amazing web page from Canada. Is it unique?

So far we have learned: (See answers and comments for more details.)

  • Many US states give full salary details for public university employees.
  • The province of Ontario in Canada gives full salary details.
  • Switzerland gives full salary details (although no URL given yet).
  • In Denmark you can infer the salary fairly accurately from seniority and job classification.
  • In Finland (and possibly Norway and Sweden), everyone's basic tax records are public information although you can't access it online.
  • In Germany salaries for individual professors are secret, but salaries for other researchers can be inferred from public salary tables.
  • In the UK salaries for individual professors are secret, but salaries for more junior academics can often be inferred from published salary tables.

It would be great to get a fuller picture for Europe. What is the situation in France, for example?

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There is one for the state of California, probably also other US states. Can't look it up right now but it should be easy to find. –  fkraiem Jul 28 at 15:45
In most western countries, salaries at publicly-funded institutions are available. –  Bitwise Jul 28 at 16:13
@Bitwise It's not the case in the UK for example. Do you know any European countries where it is the case? –  felix Jul 28 at 17:43
I don't know why you ask, but be aware that comparing figures across countries is highly problematic to the point of being useless. Social systems, cost of living, legal restrictions etc differ so much that even double the table salary can mean having less money to spend. –  Raphael Jul 28 at 20:35
@Raphael I am interested in where individual salaries are published for a number of reasons. It seems there is a divide amongst Western countries on this matter and it would be really interesting to get a full picture. Of course the scientific question is, does it make any difference to who gets paid what and/or the quality of the academics you can attract. –  felix Jul 29 at 7:44

5 Answers 5

Short answer: Germany. Somewhat.

To explain in more detail, there are four common modes for researchers in Germany:

  1. Unpaid. (Typically PhD students in social sciences. Poor sods.)
  2. Scholarships. ("Stipendiat"; PhD students and post-docs)
  3. Employee of the state. ("Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter"; PhD students, post docs and (rarely) non-professor senior researchers)
  4. Civil servant. ("Beamter"; professors and senior researchers)

The first needs no explanation. The second kind is -- from the perspective of how our system used to work traditionally -- a bit of an abomination with little to no regulation. The amount of the scholarship tends to be similar to the salary employees in similar circumstances get but is, ultimately, for the awarding institution to make up.

Now, for employees and "Beamte", there are well-defined salary tables which anybody can inspect. Be aware that these are gross figures. Depending on your circumstances 30+% won't even see your bank account; you can use the provided calculators to get an idea of the parameters and results (if you know enough German).

  • PhD students usually get (some percentage of) a TVL E13 position, post-docs can get E14-15 depending on their responsibilities.

  • Senior researchers with life-long positions usually start at A13 and can move up to A16 in leading positions.

  • Professors used to get C1-4 but that was changed to W1-3; junior professors (with or without tenure) get W1, full professors W2 or W3 depending on the position.

    However, professors are eligible to negotiate for higher salaries

    • during the hiring process ("Berufungszulagen"),
    • in case of above average performance ("Leistungszulagen") and
    • when they get offers from other universities ("Bleibeverhandlungen").

    Therefore, the real salaries of professors differ wildly (i.e. by integer factors). These figures are not public, not even in one department.

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That's very interesting. So far it seems Germany and the UK are winning the "keep salaries the most secret" competition. Out of interest, is there not a Freedom of Information law in Germany that people could use to get the salary details of senior academics? –  felix Jul 29 at 7:46
@felix 1) To my knowledge, salaries don't differ from the table figures for non-professor researchers, so you can consider these public (implicitly), at least the gross figures. (Arguably, you have no business knowing a person's religious affiliation, health-care and pension plan of marital status, all of which factor into net figures. At least by German understanding of privacy.) –  Raphael Jul 29 at 9:55
@felix 2) For professors, I honestly don't know. I'm pretty sure that officials and members of parliament (and even members of department/university councils) can access the figures; if you have a complaint your representatives and/or judges could decide whether your claim has merit without you ever knowing the numbers. This would make sense to me, given my undestanding of German policy and law, but as I said, I don't know for sure. –  Raphael Jul 29 at 9:55

Most US states have Freedom of Information Laws that allow for people to request this kind of information of public schools. You will find numerous databases usually run by some sort of local news organization that publishes this data. E.g. The Texas Tribune Goverment Salary Database.

