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State universities and publicly-funded research institutions will pay you in line with – or on the basis of – predefined salary scales.

What you will earn as a researcher in Germany will naturally depend on your specific situation – for example on your research profile and your experience. However, your expertise as a researcher or academic will be highly valued in Germany, and will therefore bring you a good salary.

State universities and publicly-financed research institutions will pay you in line with – or on the basis of – predefined salary scales. Professors may receive various additional payments on top of their basic salary, for example for particular responsibilities that are negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Germany has a federal system. The individual federal states are responsible for paying their university lecturers and academic staff. Consequently, salaries vary from one state to another. Salaries in industry can differ considerably from those in academia. If you are employed at management level, no set pay scale will normally apply to you, so you will negotiate your own salary.

As a rule, professors are paid according to salary groups W3 or W2, while junior professors are in salary group W1. The university itself decides whether to establish a W3, W2 or junior professorship.

  • Junior professor (W1): 4,600 – 5,300 euros
  • Professor (W2): 5,400 – 6,700 euros
  • Senior professor (W3): 6,300 – 7,600 euros

Monthly basic salary, gross, rounded, 2021; additional payments may apply. Salaries vary according to federal state.

Source: German Association of University Professors and Lecturers

Postdoctoral researchers at state universities and publicly-funded research institutions are paid in line with the collectively agreed salary scale. Their pay grade will depend on their responsibilities and experience.

  • Postdoctoral researcher*: 4,600 – 4,800 euros
  • Head of independent junior research group**: roughly 6,100 euros

Monthly basic salary, gross, rounded, 2021

The ranges given indicate the gross basic salary based on the collective agreement that applies in most German states for the following pay grades:
*Remuneration Group 13 Grade 3 – Remuneration Group 14 Grade 2
** Remuneration Group 14 Grade 5 – Remuneration Group 15 Grade 4

Source: Tarifgemeinschaft deutscher Länder

Good to know:

  • In Germany, professors are remunerated in accordance with what is known as W-Besoldung, a salary scale for scholars (W stands for "Wissenschaft", which means scholarship or science). This salary scale provides for additional performance-related payments on top of the basic salary.
  • Postdocs and research associates at state universities and publicly-funded research institutions are paid according to a salary scale agreed between the federal states or the federal government and the unions. Public-sector employees at state level are paid according to the TV-L scale, while the TVöD/Bund scale applies to federal employees.
  • The Academic Fixed-Term Contract Act (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz) generally applies to academic staff at state universities and research institutions. It stipulates that academics can be given fixed-term contracts for a maximum period of twelve years: as a rule up to six years before PhD and a further six after (or nine in the case of medicine). This does not apply if the fixed-term post is funded by a third party – in this case there are no maximum periods.

More information

Information about the salaries of university teaching staff: > W-Portal (only in German)

Current salaries for young researchers (TV-L > Anlage B) with the TdL, the collective bargaining association of the federal states: > Tarifverträge (only in German)

Information from Germany’s education sector union, the "Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft": > Tarifverträge in der Wissenschaft (only in German)