35

I understand that the salary of a postdoctoral fellow depends on the field, project, contract, and so forth, but I am curious how much is the normal range for a fellow. Someone told me that he prefer to continue postdoctoral fellowship, as he gets the same salary of assistant professorship with less official duties.

In my experience, the range of salary for a postdoctoral fellow is much less than an assistant professor, something between $25,000 - $50,000. In Europe, it is in the lower side, but it is usually higher in the US.

I am curious to know what is the actual rate, and is there a norm for estimating the salary of a postdoctoral fellow?

In other words, when looking at postdoctoral openings, how much is an excellent/good/normal deal?

  • 11
    This is going to depend enormously on the country. – Tara B Sep 13 '13 at 3:16
  • 5
    ...and on the area of research etc. – somewhere_over_the_rainbow Sep 13 '13 at 3:19
  • 1
    @TaraB I know, and I just want to get an estimate for North America and Western Europe. – Googlebot Sep 13 '13 at 4:02
  • 17
    @All Western Europe is hardly a coherent unit, especially when it comes to salaries/benefits :) – F'x Sep 13 '13 at 7:38
  • 1
    Norwegian Polar Institute pays some 450,000 NOK (80,000 $) per year, -ish, from a recent job opening. – gerrit May 16 '14 at 21:30
26

Let's find some official numbers and statistics. From this article:

As a baseline, in 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Service Award (NRSA) postdoctoral stipend for new postdocs was $39,264, increasing to $54,180 for those with seven or more years of experience. Funding levels at universities are broadly similar.

Post-doc salary guidelines depend on individual institutions, and benefits vary widely from place to place. In addition to salary, checking the benefits is important in the US, but less important in more civilized/socialistic (strike out the inapplicable term) countries.

A job site that gathers salary information from US job advertisements has the following for post-doctoral fellowships:

Post-Doctoral Fellow average salary is $39,302, median salary is $38,000 with a salary range from $20,779 to $961,896.

I think it's safe to say that $961,896 is an outlier, but apart from that, the median matches the NRSA number. It also shows that there is a broad range of salaries, even by browsing the job listings on that site.


For Europe, as I've said the situation is heterogeneous. I know how to find numbers for UK, at least. If you look at jobs postings from jobs.ac.uk for post-doctoral positions, the range appears to be £28,000 – £37,000 (apart from a few outliers). This would be roughly $44,000 – $58,000, but you have to adjust for taxes, health insurance, and then cost of living (which can be quite high in UK).

In France, CNRS is the largest scientific employer, and its post-doc salary is:

The gross monthly salary of a CNRS postdoc is 2,500 €


As an anecdote, when I started as assistant professor, my salary was significantly lower than my post-doc salary. And even some of my post-docs in my group had higher pay than me (as well as some industry-employed PhD students). But money's not everything…

  • 3
    The 2005 Sigma Xi post doc survey reported a median salary of $38,000 a year with a mean experience of 29 months. This is a little bit lower than the 2005 NRSA 2 years of experience salary number. Just another piece of evidence that the salary is approximately $40,000 a year. – StrongBad Sep 13 '13 at 9:25
  • 1
    @F'x: Having personal experience in the UK market, I would say you are somewhat over-stating salaries. While your lower limit is only a bit hight, it is very uncommon to have post-docs being paid above 31-32K (at least for recent graduates). In most cases even with London allowance you don't get above 33K. A £35K+ post-doc is an outlier already. (In this website - payscale.com/salaries/a0c35603/… - the median comes at £29,761 and the range stops at £35,050; I feel these figures are much closer to what I have seen.) – user8458 Nov 5 '13 at 4:37
  • @user11852 yes, the scale I gave is the total theoretical range, not restricted to recent graduates… – F'x Nov 5 '13 at 7:12
  • Can you tell me if postdoc salary is taxable in Ireland? – chandresh Jun 26 '16 at 11:01
23

@All, I can only give you some examples. In most areas in physics, in the USA, the postdoc salary ranges from 36000-45000US$ for most universities. Some high-ranked universities pay as much as 60000$ too to their physics postdocs, with an exception of Simons Center which pays 70000$. On the other hand, national labs pay around 70000$ for their physics postdocs - I don't know why the difference between the university payscale and the national lab payscales in the same country for the same field!