I don't know of a central resource for such things in the US. Public schools are typically run by US states, so the information is very distributed. Also, due to the nature of the laws, the information can be as much as a year old in many cases.

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The closest thing I know is notable.math.ucdavis.edu/wiki/Public_University_Salaries. –  Christian Clason Jul 28 at 15:47
@felix: apparently, the highest-paid state employee is a sports coach in many US states. And not only the highest-paid employee at universities, but the highest-paid state employee, period. –  Stephan Kolassa Jul 28 at 18:04
@felix Salaries of individual professors are not released in Germany. The list Jigg linked to shows the base salary, on top of which is added extra pay (usually somewhere between 10% and 40% of base salary) that is negotiated individually between each professor and the university as part of the hiring process. While the former is public knowledge, the latter is in my experience rarely discussed even among close colleagues. –  Christian Clason Jul 28 at 18:52
To add to @ChristianClason's point about Germany: the geographical differences Jigg brings up are due to every Bundesland (roughly like a US state) having the authority to set their W-Besoldung as they wish (within reason). In addition, older professors may still be paid according to C-Besoldung, which is generally more attractive than W. ("W" has been said to stand for "weniger", i.e., "less", although it officially is short for Wissenschaft, or "science & humanities"). –  Stephan Kolassa Jul 28 at 19:09
The University of Arizona has a full salary database here : wildcat.arizona.edu/index.php/page/… –  daaxix Jul 28 at 20:20

In Denmark (and probably other countries with similar, highly centralized wage bargaining systems), salaries for faculty at public (i.e., in Denmark, all) universities are determined by a single contract negotiated between unions and the national government. All faculty in Denmark are paid according to the same scheme, which is based on a combination of seniority, job classification (assistant/associate/full), and some smaller fringe benefits. These contracts are public information. Here's the one that applies to my current position. I'm sure you could find similar documents for other countries.

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Thank you for this. So in practice, can you get enough information about an academic from public resources to be able to work out their salary? I mean is their seniority and job classification (in the sense that you refer to) a matter of public record? –  felix Jul 29 at 7:42
Not that I'm aware of on an individual-level, but it would be relatively easy to figure out. It's basically years in job (e.g. years since PhD) + whatever the bonus is they receive for their title. So my salary is "baseline salary for everyone" + "bonus for year two" + "bonus for postdoc". And all those numbers are reported publicly. –  Thomas Jul 29 at 8:58

In the UK the UCU has negotiated a single salary spine that ranges from £13,953 to £58,172. Only Professors exceed the top end of the scale so it is possible to make an educated guess at the salary of Lecturers and Readers.

Each university sets their own limits where Lecturers and Readers fall on the salary spine and the exact starting point on the spine is individually negotiated. For example, the Manchester scale has Lecturers between spine points 37 and 44, while the Nottingham scale has Lecturers between 36 and 43. Readers are between 45 and 51 at both Manchester and Nottingham. I am ignoring the spine points between the standard maximum and the super maximum since progression in that region is extremely difficult (and generally results in promotion). Typically, you move one spine point a year so if you know how many years someone has been a Reader/Lecturer, then you can make a very good educated guess at the salary. For all but Lecturers who have been appointed in the past 3 years, you should be able to estimate the salary within +/-10%.

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A great resource containing lots of data for European countries is on the European university institute. More detailed information on the academic careers in various countries is on another page of the same site.

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I was thinking of the same website, but it seems that the OP is looking for a salary list of individual academics. –  adipro Jul 28 at 23:01
@adipro You are right, I mis-interpreted the question at first. Sorry! –  Federico Poloni Jul 29 at 6:12

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