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Once I asked about the exact translation of a job title offered at a German University, and related to a 6 year long position, generally called as "habilitationsstelle", the reply was something like this:

"For the first three years, the designation "scientific employee" is applicable (which is not further specified in a contract). Employment is in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement of the federal states (TV-L). According to this, a temporary appointment with the designation "Akademischer Rat auf Zeit" would theoretically be possible if all civil service law requirements were met."

Giving this brief context, that I hope is clear enough, what would the "Akademischer Rat auf Zeit" position correspond to?

Maybe to a postdoc, or to an Assistant Professor, or something else ?

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    Academic ranks and positions vary quite a bit between countries, and often there is no direct equivalence. Mar 20, 2023 at 10:28
  • Ah ok, thanks a lot :-)
    – Ommo
    Mar 20, 2023 at 11:03

2 Answers 2

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An "akademischer Rat" is not an assistant professor or a tenure track position. Those positions have actually "professor" in the name (actually, maybe even "tenure track"), and are paid according to the TV-L W table.

An "akademischer Rat" can be a postdoc (maybe a long-term one preparing for his "habilitation"), but he can also be a doctoral candidate. The name "akademischer Rat" just indicates the type of contract with the state. ("Auf Zeit" just means "temporary", i.e., not permanent).

An akademischer Rat is an "official" ("Beamter"), which is a type of position that has more privileges than a standard employee of the state "öffentlicher Dienst". An "akademischer Rat auf Zeit" is paid according to the TV-L A tables, and the extra privileges have to do with medical insurance and unemployment money.

A "wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter" is paid according to the TV-L E tables and is a normal employee of the state. Although it is more common to see postdocs in the "akademischer Rat" position, I have seen both doctoral candidates and postdocs being put in any of the two positions, depending on which one got free at the moment. In general, positions as "akademischer Rat" are becoming rare and in many places only "wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter" is available for both doctoral candidates and postdocs.

Note: the linked tables are valid only for the federal state of Bayern. If you are in another state, you have to check the tables for that state.

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    I would add that assistant professors do not exist as such in Germany and akademischer Rat is its closest equivalent, although there are many crucial differences.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Mar 20, 2023 at 11:18
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    @Warcraft thanks a lot, so, the akademischer Rat might still be considered as a sort of Assistant Professor, or Junior Professor.. this is exactly what I am trying to understand, since, the acceptance of this offer would heavily depend on the "equivalent position". In other words, stepping back to a postdoc would be a firm "no", otherwise, if it is a sort of "professor-like" position it would be a "yes"
    – Ommo
    Mar 20, 2023 at 11:32
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    @limone To which extent the position is "professor-like" will depend on the specifics of the position, in particular, the amount of research and teaching, and whether you will be expected to develop your own research line vs. contribute to the research line of your boss. Mar 20, 2023 at 12:49
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    @limone You can write something like "Akademischer Rat (position in the German academic system, comparable to assistant professor)" and then explain the specifics of the position. Of course, the specifics should then be of a kind that indeed makes it comparable to an assistant professorship. Mar 20, 2023 at 13:25
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    "the extra privileges have to do with medical insurance and unemployment money" I would be surprised if somebody who becomes unemployed after previous work as an "Akademischer Rat" would get any unemployment money. The priviledge is more that you do not have to pay the monthly contribution to the system. Mar 20, 2023 at 18:33
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+25

The position of "Akademischer Rat auf Zeit" in Germany is typically a temporary academic position that is equivalent to a postdoctoral researcher rather than an assistant professor. This position is often held by individuals who have completed their doctoral degrees and are gaining further research and teaching experience before pursuing a more permanent academic position.

In the German academic system, an assistant professor position is usually referred to as “Juniorprofessor” or “Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter” with tenure track. These positions are more close to entry-level faculty positions and are generally considered higher in rank and responsibility than a postdoctoral or temporary position like “Akademischer Rat auf Zeit”.

Also, check specific details and requirements for each position as the terminologies and academic structures can vary between institutions understand its exact nature and responsibilities.

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  • You need to check with the German state in which the university is located, as they make the rules. Mar 4 at 19:30

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