I am going to start a postdoc at a Dutch university. This is my second postdoc, and my contract says I am on salary scale 10, level 8. I am assuming that they counted 5 years of PhD and 3 years of my first postdoc to arrive at the level 8.

However, I took more than 5 years (actually closer a decade) to finish my PhD. Also, I had a couple of short-term bridging postdocs over a year, before starting my first postdoc. Do these years not figure in the determination of level on the salary scale?

If there is anyone familiar with Dutch universities' salary scale, I would appreciate any feedback. I wanted to ask here before contacting the university, so as to not sound demanding to them.

  • 3
    The level is normally calculated as 5 + years of experience as postdoc. How long it took you to finish your PhD is not relevant.
    – Niko
    Feb 25, 2016 at 7:36
  • 1
    @Niko can you please post your answer as an answer?
    – ff524
    Feb 26, 2016 at 11:09
  • Your scale is pretty good and fair. Don't bring it up to them.
    – PsySp
    Mar 25, 2017 at 0:19

3 Answers 3


I'm post-doc'ing at CWI now; it's not a university but I'm sure it's the same pay scale - I'm also on scale 10. What I can tell you is:

  • Your slot/rank on the scale is, AFAICT and as @Niko suggests, equal to SOME_CONSTANT + calculated years of experience after the conclusion of your PhD. It doesn't matter what happened before you concluded your PhD. However, I got started on level 9, having only 3 years of calculated experience. So I can't verify that SOME_CONSTANT = 5. Or maybe it's an NWO-vs-universities thing.

  • The calculation of the number of years of experience is to some extent negotiable. In my case, I got my 3 years in industry after my PhD counted as 3 years of experience; and it was not clear from the get-go that this would indeed be the case.

Finally, I've not actually read it, but perhaps the collective employment agreement for Dutch universities has the official wording on this matter. (I've linked to the 2015-2016 version but I don't think this point has changed.)

  • SOME_CONSTANT is NOT always 5. I was also in same situation: 4 years PhD + 2 years PostDoc before going to NL for a 2nd PostDoc and I got initially 10-6 scale. I think SOME_CONSTANT = 5 if #_YEARS_OF_PHD >= 5 otherwise is equal to the # years of PhD. That OP got 10-8 scale is pretty good.
    – PsySp
    Mar 25, 2017 at 0:17

The first thing to note is that in the Netherlands the step in which you enter the scale is a fully negotiable thing. There are guidelines based on experience, but unlike for example in Germany, these guidelines are not set in stone rules. Ultimately, your (negotiated) offer is determining the step. This also means, that you trying the negotiate your step will not be viewed negatively.

Now what would be a fair step to ask for? Lets consider the step that a post-doc who has been continuously been employed at the university would be in. The basic principles are that you would advance one step each year, and that when taking a position in a higher payscale, your pay should not decrease.

PhD students in the Netherlands are paid in scale "P". The last step of scale "P" is equivalent in pay to step 2 in scale 10. So a postdoc hired freshly out of their PhD is expected to get step 3 in scale 10. After 3 years, you would be in step 6.

Since you are being offer step 8, that seems more than reasonable and fair.

Of course, there are other arguments you could be bringing to the table. For example, it is not unreasonable to suggest that they should at least match your the pay in your previous position if that was higher.


My PI, while hiring me was flexible on this. I was assistant professor for 3 years before coming to PostDoc (I know, I know, long story :D) and they calculated it for my favor.

Surprisingly though I got my degree on August, at the moment of hiring (July) I had 3 years of experience and from this my scale was calculated. Sadly, I went to next level not in August (after a month) but after 12 months in the Next July :/

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