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Research professor

  1. May 14, 2005 #1
    How much money does a university research professor generally earn per year?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2005 #2

    mathwonk

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    every professor does research, but the title "research professor" sometimes designates one who teaches less and does more research and receives higher pay.

    average math professor pay scales can be found on the AMS website or by searching for them.

    pay is often linked to grant production, in which case areas with more available grant money are favored, such as for biological sciences and chemistry.

    professors often make more also in physics and especially comp.sci. and stat than pure math.

    pay also varies between public and private institutions, with private ones often making more. pay also differs among institutions according to their rankings as to stature.

    In math at the top 25 public doctoral granting research institutions a year ago (GROUP I), the median full professor salary was about 98,000 dollars.

    but at GROUP II schools it was about 82,000 dollars.

    Salaries are lower in the southeast than national averages.

    In some states all salaries of state employees including university professors are a matter of public record and can be looked up by anyone.


    since the recent downturn of the US economy, salaries are no longer as much of a magnet for foreign talent as they have been historically. E.g. a few years ago British math professor salaries were much less than US ones, but now in some cases are said to be far higher by people familiar with them. This could result soon in a reverse brain drain, and is one unfortunate outcome of recent national priorities of the Bush administration.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2005
  4. May 14, 2005 #3

    Dr Transport

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    At many universities a Research Professor makes more than a normal faculty member, but they exist solely on research grants, i.e. NO TENURE, so when they run out of money they are out of a job. My advisor was a research professor, after 9-11 the US govt cut reseach funding to put it into other areas, he consequently was out of a job by the end of the month and has not found another semi-permanent position. He could consequently retire, earlier than he wanted, but has never recovered financially.

    My suggestion would be to avoid taking a research faculty spot if possible.
     
  5. May 14, 2005 #4
    is that US or CDN or UK?
     
  6. May 15, 2005 #5

    mathwonk

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    If 80,000 sounds like a lot of money, compare that to the price of a house, an assisted living home, medical care, or top college tuition.

    in the early 1940's my dad was a simple government employee but earned almost 1/2 the wartime purchase price of our house per year. that same house today is worth over three times my salary as a senior full professor.



    the content of dr transports advice was to avoid untenured soft money jobs. in some places there exist tenured research professor jobs, the best of all possible worlds.



    the gist of things is that professors in the us make a decent wage, although not what their compatriots in many business and professional areas make.

    also many professors at least historically, were not in it for the money. when i was hired i did not even ask about such mundane matters as retirement packages, historical pattern of raises, opportunity for prompt promotion, opportunity for summer work, IRA plans, ....nothing.

    not coincidentally i found myself at a university where those rewards were minimal, because i was seduced by the up front starting salary. even that was low, but seemed high in comparison to my graduate stipend. i was unaware of the action of inflation since i had become a grad student.

    as a result i actually returned to work after 3 years of hard (and poverty level) study for a PhD, only to earn effectively the same salary I had enjoyed without one.

    this all becomes more interesting when a professor has a family and finds out his kids are bright and deserve to go to top schools, but he cannot afford to send them there.

    the merit scholarships of the 60's are gone, or dwindled to a tiny fraction of what they were then.

    one enormous perq of a few top schools is free or discounted tuition for profesors' children. ask about such things, as that raises the pay hugely. tuitition and fees to a school like harvard or stanford for one or two kids can set you back literally hundreds of thousands of after tax dollars.

    we are currently somewhat back in a climate like the 30's, where rich kids have more options than poor smart kids. this is the result of current political choices by the electorate.


    so become a professor if you love the work, not for the salary. there will be many things you cannot afford as a professor, and if you are a hard worker, there will be many frustrations at dealing with many less determined people as students.


    but if you can take satisfaction from helping people, not only the gifted and hard working, but all who come to you, and if you live for the occasional intellectually stimulating conversation, and long to add something significant to store of knowledge in some deep area, and enjoy the flexible hours [you work almost all the time, but on more or less your schedule], it can be a good life.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2005
  7. May 15, 2005 #6

    jtbell

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    I think this must be pretty common. We're no Harvard or Stanford, but children of our faculty members can go to school here without paying tuition. We also participate in a "tuition exchange" program with other similar schools, so that in principle at least, the kids can go to those other schools instead. I think in this situation there are rules intended to balance things out so that one school doesn't end up forfeiting significantly more tuition money than the others. I don't have any kids so I don't know all the details of this perk, but many of our faculty kids do study here. A few years ago the son of one of our psychology professors graduated with a double major in physics and math, and the daughter of one of my department colleagues started this past year, planning on a biology major, I think.

