Salary researchers Germany
What do researchers earn?
Researchers are employed by a university or research institution, and their salary is set on the basis of a collective agreement. The salary of researchers depends on the relevant professional experience. The civil service collective agreements provide experience levels for this purpose. If you are planning to change to another institution, you should check whether this change would negatively affect your salary.
Which collective agreements regulate the salary of researchers at universities and research institutes in Germany?
Researchers usually enter into an employment contract with a university or research institution. This large group includes doctoral students and postdocs, but also junior research group leaders. The salary of researchers is established in a collective agreement negotiated between the public sector employer and the unions. This is either based on the collective agreement for civil service (TVoeD), which applies to the German federal state and municipalities, or the collective agreement for the civil service in the individual federal states (TV-L). A special case is Hessen, which is not a member of the collective bargaining community of the federal states and has concluded its own collective agreement with the unions, the TV-H. The rate paid by the specific institution is specified in the job advertisement.
The TV-L or TV-H always applies to the universities. In the case of non-university research institutions, whether a research associate is to be paid according to TV-L, TV-H or TVoeD depends on their funding by the federal government or the state. In addition to the employed academic staff, the position of "Academic Council" is also available at universities and research institutions, which is primarily reserved for post-doctoral students. In this position, the researcher usually has a temporary civil service contract and is paid on the basis of the salary scale A13 in accordance with the Federal Civil Service Remuneration Act (Bundesbesoldungsgesetz) and the respective national regulations.
Salary of researchers at federal and local institutions: TVoeD
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Research Fellow, Research Assistant, Research Associate
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What are experience levels?
Within each pay band, a distinction is made between the levels of professional experience relevant to the individual's current responsibilities. Since 2018, six experience levels have applied to all collective bargaining agreements with increasing lengths of time spent at each level. Experience level 1 is reserved for beginners in the respective pay band. Researchers reach Level 2 after just one year, but this period must be within a single employment contract. On the other hand, it takes researchers ten years to reach Level 5.
Levels of experience in collective agreements and when researchers achieve these levels
What happens when an individual moves to a higher pay band?
If, for example, junior research group leaders take over a project with more research responsibility, they are usually also classified in a higher pay band. It is theoretically possible for a research assistant to receive a lower salary than previously, as they would actually be required to start again at Experience level 1. However, the collective agreements stipulate that this should never happen, and that staff should be transferred to a higher level of experience with at least the same salary.
What additional salary benefits are there for research associates in Germany?
Research associates are civil servants, and their collective agreement provides for an annual special payment. This replaces the former paid leave and Christmas bonus. It amounts to between 33%–60% of their average monthly salary, depending on the pay band and experience level. There are also differences between the old and new federal states. Additional benefits are also be paid to research associates, e.g. when they are particularly successful with the acquisition of third-party funds. However, these additional payments are not as common in some of the federal states. Only the TV-H agreement provides for a child allowance – a remnant from the federal employee tariff BAT, which has now been replaced by TVoeD and TV-L.
What happens to my experience level change if I move to a different research institution?
When researchers move to another university or research institution, they do not go back to the start in terms of their level of experience. The relevant professional experience and therefore also the time already spent at the respective level are recognised. However, this must be requested. If the new employer is particularly interested in hiring a specific researcher, they may even be able to negotiate a higher pay band or even move to a higher experience level earlier than scheduled. Nevertheless, researchers may experience a loss of wages when switching between different collective agreements and levels of experience. It is therefore important to check how this change will affect your salary before switching to another public employer.
What happens to my level of experience when I go abroad, am unemployed or take a break from work?
Research work often requires researchers to spend some time abroad or seek scholarship financing. Generally, Relevant professional experience at a research institution abroad is generally recognised in the sector, provided that they had a contract of employment while working abroad. On the other hand, periods funded by a scholarship are only considered to be "beneficial". They may be regarded as professional experience, but this is not guaranteed. Maternity leave, paid leave and incapacity for work up to a maximum of 39 weeks are not considered to be interruptions of the term spent at the respective stage under the collective agreements.
However, parental leave is not taken into account. Employees who take a break from their research work to look after a new-born child cannot claim that time when moving to the next level of experience. If a researcher stops working for several years or works for a non-public employer, they may even be moved to a lower category and consequently face a reduction in salary. The collective agreements refer to this as "detrimental interruptions".
academics - July 2018
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