I hear that the salaries in US are generally higher with lower taxes compared to Canada. Is this true for postdoc salaries or other academic positions? Sites such as glassdoor give roughly the same salary for postdoc which is 50000 CAD/USD. What a bout taxes, is the tax really lower in US? For an annual salary of 50000 CAD a person pay ~7600 CAD in federal taxes and for 50000 USD a person pays ~5800 USD. This does not include the state taxes. I am a second year postdoc in molecular biology with a background in physics.

My source for Canada federal tax

My source for US federal tax

Glassdoor US postdoc salary

Glassdoor Canada postdoc salary

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    50K CAD is only about 38K USD....that is a pretty huge difference right there.
    – cag51
    Nov 13, 2020 at 15:45
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    @cag51 But the economies are a bit different also. So the difference may be a bit less than it looks like. Rents especially, perhaps.
    – Buffy
    Nov 13, 2020 at 16:18
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    Not all postdocs are in academia. My postdocs (US national lab) are closer to $100k.
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 13, 2020 at 16:28
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    If you're making a practical decision, try to compare different cities using online cost-of-living comparison sites. There's enough variation within the countries that an average answer can be quite misleading. (Especially for rents, as Buffy mentioned.)
    – Anyon
    Nov 13, 2020 at 16:33
  • @Buffy - sure, I just wanted to clarify the expression "50K CAD/USD." Though for that matter, cost of living can go in the other direction as well -- consider 50K CAD in Vancouver vs. 50K USD in Iowa. :-)
    – cag51
    Nov 13, 2020 at 16:49

2 Answers 2


This isn't really an answer, but rather a heads up about how a single average number won't help you decide about taking an offer in one place rather than the other.

First, and foremost, however, there are things more important about a career than your salary. If you make a lot of money but hate the job, then your life won't be very satisfying.

Next, the economies of the two countries are similar, but not identical, and the similarity and ties between the economies keeps personal income (overall) on a rough parity. Otherwise there would be a lot of pressure for academics to emigrate from one country to the other and that doesn't really happen. So salaries may be nominally higher, but so are prices of nearly everything.

Next, as the comments already made make clear, the variability between cities in the two places is probably more important than the variability between the two countries. If you have to live on the US average salary in, say, San Francisco, you will be starving, but in Lansing, MI you will be pretty well off. And whether SF or Lansing is better or worse for you depends a lot on what you like to do with your free time. Likewise Toronto.

While taxes may be nominally lower in the US, the higher taxes paid by Canadians (like Europeans) buys a lot of services that don't exist in the US. The big one is health care which is covered by taxes in some countries other than the US. And the US has been postponing infrastructure investment for so long that our roads/bridges are terrible. I don't know if that is the same in "The Great White North" though. Likewise the US spends far too little on elementary and secondary education. Low taxes in the US is why we can't have nice things here unless you are (very) rich.

Finally, the postdoc is only a way station, not a career. The salary will be "sufficient" even if not extravagant in most places. Certainly much more than what you earn as a TA. But the goal is to move through a postdoc to obtain a more permanent position. With that in mind, the salary is probably the last thing you should weigh in choosing where to postdoc. You want to go where your opportunities for moving to the next step are best.

Think about the life you lead, both the work life and everything else.

  • "This isn't really an answer, ... there are things more important about a career than your salary." Ignoring the question and assuming the asker does not know basic facts is just rude. Nov 13, 2020 at 23:42
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    @AnonymousPhysicist, as is complaining when someone tries to be helpful.
    – Buffy
    Nov 13, 2020 at 23:45
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    Posting without answering the question is not helpful on this site, and I know that has been explained to you before. I do appreciate that you do it much less than you used to. Nov 13, 2020 at 23:46
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    @AnonymousPhysicist, sorry if I missed where you'd been appointed gatekeeper of this site. My "transgressions" have "been explained to me before" only by yourself, actually. Sorry if I also disagree with your attitude and comments.
    – Buffy
    Nov 14, 2020 at 0:00
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    Being on-topic (through guidelines) and open to receiving constructive criticism are part of the code of conduct. meta.stackexchange.com/conduct Nov 14, 2020 at 0:05

Another major difference between job availability. In Canada always difficult to find job both academy or industry. Some point is better in Canada but at the end of the day you need job?. Therefore both countries have mixed benefits. If you want to go academic career then USA is much better choice than Canada. Canada have less resources and weather is another major issue in Canada almost 7 months winter and 3 months summer and 2 months mixed weather. So you can think lot of positive and negative points in both countries.

  • This does not answer the question, which is about salaries. Nov 14, 2020 at 9:59

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