Professors and junior professors receive their salary on the basis of the W salary scale. Their basic salary varies in each federal state. They may also be eligible for performance bonuses, which must be negotiated skillfully.
The W salary regulates the salary of appointed professors and was introduced in 2002 as a successor to the C salary. The professors' salary consists of their basic salary, a family allowance and additional performance bonuses. There are three levels of pay: W1 applies to junior professors, whereas grades W2 and W3 apply to all other professors with civil servant status.
The basic salary is determined by the federal states, provided that a professor has been appointed by a university or by the federal government itself, if he or she works at a federal institution. The basic salary is not affected by age. In Bavaria, Hesse, Saxony and at the federal level, employees move up to the next salary level after five to seven years, in the same way as the experience levels for research staff.
Professors' salaries can be boosted with additional performance bonuses. They are agreed during the job appointment and retention negotiations between the university and professors (see below). One exception is the legislature in the case of junior professors – they rarely benefit from such a salary increase; although these regulations have already been softened in some federal states.
Professors who are married or live in a registered partnership also receive a family allowance. The mothers and fathers among the professors also receive a further, child-related supplement for each child.
The job description will state whether a position is a junior professorship, a W2 or W3 professorship. W2 is paid at universities of applied sciences in the vast majority of cases. W3 is very rare among these types of employer. At universities, however, there are almost twice as many W3 professors as W2 professors. Particularly in the case of larger professorships and depending on the individual's reputation, a professor may be paid at W3.
Before the introduction of the W salary scale in 2002, professors' salaries were based on the C salary scale. The W salary scale abolished the seniority and lowered the basic salary. The benefit principle now applies in its place, and the additional performance bonuses have been introduced accordingly. These performance bonuses will be included in Appeal and leave negotiations and are the reason for immense differences in the salary of professors.
The basic salary for junior professors varies in each federal state and is based on the salary group W1. Hesse abolished the junior professorship in 2016 and introduced the so-called qualification professorship. This is also remunerated in accordance with W1. In most federal states, the basic salary remains the same for the duration of the junior professorship. Only Baden-Wuerttemberg and the Saarland initially pay a smaller amount and increase a professor's salary to the actual W1 level after three or two years. Saxony has a second salary grade for junior professors after a successful interim evaluation. Junior professors are required to pay income tax on their salary. On the other hand, no social contributions are charged. However, junior professors are responsible for arranging their own health and long-term care insurance.
|Baden-Wurttemberg||€4,909.04||First three years: 8% less|
|Berlin||€4,235.67||Of this, €200 allowance according to the Federal Civil Service Remuneration Act (Bundesbesoldungsgesetz)|
|Saarland||€4.331,53||First two years: €370 less|
|Second stage reached after extension of civil servant status|
The basic salaries for W2 and W3 professors vary greatly depending on the state. In most states, no salary levels are specified.
Only the German State, Bavaria, Hesse and Saxony reward professional experience as a professor with a regular salary increase after five or seven years.
|Federation||Level 1: €5.671,96*
Level 2: €6.005,60*
Level 3: €6.339,26
|Level 1: €6.339,26*
Level 2: €6.784,11*
Level 3: €7.228,97
|Bavaria||Level 1: €5.646,38€**
Level 2: €5.876,86*
Level 3: €6.222,55
|Level 1: €6.683,49**
Level 2: €6.913,94*
Level 3: €7.202,02 €
|Hesse||Level 1: €5.297,79**
Level 2: €5.497,29**
Level 3: €5.696,79**
Level 4: €5.896,29**
Level 5: €6.095,79
|Level 1: €5.874,12**
Level 2: €6.095,79**
Level 3: €6.328,54**
Level 4: €6.561,28**
Level 5: €6.791,87
|Saxony||Level 1: €5.562,88**
Level 2: €5.845,68**
Level 3: €6.128,47**
Level 4: €6.483,10
|Level 1: €6.267,00 **
Level 2: €6.638,85**
Level 3: €7.010,65**
Level 4: €7.465,11
|1)Brandenburg also pays basic benefits of €740.17 in salary groups W2 and W3|
|2)Bremen also pays basic benefits of €674.09 in salary groups W2 and W3|
|3)Hamburg also pays basic benefits of €674.64 in salary groups W2 and W3|
|4)Rhineland-Palatinate also pays minimum supplementary benefits of €330.40 in salary groups W2 and W3|
|*next level reached after 7 years|
|**next level reached after 5 years|
Like their colleagues, Professors at universities of applied sciences may also be remunerated according to salary groups W2 and W3. However, W3 at universities of applied science is rare. Additional performance bonuses are also possible here, but the scope for negotiation is much narrower than at a university. Those who intend to switch from a well-paid position in the private sector to a technical college should be aware of this.
