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I recently got accepted into a fully-funded PhD position in distributed systems in Germany. I have over five years of experience as a software engineer in Greece, working on a product closely related to my PhD research. I understand that prior work experience can sometimes be considered for salary classification under the TV-L system.

Should my prior industry experience qualify for consideration under the TV-L 13 salary?

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You can try. This is mostly an issue for HR, so there is less chance that would lead to a conflict between you and your advisor. In fact, if a conflict happens, you and your advisor will often be on the same side against "the evil university bureaucracy". So, I would say just try and maybe it works.

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