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Are faculty salaries negotiable in general? Wherever they are negotiable, how could applicants gain insights about the statistics of offers or the extent of safe negotiation?

  • See: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/28/… for some information about European salaries. – Dave Clarke May 29 '12 at 5:46
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    Here in Italy, everything is negotiable (in one way or another). That's another reason why we are where we are... – Avio May 29 '12 at 12:23
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    Almost everything is negotiable to some extent. When I got a job offer, I decided that salary was my top priority in negotiating, because it was a recurring benefit, rather than a one-time benefit. Startup money is nice, but when it's gone, it's gone, and that's it. One key is how you ask. I amassed statistics on why I thought I was worth more. Then I never mentioned any of them. I simply asked if it would be possible. I think I asked for about 5% more than what they first offered me. When they said yes, I wondered if I should have asked for more. :| – Dan C Oct 17 '12 at 21:26
  • @Avio that is not my experience. Salaries for faculty positions in public universities are not negotiable at all in Italy. Are you referring to something else. – Federico Poloni Jun 10 '13 at 9:34
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This entire answer is US-centric, since I have no clue how other countries work. This is not to say that I know the US system that well - but rather that it's the only system I know at all.

Public universities work differently from private universities. Public universities usually have pay scales and these are often public since professors are considered state employees (yes, my salary is public knowledge). So you can start digging around there. Usually there's a range within which you can hope to negotiate: moving out of that range is beyond even the power of the university to authorize.

Private universities usually have more flexibility and it might be harder to get the range of salaries. But if you get an offer you can ask around to get a sense of the ballpark.

As for what a reasonable range is, getting data is very discipline-specific. For CS, the CRA puts out stats fairly regularly and there's the Taulbee survey. For other disciplines, there might be something similar.

Salaries in academia at least at tenure-track level are less flexible in general. Probably the best way to get to the top of the permissible range is to have another offer. Other than that it's hard. Often, the things that are most easily negotiated are other parts of the startup package. Which is not to say that you shouldn't negotiate salary - but unlike in industry, it's less likely to be as beneficial.

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    Private universities usually have more flexibility and it might be harder to get the range of salaries — But you can mine comparable ranges from public institutions (like mine and Suresh's). Salaries at public and private universities are not that different. (In fact, when I was on the job market n years ago, salaries at public schools tended to be slightly higher.) – JeffE May 29 '12 at 7:29
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    Also, I agree that public universities often have pay scales, but I'm not sure about usually. Mine doesn't. – JeffE May 29 '12 at 7:33
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    As Suresh pointed out it is easier to negotiate other parts of startup package. One of my professors (from Princeton) pointed out that you can expect/ask for something like (to name a few) funding to support 2-3 graduate students for at least two years, funding to set up your lab, funding for initial research project, funding to attend international conferences/meetings with sponsors. Also some universities pay varies based on number of courses you teach. – mythealias May 29 '12 at 8:08
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This answer applies to Belgium, or perhaps just Flanders.

Academics are public servants, so the pay scales are fixed. The only thing that is flexible is where on the scale you start. This is then based on the number of years of relevant experience, which is often counted as the number of years after your masters. They will probably apply some tricks to bump it down a notch or two, while appearing generous. No room for negotiation, though.

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    Same system in France. – Sylvain Peyronnet May 29 '12 at 6:34
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    Basically the same in Germany, too. – aeismail May 29 '12 at 8:28
  • I don't think we are public servants in the UK, but the union has negotiated a fixed scale so it is basically the same. – StrongBad May 29 '12 at 8:33
  • @Dave: Does the fixed pay scale vary across departments? – Bravo May 29 '12 at 13:30
  • @DanielE.Shub: Same question: is this department specific? And is it area-specific? Surely the pay in a remote area of UK may be a pittance to a faculty member residing in London? – Bravo May 29 '12 at 13:32
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This answer applies to Australia.

Base pay rates are set by a Federal "Award" which fundamentally covers all academics working in Australia. An employer and employee can privately negotiate an above award wage or condition, but this is never done (employer resistance).

Most academics are covered by a site specific Enterprise Bargaining Agreement negotiated by the union (NTEU) and the employer. This sets graded minimums based on the career phase of the academic, and covers all kinds of academic labour from casual tutor through to professor (a terminal, demonstrated high research output position with field leadership responsibilities). The persons not covered under this are management. The employer is generally unwilling to negotiate variations except for professors and management. Each pay rank has an internal series of steps (Lecturer step 1, step 2, step 3, etc.) representing increases in income based on years of service.

While academics of all disciplines are paid the same at the same grade, the Enterprise Bargaining Agreements vary from site to site, so academics at one University in Melbourne will be paid less than another in Canberra but more than another in Sydney.

