Tuesday, March 02, 2010

You & $

It is clear from comments to this blog that, whenever the topic of faculty salary arises, there is a wide range of salaries represented by readers, even just among faculty readers.

There are of course authoritative compilations of average faculty salary by rank, discipline, university etc. (see The Chronicle of Higher Education or links in comments to yesterday's post), but what is the salary range of faculty who read FSP and who are willing to click on a button in a poll?

This poll does not account for science vs. humanities vs. social science, or life sciences vs. physical sciences, or any other subdivision that typically influences salary. Let's also ignore summer salary. Even when I put some summer salary in a budget, in many cases I end up spending it on something else anyway.

The requested data below refers to 9-month FACULTY salary, the typical salary base for a professor in the US. I know that professors in some other countries get paid for 12 (or even 13) months/year, so if you want to vote it would be best if you calculated your salary for only 9 of those months.

The results of this poll will not indicate anything representative about academic salaries in general, of course. From previous polls, it seems that the FSP readership consists largely of people younger than FSP -- does that mean the results will be on the low-ish side? Or will there be a fair number of high salaries owing to the presence of senior engineering faculty and football coaches? I have no idea what the results will be. Hence the poll:

What is your 9 month salary in US $?
$30,000-39,999 (or less)
$40,000-49,999
$50,000-59,999
$60,000-69,999
$70,000-79,999
$80,000-89,999
$90,000-99,999
$100,000-109,999
$110,000-119,999
$120,000-129,999
130,000-139,999
140,000-149,999
$150,000 (or more)
pollcode.com free polls

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Many U.S. faculty in the biomedical sciences are paid on a 12-month basis. In light of yesterday's controversy, wouldn't it make more sense to poll for total annual salary derived from faculty duties?

estraven said...

As a European Professor, the hardest part is to figure out my pre-tax, pre-healthcare, pre-socialsecurity income (which I never see). Luckily my administration just did this for me, as part of a grant application. I'm always amazed at how much money I supposedly get.

Looking at the result of the poll, seems to me some readers are either seriously poor or graduate students. The spike near my salary seems to indicate that I'm not the only full professor reading here regularly.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

FYI, all tenure-track medical school faculty get paid 12 month salaries. It's not just some foreign curiosity.

Joseph said...

9-month salary? Could you make the scale a little lower please?

EC said...

I don't quite get the hang up with the 9 month factor (I'm not in academia). A lot of workers do not get paid year round, depending on the nature of their work. For instance, where I live, K-12 teachers get paid for the 10 months that they are officially working and they can choose to receive that pay over the 10 months or stretched over 12, for personal budgeting reasons. That being said, most good teachers do prep over the summer but don't state "this is my 10 month salary", it is simply their salary. Other seasonal workers are in similar situations.

Therefore, for faculty to ignore "summer salary" that they are receiving through whatever means, or for faculty outside of the US to calculte what there salary would be for 9 months instead of the 12 they are receiving, sort of dimimnishes the validity of the poll in terms of determining how much money faculty are truly taking home

Anonymous said...

my particular bone of contention is promotion....

If you had known in advance I would have suggested a salary divided by years in tenure track or tenured job (or equivalent). This would have evened out some of the natural progression in salaries with experience.

Anonymous said...

I love a good poll. :)

At med schools in the US (the only place I've been for grad school, postdoc and as a prof...) 12-month salaries are the norm. Is this just a med school thing?? I was surprised when you referred to 9-month salary as the typical base salary in the US...perhaps I am just stuck in my little med school bubble (or do I feel another poll coming on?). :)

amy said...

Humanities. Assistant Prof. Starting salary 44,000 plus benefits. After 6 years I'm now at 45,000. Whoopee! Not complaining, though, especially since I've got family members in the business world who've just seen their jobs outsourced.

Ann said...

That's interesting and generous what you say about summer salary. I dont know any other faculty member who doesn't prioritize summer salary. I had always taken it for granted that if you have a grant and you do research in the summer, you take summer salary. I think if I suggested to someone that they forgo summer salary to pay another student they would give me a pretty strange look.

Anonymous said...

I'd love a parallel poll asking what stage in their career voters are (not linked to salary, just to get an idea of your readership. I have guesses based on the poll data but may be way off. I am betting lots of postdocs and starting asst profs.

Mark P

BB said...

I calculated 9 months of my 12 month salary to answer the poll (biomedical faculty).

female Science Professor said...

Although I hope this blog has relevance to other disciplines, I write as a professor of the physical sciences. My colleagues and I receive a salary from the university for 9 months. Despite having pretty good grant funding for my research and researchers, in recent years I am lucky if I have 1-2 weeks of summer salary. In the collective experience of my colleagues, one month of summer salary is not uncommon, and a few with diverse sources of grants make it to 2 months. These numbers change for an individual from year to year, and many of my colleagues take no summer salary. Owing to this wide variation, the relevant basis for comparison in an FSP-centric poll is therefore the 9 month salary.

