Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

November 8, 2017

The postdoc salary range with cost of living (situation probably worst than reported)

Filed under: postdoc,science — Razib Khan @ 3:14 pm


Nature has an article, Pay for US postdocs varies wildly by institution. True, but as Matt Hahn, professor of biology at Indian University in Bloomington (cost of living 93% of the USA average) observed there isn’t any correction for cost of living. The researcher who dug through the data actually posted it online, so I decided to correct that oversight.

I took the institutions with N > 20, and looked up the cost of living in Best Places. The plot above is messy, but you can see that lots of institutions are paying a standard median salary of around $47,500, no matter the cost of living.

The correlation between cost of living and postdoc salary is 0.39. The weighted correlation is 0.48. These are pretty modest. That means you can find a really good situation, or a really bad one (also, institution reputation matters, there are some gems which pay well and have great reputations from what I can tell!).

Also, I’m pretty sure that the situation is worse than the numbers above suggest. Looking at the list of universities it seems there’s a bias for institutions at high cost of living locations not to want to report their salary data I think. Aside from UCSB the whole UC system denied the attempt to get data, and I don’t see Stanford, Columbia, or Harvard on the list.

The full table is below the fold, but adjusted for cost of living UCSB postdocs get $20,866 per year. In contrast, Michigan State, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and Wayne State University postdocs make more than $60,000 per year when you adjust. Stanford isn’t on the list, but online it says Stanford postdocs make between the low $50,000 to low $60,000 range, which seems reasonable for life sciences, though definitely poverty wages where the university is located (though if you are in a lucrative field it can be more, and depending on your supervisor outside consulting is a possibility, though good luck living in Silicon Valley on a $100,000 yearly gross income if you have a family, as many postdocs do).

School N Median salary Cost of Living Adjusted
University of California Santa Barbara 283 $53,000 254 $20,866
University of Washington Seattle 1070 $50,772 177 $28,685
Boston University 297 $49,200 170 $28,941
University of Colorado Boulder 22 $52,000 178 $29,213
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 65 $27,515 89 $30,916
State University of New York Stony Brook 31 $47,000 139 $33,813
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 432 $47,484 131 $36,247
University of Colorado Denver 314 $47,476 128 $37,091
Rutgers University 539 $46,000 123 $37,398
University of Michigan Ann Arbor 1159 $47,054 122 $38,569
State University of New York Albany 20 $39,945 101 $39,550
Purdue University 407 $38,896 96 $40,517
University of Texas Austin 464 $48,000 117 $41,026
University of Minnesota Twin Cities 697 $44,804 109 $41,105
University of Massachusetts Medical School 360 $44,556 107 $41,641
University of Virginia 302 $47,500 113 $42,035
University of Utah 387 $47,484 108 $43,967
University of Texas San Antonio 53 $42,000 93 $45,161
University of Maryland College Park 448 $56,000 122 $45,902
University of Texas Arlington 49 $45,000 97 $46,392
University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston 229 $47,476 102 $46,545
North Carolina State University 431 $47,476 102 $46,545
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center 150 $47,844 102 $46,906
University of Iowa 241 $47,476 101 $47,006
Texas A&M 185 $46,350 97 $47,784
University of Cincinnati 134 $41,157 86 $47,857
Iowa State University 43 $47,476 99 $47,956
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston 137 $47,484 98 $48,453
University of Texas Southwestern 527 $47,268 95 $49,756
Florida State University 140 $47,659 95 $50,167
University of Arizona 275 $47,659 95 $50,167
University of Texas El Paso 43 $42,191 84 $50,227
University of Texas Dallas 53 $48,000 95 $50,526
University of South Florida 121 $47,659 94 $50,701
University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio 52 $47,476 93 $51,049
University of Indiana Bloomington 154 $47,476 93 $51,049
University of Florida 606 $47,476 92 $51,604
University of Maryland Baltimore 267 $47,244 90 $52,493
University of Indiana Indianapolis 200 $47,476 90 $52,751
The Ohio State University 617 $47,484 84 $56,529
Michigan State University 469 $47,476 78 $60,867
University of Maryland Baltimore County 24 $55,688 90 $61,876
Wayne State University 110 $45,000 72 $62,500

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