In the UK it is fairly uniform for any field, at least in science and engineering. It is usually between £29000 to £33000 per year. Where you lie in this range depends on how many years you have passed after your Ph.D.

In Australia, they usually pay 60000-70000 AUD + 9% (if the contract is for short term - I don't know if the short term means 1 year or less than 3 years though) or 17% (if the contract is for 3 years or more) superannuation, i.e., retirement fund. Again, there are precise rules on where you lie in this range depending on years after the PhD date.

In South Africa, it is somewhere between 180000-240000 Rand per year tax-free.

In New Zealand, you may expect the salary around 50000-60000 NZ$.

In Germany the salary levels seemed complicated to me when I was applying as there are many kinds of taxes and you may avoid some if you are married and have child etc.

In Brazil, you may expect around US$14000 for the national postdoc fellowship (52000BRL). With month life cost of US$1073 (3966BRL )

If you ask me, the postdoc life is miserable if you are in most universities in the USA and have even a small family to support. In my experience, Australia or the UK where the salaries are uniform and above the national averages for the fresh engineers (or other professionals), your life can be much more pleasant - well unless you are in the expensive area in Sydney or London!

Brazil seems excellent too but I can't speak Portuguese !

Edit: Forgot about Ireland. The salaries are around €35000 per year. I used to get paid around €43000 per year (each every expenses like insurance, taxes, 'levy' which was another kind of tax, etc. were on me though) in 2009-2010, however I would think the salary levels have gone lower after the credit crunch in which Ireland has been affected the most.

I should also mention that most postdocs in Math departments in the USA are paid 48000-55000 US$ per year but they have to teach 2 courses a year or so whereas the physics postdocs don't teach at all (if they teach then they get more money than their salary).

Also in Japan and South Korea the salaries are around US$40000 (converting. their local currencies)

  • 1
    very informative answer! – Googlebot Sep 13 '13 at 4:28
  • 5
    @SimonArnold great answer, would you have sources for these figures? – F'x Sep 13 '13 at 7:37
  • @SimonArnold: London salaries are higher to compensate for the higher living costs. I find it a bit unfair actually that it's the only place in the country where salaries and PhD scholarships are higher, because I work in a town which is too expensive for me to live in (St Andrews, Scotland). – Tara B Sep 13 '13 at 11:23
  • 1
    Also I think NZ salaries have gone up (along with living costs). A friend there is getting $70,000 for his postdoc there and he only just finished his PhD. And in Australia the top of the range is more like $80,000 these days. – Tara B Sep 13 '13 at 11:27
  • 1
    In the USA, health insurance can eat up the tax difference. And then you must buy a car unless you are in New York City! To have a fair comparison, then while talking about being a postdoc in London must be compared with being a postdoc in NYC which are equally expensive. I should add here that I am neither from the USA nor UK. I have worked as a postdoc in both the countries though. And the life as a postdoc in the UK is far more respectable than in the USA with the respective postdoc salaries. – John Sep 13 '13 at 16:26
20

In math in the US postdocs generally pay between 40K and 70K with the bulk between 45K and 60K. The AMS has survey data and graphs.

8

Some anecdotal data from (theoretical) computer science:

  • A Simons funded postdoc gets ~ $70,000
  • A "normal" postdoc funded by a faculty member from an NSF grant seems to get between $50,000 and $60,000 around these parts.
  • A postdoc at an industry lab (say, Microsoft Research which I think is the highest paying lab, but numbers at other labs like IBM are not so different) gets upwards of $130,000.

Of course, part of the reason that these comparatively high is that the outside industry options all pay more.

7

To give a lower-end answer, the worst position in France is "demi-ATER": it is a half position in the sense that you have half as much teaching duty than professors (about 4 hours a week on average, for about 24 weeks), but you are usually expected to work full time, research included.

It is paid less than 1200 Euros per month, net before taxes.

The full ATER position is as much teaching as professors, with a month salary of approximately 1600 Euros.

