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I got one postdoctoral offer just after completion of my PhD study. I am not sure about the amount of fellowship. I do not have any experience in postdoctoral work. What is the average salary given to postdoc fellow in Wireless Communication Engineering particularly in China?

  • Did they say anything about the salary in the postdoctoral offer? If not, you should ask them. – scaaahu Apr 10 '15 at 3:16
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    @scaaahu They said about 40K USD. – Mithun Apr 10 '15 at 3:31
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    As far as I know, 40k USD is a quite high salary in China. I don't have stats handy. I'll try to find it for you when I have time. Again, 40k USD is considered high in China. I think you should feel good. Just saw that your field is Wireless Communication Engineering which is a very hot field. I think that's why you get that high salary. – scaaahu Apr 10 '15 at 3:36
  • Which part of China? It can be very different.... – ceoec Apr 10 '15 at 7:40
  • @Mithun Is the fellowship tax-free? – user1659936 Sep 16 '17 at 14:39
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According to this news report Low salaries discouraging overseas academics from ChinaDaily USA,

... the average salary across all ranks and universities is roughly 6,000 yuan ($982) a month. That's low compared with the average entry-level salary in Canada of $5,733 and a full professors' $9,485. The average for newly hired faculty members in the US is $4,950.

Hiring postdocs is still a new trend in China. I can't find average postdoc salary yet. Once I see it (it may be in Chinese), I will report it here.

If average salary in the universities is USD$982 per month, I think I cannot say 40k USD per year is low.

Hope this helps.

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    @Mithun I feel obligated to give you a little more info here. Many professors in China have free housing (the university is the provider). Also, The locals know where to buy cheap stuff, ... etc.. There are many things you will need to find out when you get there. The best advice for you is to contact the department to see if you can get some help when you get there. Also, depending on the location and where you live in China, you may not have much left after your contract expires. Still, 40k USD is a very good offer. To tell you the truth, I am jealous, honestly. – scaaahu Apr 10 '15 at 5:53
  • Thanks again. Can I ask you for a little favor, if you have any? Please provide some links from which I can get some idea about taxes. Is there any relaxation of taxes for overseas postdoc fellow? I have already sent a query message to the university Dept. – Mithun Apr 10 '15 at 7:24
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    @Mithun How is income tax calculated for foreigners in China? and When do I start paying income tax in China?. Don't be too scared yet. I know they charge less tax for scholars(I don't know the details). You need to ask the university department. Also, I suggest you to ask a question on Expatriates SE to see if there are experts on this issue. Hope this helps. – scaaahu Apr 10 '15 at 7:42
  • @Mithun Actually, I heard much of the salary for scholars are tax free. I don't know how true is this. Their tax laws keep changing. Your furure employer can give you the best advice. – scaaahu Apr 10 '15 at 7:46
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    The salaries in China are highly variable. If you work in a big city or a small town, the cost of life and salary can vary a lot. For example, in Shenzhen, the city gives about 15,000$ USD per year without tax to each post-doc, and then the university will add some money to that, as well as the professor in charge, so you will likely never get less than 25,000 USD per year in that city. Besides, a postdoc can rent a cheap apartment at perhaps 20% of the typical rent fee and pay no or low tax. I think that makes the salary comparable to western countries. But it always depends on the city/univ – Phil Jan 7 '18 at 3:29
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You asked about tax as a postdoc in China, whether or not the salary for postdocs is tax free likely depends strongly on which country you are from. Some countries have tax treaties with China which include provisions for researchers to work tax free for a certain amount of time. The university will likely know better, but even then you can't be completely sure they will have up to date correct information.

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As of 2016-2017, which is the period I am staying in China, the most common salary range paid for postdocs which I came to be informed of was within 8,000-14,000 RMB per month.