  • Good answer. I'd add that the equivalent to negotiating a salary in Australia is negotiating a starting position/level or negotiating promotions. So for example, if you get a job offer as a Senior Lecturer, it may be possible to negotiate starting at a higher increment or in other cases, there may be opportunity to negotiate to get support for the move from for example senior lecturer to associate professor. – Jeromy Anglim Nov 7 '14 at 5:48
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In the UK/England, the scale is fixed. There is a "London allowance" which, again is fixed, that I believe is not counted as salary for tax and pension purposes. Your salary increases ~2.5% for each point on the scale you move up.

Each university sets the starting point at which they appoint lecturers (assistant prof equivalent) as well as the maximum point you can progress to without promotion. There is some variation in this range across universities, but within a university it is fixed. I think most universities/departments appoint new lecturers at a 2 points above the bottom of the scale. Sometimes you can negotiate to move up another point or two.

  • however, at least in some UK universities you can be awarded an additional increment on the scale (effectively a minor promotion), and there are "discretionary" points above the normal top of the scale. – Dikran Marsupial Jun 10 '13 at 10:06
  • @DikranMarsupial yes, however, I think the question is focused on the starting salary and not the negotiating an annual raise. – StrongBad Jun 10 '13 at 10:18
  • yes, I just thought it worth mentioning that the rate at which you move up the scale isn't fixed, which to an extent reduces the importance of negotiating at the start. – Dikran Marsupial Jun 10 '13 at 12:05
  • As I understand it in the UK lecturers, senior lecturers and readers are paid as you describe but professors get to negotiate their salary – Peter Green Feb 15 '16 at 13:50
  • @PeterGreen you are correct. I will try and edit that I'm when I get a chance. – StrongBad Feb 15 '16 at 15:25
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Here is an answer for Germany.

In Germany there are three different types of professor salaries: W1, W2 and W3 (unfortunately there is no English Wikipedia site...).

For W2 and W3 the salary is negotiable. In fact, the base salaries have been lowered when the W-system has been introduced (some 10 year ago or so) but there is now the opportunity to have variable bonuses. These bonuses can be obtained by various means and the precise procedure varies from state to state and even from university to university. Basically, one needs to show that one is a high performer, for example in research (having big grants, a lot of publications,...) or in teaching. Moreover, there is a raise for extensive service (e.g. for being the dean). You can expect a raise for sure if you get an external offer for a position which is at least equally good. I think that there are statistics about the average bonus a W2 or W3 professor gets but I can't find one right now. I am not aware of an upper bound for the total bonus and I think the bonus can get higher than 50% of the base salary.

For W1 professors (junior professors) the situation is different. Basically there are no bonuses but there can be exceptions. One needs to show different things and especially that the position could not be filled otherwise. Moreover, the maximum bonus is at 10%.

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The Academic Careers Observatory may be a helpful resource, especially for the European countries.

For example, their information on the Finnish salary system is fairly accurate: there is a non-negotiable fixed base salary level that depends on your job title, but on top of that there is up to 46% extra that is determined based on your personal performance (i.e., there is a lot of room for negotiation, at least if you can show that you are actually doing your job exceptionally well).

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First: Yes, salaries are negotiable.

The specifics of how much you can negotiate for will depend on a lot of things including flexibility on the institutions end and the amount of leverage you have in the negotiation (e.g., Do you have other offers? what else are you asking for? etc).

Ask around for details on other offers. I've seen folks on the Academic Jobs Wiki sharing details about offers and startup packages to give folks an idea of what is possible to negotiate for. Professional organizations will often publish these statistics as well.

One useful data point: Many public schools, at least in the US, are subject to public record laws. I know of people who downloaded the full database of salaries from public universities they had offers from, created the subset all the people with the title of the job they were offered, and used those data as a way of getting a sense of the range they could negotiate for.

One piece of advice I got early on was useful: If you are never told "no," you didn't ask for enough. So don't be afraid to ask. Of course, always be deeply respectful in the process and keep in mind their own limits and abilities. Your negotiating partners are your future colleagues and a good working environment is worth more than whatever you hope to gain in a rough back and forth over a few thousand bucks.

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This answer applies to Canada.

There is generally a fixed pay scale in Canada. But you can always try to negotiate and sometimes it works. Especially, if someone moves from a faculty position to another university and the salary would be lower, then that person should negotiate to keep at least the same salary (the salary should not decrease). Besides, some top level professors may negotiate to get application for a research chair or that the university also hire their husband/spouse at the same university. This has been done in some cases. You can also negotiate to try to get a permanent position, etc.

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