Anonymous said...

It does not make sense that you are waving away part of the variance that is actually relevant to the construct at hand.

The dependent measure of interest is: how much money does a faculty member make in a year?

Given the wide variation in summer funding, as well as variation in salary structure, it makes more sense simply to inquire total compensation for the Calendar Year 2009.

EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy said...

What? Don't post-doc get to play? Grad students?

Mind you, none of my grad student pay rates appear, but my nominal post-doc salaries are on that list. Like Estraven, though I on have to look at paperwork to find out how much I "make".

Anonymous said...

It appears that I'm in the upper-most quartile, despite being a lowly 2nd year Asst Prof. Is that because my field pays particularly well, or because there are a lot of non-TT/non-faculty voting?

(My field does pay pretty well, but surely not so well that I would be making more than Assoc and full Profs in other fields.)

female Science Professor said...

There will be a faculty summer salary poll in tomorrow's post. If you are interested in polls that focus on grad/postdoc salaries and create such a poll or polls on your own blog, please post a link in the comments here.

Kevin said...

"That's interesting and generous what you say about summer salary."

I'm another faculty member who has more often than not given up my summer salary in order to support more grad students. Currently, it is a moot question, as I have no funding for me or my students. They are mostly supported by a combination of TA positions and departmental funds---I have just my regular salary and a teaching load twice what any other faculty in the department has.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:52, you would be amazed at the variation in salaries both within and across departments. Salary inversions seem to be common, with more recently hired people making a huge amount more than old timers, even old timers with higher rank. And these differences get even more astounding when you compare across schools.

I happen to know a couple fresh-out-of-postdoc hires at our med school make as much as the most highly paid person in my basic science department in the undergraduate college, which is 3X more than what I make. Of course, all of this information is highly confidential, at least at private schools, but it comes out in grant applications.

Anonymous said...

As you're first commenter says, many/most med school faculty 1) are paid a 12 month salary and 2) supplement their salary using a funding scheme where they get additional salary for their research work. 3) are required to raise a proportion of their salary funds via grant dollars.

I think these factors hugely affect the generality of a poll like this one and make comparisons difficult.

Perhaps you should have another one, where people report all the salary they get from being a professor, say, for the 2009 tax year. This sum would represent what they actually got paid, rather than a projection.

Anonymous said...

Though I have no data to back it up, I've been under the impression that US professors are on average payed more than European professors. Might it be that their 9 months pay equals the European 12 months? In that case, I think an "annual salary" makes more sense. Across countries it will be hard to compare given taxes and benefits differences, etc.

chall said...

I think in general it would be interesting to know what FSP readers earn... just to see if we are all "low income" or whatever...

some kind of chart of "how much salary" and "how many years after grad school"?

Anonymous said...

Research faculty here; 10 years out of PhD. My 9-month equivalent would be 42k, soon to be 46k, but I'm actually on a 12-month salary. Using summer salary to pay a student or other expenses would be an absolute last resort - that what TAships are for.

John V said...

Interesting how much discussion focuses on the 9 vs 12-month basis, when the major salary factors are undergrad vs grad vs post-doc vs faculty.

It mirrors the disproportionate attention paid to whether we are 10% under the dept average or 10% over, with corresponding inferences about status.

A friend of mine coming back from a job in Japan to a job in the US listed his 12-month salary on some paperwork. The school hiring him thought it was his 9-month salary, and accidentally paid him 33% more than it meant to, and didn't discover it for quite a while.

Joseph Delaney said...

It seems reasonable to me to use a nine-month salary (75% of a 12 month salary) as a basis of comparison; more direct would be hourly wage plus months per year of guaranteed funding. Even then I am leery of cross national comparisons. I have worked in both Canada and the US -- it's tricky to compare salaries given differences in city infrastructure, tax rates, exchange rates and government programs.

amy said...

Life sciences. 2nd year asst prof at teaching-oriented mid-size midwestern uni. Base salary in the low 50s.

Summer salary helps, of course, but it's not a guarantee. And I'm a relative oddball in my department for having summer salary through a research grant. Most of my colleagues teach in the summer to augment their base salary.

OverEngineered said...

For grad students and post docs that are feeling left out, I've posted an equivalent poll on my blog.

Principle Investigator said...

I thought the poll as written is quite clear that only individuals with faculty appointments (NOT grad students or postdocs) should respond. Even so, the low numbers do not surprise me at all. Starting assistant professors, even in t-t positions, do not get paid all that much in most places, even in the US. There are exceptions, of course, especially at prestigious places in expensive urban areas. Relative to the general population of my rural county, I make a damned good salary, but it would be pitiful in any of the cities where I was trained.

Anonymous said...

Agricultural related faculties are also paid on a 12-month basis.

Anonymous said...

