I have had a video conference with a university research center in the U.S. The interview lasted for about an hour and the professor told me that they would like me to come to campus to visit their center. I was told about the salary and it is lower than the average post doc salary that is followed by the NIH. However, he mentioned that there is additional 20 thousands dollars (I think he said for conferences but I am not sure).

The big advantage in this position is that it will allow me to focus on research without being bothered with heavy load of teaching. At the same time, I have been on campus interview for a tenure track faculty position and I am waiting to hear from them. The tenure track is for a position that focuses on teaching but provides me the opportunity to do my own research as much as I wish.

If I am inviting for a campus interview for the post doc position, is it acceptable to inquire about the salary again. Can the salary of a post doc be negotiable?

  • Post-doc vs TT is highly dependent on your field! In some fields, the market for both is very competitive/tight. Some might require certain number of years before you can be considered for a TT position in a good R1.
    – The Guy
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 12:24
  • Unless the postdoc salary is making you into a beggar, don't bother about it. The postdoc is your golden opportunity to get your research really done and aim for a research-focused rather then teaching-heavy career.
    – Walter
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 15:51

2 Answers 2


It is certainly fine to ask for clarification of what you were told about the salary and other financial details. Keep in mind that nothing is certain until you have an offer in writing.

See How to handle salary negotiations while negotiating a postdoc position? regarding negotiation of postdoc salaries. My guess is that the salary would be negotiable only within a narrow band, if at all. If you get offered the tenure-track job, you shouldn't expect the postdoc employer to try to match it.

The main reason to choose the postdoc over the tenure-track job is if you think that the additional years of full-time research will help you get a better job afterwards, or improve your research success over the long run, and if you think this will compensate you for a couple years of a lower salary. It very well might.

Keep in mind that a position that "focuses on teaching" will likely have teaching loads that leave you very little time or energy for research, and may also not give you much funding for that research. I think people who take teaching-oriented positions very often overestimate the amount of research they will actually be able to get done.

  • I am well aware of the time that teaching can consume. When I started teaching many years ago, it was time-consuming to prepare a teaching unit and to follow with all students requests. However, today I think that I am much less consumed by students requests and questions because I got used to it. I am also going to put a publishing plan in place and I am very good at committing myself to a plan and following through it.
    – Change
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 2:13

Let me only comment on the post-doc salary, as I don't think you really want to ask us whether it is better to work as post-doc during mostly research, of tenure-track doing mostly teaching - the answer would be highly subjective.

ANY salary is negotiable: some governments forbid individual negotiation, but allow collective negotiation. US allows individual negotiation.

In US, your salary would come out of some PI grant, i.e. a larger pool of money. Thus he/she can certainly offer a bit more than what he offered initially, if he/she believes you are the best match for his/her team, and is willing to sacrifice on other investments.

How much you can negotiate depends on the size of the PI fund, the fair market value, your negotiation skills. In US academia and EU industry I was able to negotiate a 7-10% salary increase over the first offer. I am sure you can do better if you're good, and do your homework in understanding average salaries, and what influences them (private vs public academic institutions, lab vs universities, big city vs small city, etc.)

  • The "absurd" is individual salary negotiations. If the academic staff in that university or that country/region has any kind of power and is even minimally organized, that's one of the first things we as academics get rid of. No more discrimination, no more utilizing the extreme assymetry of power, no more personal favorites etc. A more powerful academic staff would also spread funding across all academic fields so that humanities and arts, which don't result in commercial benefit for donors and funders, don't get underfunded or have academic underpaid.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 13:14
  • Can you explain what is absurd about salary negotiation? I repeat it: salary are something that is either individually, or collectively negotiated. If you, like me, come from a country where salary are "fixed", that is to say collectively negotiated, then you know that all the best scientists typically go to work where salaries are individually negotiated, so they can get a better pay.
    – famargar
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 20:02
  • 1
    Btw, if you down voted my answer because of your ideology, please reconsider the rules of this site: we don't vote opinions, but relevance. The OP asked if salary in the US is negotiable. And I answered the truth
    – famargar
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 22:02
  • On the contrary, your answer contains the incorrect and ideological claim that ant salary is individually negotiable ("collectively negotiable only" means non-negotiable in the context of OP's question and of your own answer). You have not even qualified this to post-doc salaries in the US. You specifically insinuate this is the case in Europe, which is false. Edit that part and I'll un-downvote.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 22:32
  • Not sure I understand all of your comment. But I did edit the answer, glad to hear what you think of it
    – famargar
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 10:08

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