I must say this is highly variable depending mainly on agreements with college and supervisor(s). In reality there is a base salary which is paid by the government directly (in my case of ca. 5,600 RMB) and incrementing on the base salary is the usual practice everywhere. Typically there will be a bonus paid by the college, plus some extra paid by the supervisor, and plus there should be contractual agreements on who should pay for the postdoc's 'welfare' (i.e. loose term concerning rental & bills) and health insurance. In my case taxation happens only on the base salary and has been less than 5%.

Typically larger sums are offered to PhDs coming from universities ranked among top 100-300 in the world. Moreover it is my impression that US-passport holders are offered larger bonuses than PhDs from other countries, often in private.

One should expect some uncertainty on the full amount because a large portion relies on agreements and negotiation. The local culture has it that agreements are volatile and highly dependent on interpersonal relationships, and law/lawyers should have no business in the academia. It is common practice that salary bonuses are used to pressure students/postdocs to do as the college and/or supervisor wishes. Examples: salary deductions as punishments for being late, or caught chatting on the phone during work hours; not adding honorary authors; publishing less papers than expected; damaging equipment or breaking glassware. A bonus may be withdrawn under any pretext after some dispute, including open technical criticism.

The same flexibility always allows for negotiating raises or extra benefits, which are typically in exchange for co-authorships on more papers. These may include covering plane tickets to see family, or travel expenses. Don't be surprised if the raise is pushed further as a bait.

Finally I should stress that at most universities in China there are prizes for publishing papers and depositing patents. The prizes are normally money, calculated based on impact factor. For example publishing in a mainstream academic journal with IF 2-3 in the Life Sciences may be awarded 4-7k RMB. Publishing in top impact journals may award the first author much more (also whether the award should be shared is negotiable).

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    Thank you very much for your answer. I do have one question: Is the less than 5% tax nation wide? Does the local government charge any local tax? – scaaahu Dec 11 '17 at 3:20
  • Hi, I really cannot answer your question. General traits of the way China works: not transparent and things are usually not exactly as declared. The tax amount I retrieved from my online salary system. – Scientist Dec 11 '17 at 4:30
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Not sure about postdocs, but about here is as an example for faculty:

The faculty salaries change from 45 k USD to 75 k USD, more for distinguished professors. As far as I see, these values vary at most 10 k USD with respect to your location. But this is the basic salary. So, you should expect to pay 25 % to 30 % taxes.

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I got two postdoc offers in 2017.

  1. Shanghai (I 'accepted' this one) - gross salary 15000 RMB/month; small subsidized apartment (furniture, gas oven, hot water); subsidized food in university cafe; priority in getting a seat in the university bus (something to consider given the long queues); tax 10.50%. My supervisor has reimbursed me round-trip airfare for journey back home (3 trips in a year!).

  2. Shenzhen - 2 year gross salary = 185000 (from university) + 240000 (from Shenzhen govt.) = 17,700 RMB per month. No idea about tax structure. Living cost in Shenzhen is greater than that in Shanghai. I rejected this offer cz I didn't like Shenzhen and the Prof wasn't really well-known (Connections matter a lot in China).

Salaries in Beijing are also good and it is probably the best city in China in terms of experience. However its a challenge to bear the smog there. Some of my friends living in Beijing have developed skin ailments.

There are also some pretty good opportunities in smaller cities. For instance, one of my friends availed an offer in Nanjing. The university isn't well-known but the salary is greater than 17000 RMB per month which is more than enough for a couple. One can also consider universities in cities such as Suzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Dalian.

Apart from salary, while coming to China, one should consider one's long term plan and personal priorities (e.g. kids' education, language barriers, food, internet freedoms, etc.,). It is also useful to consider that here number of publications matter more than quality research. Bureaucracy is a huge pain in the a** with no one willing to take ownership of decisions. Given the current geo-political environment, the economy will also have to go through some readjustments in the near future. If you decide to come, do expect some cultural shocks. Overall China is a great place to be for experiencing something different and exciting.

Hope this helps

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