NOMICS has been offering students and professionals a comprehensive online resource for their
academic and career choices since 1998. Amongst the services it provides is an Annual Salary Report. The 2015 Report was published as our January issue went to press. Here is a summary of its main findings. Full details of the survey and of INOMICS’ other activities can be found at their website.1
The results of this report were compiled from information collected by an online questionnaire between February and April 2015. The questionnaire was advertised by social media and by email.
In all, 834 respondents from 92 countries took part in the survey. All were currently in employment, most of them in universities and representing different career stages from PhD student to full professor. The average age (just over 40) was higher than in the 2014 survey, meaning that respondents occupied on average slightly more senior and better-remunerated posts, making direct comparisons of average salaries between 2014 and 2015 somewhat perilous.
The age distribution of the respondents is shown in table 1. It also shows the wide geographical dispersion of respondents across the world, making regional salary comparisons feasible. The survey does not, however, take into account living costs which will differ substantially between regions.Table 2 shows the occupations of respondents and their distribution across very broad categories of employer.
This shows that the large majority of participants (76 per cent) currently work in a university setting, showing a strong representation of traditional academics in the survey. A further 11 per cent of participants currently work at a research institute, and 5 percent work for the government in some capacity. Finally, a smaller number of participants work in other settings: 3 per cent for an NGO or international organization; 2 per cent for a private company; 2 per cent in a consultancy; and 1 per cent for a bank.
Predictably, a large majority of respondents (76 per cent) of respondents work in economics. The main alternatives were accounting and finance (26 per cent) and 12 per cent in management.
Salaries by age and region
Respondents were asked for their current annual salaries in current US dollars. The results, by age and by region, are shown in Fig.1. As one might expect, the highest salaries (at any age) were earned in North America. For example, the youngest, 25-35, age group earned on average $81,000 which is more than half as much again as the same age group in Western Europe. Differentials at other ages are of a similar order of magnitude though, if anything, rather larger. The difference between North America and other regions is even larger, of course. It is also noticeable that salaries in North America appear to be steeply progressive with respect to age with salaries for the oldest age group about 2.5 times those for the youngest.
At the other extreme we have Eastern and South Eastern Europe, and Africa, where average salaries are the lowest. Overall the general level of salary is similar in both regions. Unfortunately, the data allows us to distinguish only four and three age groups, respectively. But it is noticeable that there is only a small age-related progression in E and SE Europe, where salaries for the oldest group are only about 1.5 times the salaries of the youngest. Even more striking is the situation in Africa where salaries initially rise between age groups and then decline.
In Asia, salaries increase sharply with age to begin with but remain equal for the two oldest age groups, at $50,000.
Salaries by position
Fig.2 shows the average salary of respondents in different positions and for a selection of countries (in US$).
Generally speaking, the USA comes out on top, as one might expect, with an average salary for full professors of $186,000. The one exception appears in the case of PhD candidates who are rewarded rather modestly in the US ($30,000). Studying for a PhD in Switzerland brings almost twice the income ($55,000). Germany (at $35,000) pushes the US into third place. In other positions, the US dominates and is generally followed by some combination of Canada, the UK and Germany, except in the case of ‘researcher’ where the UK comes in at sixth place. The lowest salaries, for countries reported in the survey, are paid in India.
Changes in salary 2014-15
The report also shows the change in salary for selected academic positions since the 2014 survey, for two regions, USA and Canada, and UK and Ireland. In the USA and Canada the situation for PhD candidates showed little change with the average salary around (US) $27,000 in both periods. For assistant and associated professors,however, there was a substantial increase of around 14 per cent ($86,000 to $98,000) for the former and 16 per cent ($100,000 to $116,000) for the latter.
In the UK and Ireland the situation was generally similar, though starting (and finishing) at lower levels than in the USAand Canada. The average reported salary for assistant professor rose from $59,000 to $76,000, while for associate professor it rose from $78,000 to $99,000. According to the survey, the average salary of a full professor in UK and Ireland rose from $100,000 to $127,000, a rise of 27 per cent which the report describes as ‘remarkable’.