  • Wow, I've never heard of this. My PhD stipend in France is greater than that, even without a teaching post. Not I know what to look out for... – la femme cosmique Mar 10 '16 at 15:21
7

Just adding information for some countries omitted above. For useful links find my answer to this question. For Germany, you are interested in the E13 scale (grade depending on you experience = the number of years from your PhD. start/defense - depends on the position), which boils down to somewhere around 40-50k EUR brutto. For Netherlands, you are interested in a salary scale 10, or 11 again depending on your experience, generally the grade corresponds to the number of years from your PhD. defense. The end result again lies somewhere between 40-50k EUR brutto. There are however significant tax reductions for "knowledge workers", which could significantly increase your net salary.


Later edit: adding few sources

Information about the "30% ruling": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_Netherlands#The_30_Percent_Rule http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/living/official-matters/thirty-percent-ruling

most universities also provide information about this, for instance TU Delft here: http://www.tudelft.nl/en/theme/international-staff-and-students/staff-guests/procedures-prior-to-arrival/immigration-procedures/30-rule/

  • Do you have a link to more information about those tax reductions for knowledge workers? – underdark Nov 5 '13 at 19:33
  • @underdark: sure. See the edited answer – walkmanyi Nov 6 '13 at 20:46
4

The answer to this very broad question depends on many factors such as (but not limited to):

  • field: I can't really say if the same position in one field makes more than another but it's very possible.
  • country: see other answers; North America or Western Europe are waaay to broad to be clumped into a single bucket. (see below for approx figures from Sweden)
  • university/city: bigger and more expensive cities usually call for larger figures, but in practice you don't get richer on that due to higher cost of living (particularly rent)
  • financing: postdoc but where? ... at a company/university/independent research institute? In certain systems it's also possible to apply for postdoc grants (ref in Swedish), I know some people who have gotten grants that include their own salaries. Getting such a grant means your financial burden on the employer is much less.
  • tax: some countries have special, time-bound tax classes for "visiting scientists" or something like that, I have heard that Denmark has a such a policy

That being said, I have got a figure of approx 32500 SEK/mon (ref in Swedish) which corresponds to roughly €45000 per annum (The source is a labor union for university employees).

Hope that helps

  • Denmark's reduced tax for foreign researchers is 26%, which in addition to labor market contributions raises to 32%. As an example, a postdoc with reduced tax and pension exemption (that means that the university pays you the pension that is supposed to pay to the state as you are a foreigner), the net salary is around 40k EUR. – epsilone Feb 6 '15 at 17:12
1

I am not going to research this in detail for you, as you can find almost all of this online, and there are many western European countries.

For western Europe it really depends on the country, you can expect to earn roughly 2.5x more in Switzerland (86k CHF) compared to Portugal or Spain (€33k), with most of the other countries in between (Germany €50k). The cost of living also changes, but still you end up with more $$ in some countries.

In most countries there is a collective agreement, meaning that you get payed according to a table. For example in Germany all postdocs earn E13, with the exact amount depending on the years of documented experience, and you only get to E14 if are directly managing 3 persons that are in E13. So for a lot of places you don't have to worry about getting a bad deal on your salary.

  • Do you have a source for the hard requirement for E14? I know that such positions require some additional responsibilities beyond standard research and teaching, but I've never heard of such a hard-and-fast rule (and would be interested to see it). Usually, there has to be some vague argument about the tasks given being "particularly difficult and/or important". – Christian Clason Mar 10 '16 at 17:32
  • You are right, that's also there and I missed it before. But it does start with managing 3 E13 employees and only mentions the difficult / important after. de.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – VonBeche Mar 11 '16 at 8:57
  • Well, Wikipedia is hardly legal precedent... The actual law only mentions "Beschäftigte [...], deren Tätigkeit sich durch besondere Schwierigkeit und Bedeutung aus der Entgeltgruppe 13 heraushebt." Based on this text, you have to argue for each position independently that it has to be announced as E14 instead of E13; one possible blanket argument that seems to have frequently been successful is that the position involves managing 3+ E13 positions. – Christian Clason Mar 11 '16 at 9:16
0

In Ecology in North America, $45K is generally considered a good salary. $55K is possible via a competitive NSF post-doc. The lowest I've seen was I think $38K. Many post docs are funded via NSF grants and I believe there is an automatic cost of living adjustment implemented by the NSF. The lowest post-doc salaries I've seen are generally at universities in more rural areas.

protected by Community Nov 26 '13 at 5:04

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.