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Contractor work for a photonics startup: Salary?

  1. Apr 1, 2013 #1
    Hi Folks,

    I am defending my doctorate in physics this June and was offered, very informally, a position at a photonics startup. The company is very small so only does contract work (read: no benefits). They asked me what I wanted for compensation and I have no idea what ask for or what the terms of the contract should be. Google so far is unhelpful. Anyone have any experience with this kind of work? What is a reasonable wage to ask for? What are normal terms?

    Thank you in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF.

    Can you say more about the company? What does it mean to be a startup, and only do contracting work? Do you mean they are a professional consulting/contracting company, and they are new? What kind of clients would you be working for in the end?

    What level of experience do you have in the photonics field? Do you know what kind of a contract position would fit your background well? Or would you me doing more general physics consulting work, and not necessarily in your specialty?

    If you have specialty knowledge and experience that fits well with what the client needs, then I'd guess that the cost to the client could be in the $100/hour range. If you would be doing more general physics consulting work, then I'd guess the cost to the customer should be more like half that.

    Disclaimer -- I'm not directly involved in physics work or physics consultants. I'm basing my estimates on what our company pays for specialty consultants (in engineering), and what I used to charge back when I was actively consulting.
  4. Apr 4, 2013 #3
    Hi Berkeman,

    Thank you for your reply. The company is about 5 years old, and is very small. They only hire people via contract work to avoid having to give people benefits.The company both produces a product used by anyone who does anything with photonics, including NIST. They also provide consulting services to larger companies. This position is a good fit for me as I worked extensively with their product (not their actual product, but a similar product made by someone else) in my graduate lab. They want to conduct a series of experiments and write up some software to analyzing the results of these experiments. They also want me to setup a clean room and do some clean room work for them, which I also am experienced in doing.

    I am not looking at this offer as a permanent position. I am trying to switch fields to academic advising or project management. But this is the only offer on the table so I figured I better take to avoid having to be a nanny.
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