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Once you have a faculty job, how do you ask for a raise (beyond a yearly university-wide cost of living increase)? Is there any way to negotiate, short of soliciting outside offers? What should someone do if they are not willing to uproot their lives and move to a different city?

  • 3
    This seems like a better fit for The Workplace than here. In fact, they already have this exact same question. – eykanal Jul 17 '12 at 16:34
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    I think there are specific issues relating to academia that warrant a specific discussion here. I mention some of them in my answer. – Suresh Jul 18 '12 at 15:03
  • A friend of mine negotiated a salary cut so that he would have additional time to do his PhD studies. It was implemented by employing him part-time only (whereas he was in practice working full-time still). – gerrit Jul 19 '12 at 14:23
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This is quite possibly both US and CS-centric.

Negotiating raises as an academic is rather tricky. You don't have the same kind of leverage that you have in industry unless you are actually willing to go out there and acquire another offer. In fact, the only times I've heard of faculty getting non-scheduled raises (i.e tenure, or when everyone gets a raise) is by

  • Threatening to leave
  • Participating in senior administration work and negotiating a deal before signing on.

Having said that, you might be able to increase the raise you get relative to others when there's a general raise if you can argue that you're underpaid relative to your peer group, or have done exceptional quality work.

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    I agree that raises in academia might be different from industry, but I am not sure. What leverage do they have in industry that we don't have? – StrongBad Jul 19 '12 at 11:25
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    In industry there are often many comparable employers in the same city. (e.g. software companies in the Bay Area, financial companies in New York, etc). This makes leaving a credible threat. In academia, switching to a comparable university is much harder, and generally involves moving to a new state. – Aaron Jul 19 '12 at 13:00
  • This answer seems strongly suspect to me. If I threaten to leave, the university does stand to lose something... I'm no longer there to do whatever it is I do (teaching, bringing in research money, administrative stuff). This is particularly true if the researcher is well-regarded or young but showing good potential; these people aren't easy to come by. I suspect the faculty member has more leverage than you're letting on. – eykanal Jul 19 '12 at 14:08
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    The point is not that I can't leave. It's that the supply of faculty jobs for tenured faculty (this discussion is moot if you're only an assistant prof) is miniscule, and so it's hard to get into a position where you can make a credible threat to leave. That's the difference with industry, as Aaron points out. Moreover, you'll almost certainly have to leave the city you're in, or even the state, because of the scarcity of universities. This makes your threat doubly unlikely because of family constraints etc – Suresh Jul 19 '12 at 16:45
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    To add something to Suresh's comment and reply to this claim: "This is particularly true if the researcher is well-regarded or young but showing good potential; these people aren't easy to come by." This is dead wrong. It's a buyer's market for good academic talent. Every hiring cycle at my university that I'm aware of has brought in very high-quality candidates. – John Moeller Jul 21 '12 at 5:09
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Your goal whenever you ask for a raise (inside or outside of academia) should be to convince your boss of your value to the company. (It's highly recommended not to start with a phrase like "I need more money.") Much general advice on asking for a raise, applies well within academia.

Obviously you should be consistently meeting expectations. Additionally, most administrations (both at the department level and the college or university level) have favorite goals or pet projects. Many such folks drool over the word "interdisciplinary"; perhaps at a liberal arts school this list of hot topics might include "undergraduate research". At my school, we have a strategic vision, with 5 goals. Whenever you can present your accomplishments as fitting into one or more of these goals, they are viewed more favorably.

3

In the UK everyone receives a university-wide cost of living increase. If you meet or exceed expectations, you also get a raise. Generally one point on the pay scale for meeting expectations and two or three points for exceeding expectations. It is rare not to meet expectations. There is a little politicking involved in being assessed as exceeding expectations.

  • This is pretty much the same at the (canadian) university I work at. Occasionally, a highly-valued prof. can raise their salary by threatening to go elsewhere. Otherwise, the only option is to move upwards (director, dean, VP). – Pat Morin Jul 18 '12 at 20:32
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Short of making a credible threat to quit and go to a competing University, I don't think you can negotiate a meaningful salary raise based on excellence or need, at least in engineering schools. You have to demonstrate that you are adding value which is beyond what you are supposed to do for your own research/teaching program.

For example, you could try finding an activity that is aligned with your research interests but even more beneficial to the University. Then go to your Dean and propose doing that in return for more salary or a bonus. It has to be something that benefits the University as a whole rather than you. Examples are: offer to start an industrial affiliates program, and negotiate xK a year for each 25K a year affiliate that you bring in; start a corporate certificate summer program and ask for a large fee to organize and charge it; offer to start a partnership with a foreign University, etc.

2

Pay rises in the Australian context

In Australia, many universities have a system of increments and levels:

  • Level A: Associate lecturer / research assistant
  • Level B: Lecturer
  • Level C: Senior Lecturer
  • Level D: Associate Professor
  • Level E: Professor

See this example from University of Melbourne HR with pay information.

Within each level there are multiple increments. You will tend to get an increment each year for reasonable performance. For exceptional performance, you might get a double increment.

However, moving up a level is considered a promotion and is not automatic. Thus, you might sit at the top of a level for a while if your service, teaching, and research does not meet the requirements of a higher level. Promotions at early levels are generally handled at departmental or school levels. As you go up, promotions are progressively more likely to require department, faculty, and university support and review.

Thus, if you want to earn more in the Australian context, you may have to work out a way of meeting the requirements for promotion. Your university should have detailed information about how this occurs (see for example the University of Melbourne example).

While there are extensive guidelines for what is required for a promotion, there is still presumably some scope for how they are applied. Thus, it helps if you have the support of key decision makers who will be involved in approving your promotion.

Some other examples

  • I have heard of cases where an academic has been given a job offer at another institution and has used this to leverage a promotion at their current institution.
  • Likewise, changing institutions is one way of getting a pay rise. E.g., I've seen many examples of people changing universities in order to move from associate professor to professor.
  • Some departments have special bonus schemes which permit you to earn additional money for publishing, etc.
  • Some departments are more tolerant of external paid consulting work.
  • There are some exceptions to the standard context where salaries are negotiated a bit more.
1

In academia, sometimes a mere interview at a better department can get you a raise.

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