    And then your students graduate and some of them start off making as much money as you do, after 20 years of teaching experience. But depending on where you are, it can be a decent living, if not a luxurious one. My wife and I both teach at a small college in the southeast USA. Salaries are low, but so are housing costs and taxes. My mother just sold her one-bedroom apartment in Florida for 3-4 times what our three-bedroom house would probably bring if we sold it today. We can afford to travel on a "budget level" regularly, which is a good thing because my wife teaches German and French so she really needs to visit Europe regularly.
     
  8. May 16, 2005 #7

    vanesch

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    Well, honestly, to European standards, that IS a lot of money ! Rough estimate in France, a full professor in the middle of his carreer, must make something like 30-40 thousend Euros/year, after deduction of social security but before taxes.

    cheers,
    Patrick.
     
  9. May 16, 2005 #8

    Monique

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    No way, a PhD makes 28k, a research assistant 30k, a postdoc 32k, a junior university teacher 41k, a full professor 55-80k Euros/year.

    1 Euro is 1.26 USD, so that would be 70-100k USD/year for a full professor.

    I pulled those numbers from an academic job listing site for biological sciences, so it might be different for people in physics.
     
  10. May 16, 2005 #9

    vanesch

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    I got my numbers a few (3-4) years back out of a booklet about public teaching salaries in France. Actually my numbers were a bit too low, and yours are a bit too high !

    http://www.cidj.com/Viewdoc.aspx?docid=456&catid=1

    There it is said that for a full professor, when he's just promoted, he gets 36KEuro, and at the end of his carreer around 68 - 76 KEuro. Somehow I suspect these to be "brute salary" numbers of which you have to subtract about 20% social security stuff.

    I don't know the numbers in Germany, I think they are higher. I have absolutely no idea what they are in the UK, for example. However, I know that a junior university teacher in Italy makes about 25KEuro.

    This is just the base salary of course, it doesn't include all "extra benefits" from grants, consultancy, intellectual property and all that. It is what you get when you teach and sit on your office desk chair :-)

    cheers,
    patrick.
     
  11. May 16, 2005 #10

    Monique

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    Those are the brute salaries they are offering here in the Netherlands. Taxes still need to be subtracted, ofcourse taxes here are way higher than in the US.. I guess costs of living are so too.
     
  12. May 16, 2005 #11

    Monique

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    Well, here it says in your link: "En début de carrière, vous percevez un salaire annuel brut de 36 500 €. En fin de carrière, votre salaire oscille entre 68 800 et 76 200 €."

    So that would agree with my numbers, wouldn't it?
     
  13. May 16, 2005 #12

    mathwonk

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    Vanesch, You may be partly ignoring the most basic fact about money. I.e. the numerical value means little. The only thing important is the relation of those numbers to the expenses of items you need to buy.

    As a child, as I said, my dad earned about 1/2 the price of his house annually, whereas a professor today often earns less than 1/5 the price of a modest house. On the west coast, the salary may be less than 1/10 the price of an even more modest house. It is conceivable to me that housing in Europe is even more costly.

    To compare salaries in Europe and US you must also compare cost of things like healthcare and education. In the US a single serious illness can force even middle class people into bankruptcy.

    Good education in Europe is said to be often cheap or free, whereas in the US, sending two children to private college can cost 10 years of a professor's after tax earnings. Tuition for a relatively inexpensive private elementary, middle, or high school here for two can cost literally a professor's entire salary for another 10 years or more. This is nonetheless chosen at times simply because at the public schools some students carry dangerous weapons. Private school tuition can seem like worthwhile life insurance.

    Since effective public transportation is almost non existent in many areas in the US, one must commute to work at ones own unsubsidized expense.

    In France professors' salaries at least used to be tied to the number of children. Our university has lost some professors with large families to jobs at universities in France for this reason in the last two decades. They apparently are comfortable in France, but literally could not afford to live even in a small relatively inexpensive locale in the US.

    I am not sure which place is easier to live on a professors salary, but it is clear that salary numbers alone do not reveal enough information to decide.

    The biggest expenses in US life are probably housing, healthcare (including old age care), and higher education. It is anticipated today that many elders in the US, even those with substantial savings, will exhaust their estates in paying for their own end of life care. Is this the situation in Europe?

    Other quality of life issues are also a consideration. (According to Jacques Chirac) Europe has lower child mortality, higher literacy rates,....

    From what you know, would you choose an average professor's job in the US over one in France? What factors would be crucial in deciding?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2005
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