With the introduction of the W salary, the federal states aimed to take the seniority of professors into account when determining their salaries. However, the German State, Bavaria, Hesse and Saxony provide salary levels that are linked to the experience levels of researchers. The German State and Bavaria differentiate between three salary levels, whereby Level 1 and Level 2 each mark seven years of experience. Hesse, on the other hand, provides for five salary scales, each with a five-year term. In Saxony, there are four stages, each with a five-year term.
The federal and state governments have defined a maximum age limit for full-time civil service. Anyone appointed to the professorship after reaching this limit is generally no longer licensed or employed as a member of staff. This means that the employee and employer pay contributions to the social security system on a pro rata basis. Salaried professors should therefore ensure that the net remuneration of these taxes is no less than that of professors working as civil servants. The employee share of social security contributions is currently around 19%.
The Federal Civil Service Remuneration Act (Bundesbesoldungsgesetz) distinguishes between
Appointment and retention benefits may be granted if a university has a particular interest in attracting or retaining a professor. They can be paid on a single occasion or monthly. They are agreed during the course of the appointment or retention negotiations.
The performance bonuses are also included in the appointment and retention negotiations. These are granted for special services, such as high external fundraising, publications in professional journals, a high number of exams. The maximum level of these additional benefits is governed by the salary legislation (Besoldungsgesetz), the national benefits regulations (Leistungsbezuegeverordnungen) and the respective guidelines of the universities.
The functional performance bonuses are in turn paid to those in senior positions within the context of academic self-government, such as rectors, presidents and deans. Some universities specify fixed rates, while others freely negotiate the level of these functional performance bonuses. Some countries pay additional basic benefits to ensure that they remain competitive in the science system. These are specified in the state's salary legislation, together with the amount to be paid. No additional services are as yet associated with these additional payments.
When the junior professorship was created, there was no provision for junior professors to receive performance bonuses. However, this principle is no longer as strictly applied in Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hamburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia.
The extent to which these additional bonuses are available is set out in the respective salary legislation of each state. According to this legislation, it is in particular possible for junior professors who have successfully raised third-party funds from private and non-public sources to claim a non-pensionable performance bonus. However, some states now also provide additional performance bonuses for special services in research, teaching and the promotion of young talent.
Similarly to the appointment performance bonuses for W2 and W3 professors, junior professors can receive a monthly special supplement, particularly if there are concerns that a post cannot be filled by a sufficiently qualified junior professor.
In addition, both the federal government and almost all federal states grant their junior professors a monthly probationary allowance of €260–285 following a successful interim evaluation.
If the W basic salary is increased as a result of new salary legislation, this also has an impact on the originally agreed performance-related allowances. These are not simply added to the new basic salary, but are offset. The respective billing key is defined in the respective state or the Federal Civil Service Remuneration Act (Bundesbesoldungsgesetz). The newly calculated total salary is often the same or only slightly higher than would be expected as a result of the actual increase in basic salary.
The same applies if professors in Bavaria, Hesse, Saxony and the federal government reach a new pay grade (none of the other states stipulate salary levels within the W2 and W3 pay scales). Consumption also occurs in these cases: The performance bonuses and increased basic salary are offset against each other. The German Higher Education Association considers this rule to be constitutionally questionable, but several courts have already confirmed current practice.
Full-time professors pay wage taxes, but they are not required to make social security contributions to the statutory health insurance funds. Instead, they arrange private health and long-term care insurance. Those who only become civil servants temporarily, such as junior professors, should ensure that they are well informed before arranging private health insurance, as it is not always possible to return to statutory insurance.
The pension or retirement pay received later in life is calculated on the basis of the last pay check received by a civil servant before retiring. Not all components of the professor's salary are pensionable and are therefore not taken into account in the calculation of their future pension.
In principle, the basic salary and married portion of the family allowance are pensionable, but not the additional performance bonuses. These must first be declared as pensionable and can usually only be accounted for in the pension up to a maximum of 40%. The actual percentage and pensionability in general are determined during the negotiations on performance bonuses, i.e. in the case of appointment and retention negotiations.