At my PUI, where I am in my first year as a TT assist. prof., I am paid a 9-month salary spaced evenly out over 12-months, and this is the number I put in the poll (mid 50s). For me, whether I include my "extra" summer salary (based on teaching extra summer courses or mentoring student research or paying myself out of my modest research grants) or not, my FSP polling bubble will not change unless it is a very busy summer.

I will say that I interviewed at multiple locations, and the highest salary job offer I received offered a starting (9-month) salary in the mid 80s. However, when comparing cost of living in both locations, my current salary (mid 50s) is actually worth a higher quality of life - not surprising to most of us, but still, absolute numbers don't mean a whole lot.

(For point of reference to earlier career readers, my 12 month postdoc salary was in the mid 30s, and my grad student salary, in an extremely high cost of living area, was in the very low 20s.)

Anonymous said...

I have been a full professor since 1980, in math. my salary broke into six figures earlier this century, and is approaching 120K for nine months. I am a little surprised that this puts me so high in the ranking here, since I am still below the median salary for full professors at my institution.

kelli said...

I am also pretty surprised that math salaries are so high. I mean, I expected them to be high compared to liberal arts departments, but I naively assumed that other sciences were basically on par with us.

As a grad student, my salary is around 20k (8 academic months and automatic summer support), and I have very generous support for travel. My postdoc fellowship will pay 55k (9 academic months and 2 summer months), and again, I'll have plenty of money for conferences, etc.

I just finished application season, and most postdocs salaries in math seem to fall in the 45k-60k range. There are definitely some that pay more; I don't know of any that pay less than 40k.

SamanthaScientist said...

Man, that's depressing.

Kris said...

@kelli sounds like I should quit and go back to being a (better paid) postdoc!

Janice said...

A boatload of seniority, tenure, promotion and a faculty union that's helped pull my salary quite a ways up from where I started, way back in the early days at just under 40k CDN (that would've been somewhere around 33k in US$ at the exchange rate of the time) even though I'm a historian and not in a discipline that actually pays a salary premium for faculty recruitment and retention.

Anonymous said...

let's see. 15k - 6k (tuition)... I am at 9K CAN per year!

I receive no summer stipend, yet am expected to do research full time and pay tuition. Great. Am I the one with the worst deal?

Oh, the joys of being a grad student.

Doctor Pion said...

Nothing surprising in those poll data. They match pretty well what AIP surveys show once you include everything from top-quartile R1 to small regional comprehensive universities.

I'll defend the 9-month choice for several reasons: it applies to every physics department I know of, it also applies to the CC where I currently teach, and med schools are anomalous in many respects, including having faculty that are paid like football coaches.

The 9-month salary is the only one you are guaranteed (modulo furloughs) to get. Funding agencies used to give 2 months summer salary as the norm (in my youth) but most hold to 1 month these days. As FSP notes, some faculty trade their summer salary for something else, such as students or post docs. I assume that is why I know some grant-supported R1 faculty who teach in the summer to make ends meet. I actually have more flexibility than they do, since I can increase my income significantly by adding summer classes and/or teaching overload classes during a regular semester. I only have to worry about enrollment demand and my own time, not a funding agency.

Kelli reminds me of the day when there were lots of highly paid post doc positions, far more than there were going to be faculty positions. The next two big steps are getting a faculty job at a place comparable to where you got your PhD (rare) and getting a grant approved to get that summer salary. Neither is as easy as getting a post doc. Just ask yourself, how many post docs are hired each year in your current program, and how does that compare to the number of faculty hired there?

Anonymous said...

Kelli: in math, we don't have the overheads of other sciences, but we still get NSF funding (we're the cheap ones, even with lots of travel). Also, math postdocs typically have salaried faculty appointments involving a fair amount of teaching, instead of working in someone's lab and being paid by their grant. I think both factors mean we get higher postdoc salaries.

plam said...

I also thought that I'd note that the minimum salary for an Assistant Professor at my university is $66k CAD ($64k USD) over 12 months; Assoc is $80k, and Full is $102k. We get 12-month salaries, so it doesn't really make sense to talk about 9-month salaries; if you're in a field where you're likely to get a minimum salary, you're also likely to not have grant support for the summer, I'd think.

Susan B. Anthony said...

That's a right purty Gaussian distribution there. FSP, did you vote?

Anonymous said...

I didn't answer the poll because I'm research faculty but I am in a physical sciences field that is on the generous side and I do hardware which is on the highly paid side. My 12 month salary is ~85K.

Anonymous said...

As a postdoc making $60k, I'm now sort of wishing I could just hold onto this job forever...

AcademicLurker said...

It should be noted that, although Med. school faculty are paid 12 month salaries, we are also expected to cover much of that (at my school, 50%, more at other places) from grants.

If you don't manage to do that pre-tenure, you're out. I don't know what happens post-tenure, but I suspect that the administration has ways of making life unpleasant for those who aren't covering the expected amount.

Hope said...

@Susan B. Anthony: That's a right purty Gaussian distribution there.

Really? Because it’s not even symmetric….