Postdoc pay

michelle peterson michelle_peterson at
Thu Apr 27 18:12:45 EST 1995

In article <950426204604_97580593 at>, BrandonVt at wrote:

> Hi,
> I hope I can get some information and advice that will help 
> keep another woman scientist in the pipeline.
> I switched fields after I completed my PhD from an 
> agricultural related field to human genetics.  While I really
> enjoy the work I am doing in my postdoc, I was dismayed to
> learn the salary I would be paid compared to what I would have 
> expected as postdoc had I not changed fields.  I currently earn
> $20,000 per  year with a benefits package that costs me $100
> per month for health insurance.    This is at a major urban university in the
> Northeastern US.  In the department I left at Cornell University, an incoming
> postdoc could earn $26,000/year  with complete health insurance coverage.
>  Postdocs with the US Dept. of Agriculture start at about $33,000.  My boss
> assured me that the $20,000 I was offered was a competitve salary but being
> new to the field I have no contacts and no way to verify this.  We are fairly
> isolated in our lab and I have not met other postdocs to compare notes with.
>  I hope I can get some feedback from other postdocs or scientists that hire
> them as to what is a reasonable postdoc salary. 
> I hope to in the future secure my own funding but realize that this will take
> a year at the minimum and would like to get a feel for my position in the
> meantime.  Thanks for your input.
>                                                       Tina

It is not necessarily reasonable, but it is the norm.  NIH postdoc
salaries are that low, epecially first year; they increase upon
experience.  Private foundations are usually better -- the second year of
an MDA fellowship a couple of years ago was 28.000 -- but I've seen
nothing like the US Dep't. of Agriculture levels in academia.  Many grants
have institutional allowances that can be used for journals or health
insurance.  MD/PhDs command higher salaries; industry postdocs also pay
better.  Good luck and hang in there.  Michelle

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