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 earn you a good salary.

Confident young Indian woman alone at a desk on a laptop. A woman that is happy about receiving her salary in Germany.

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 specific responsibilities that are negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Salaries are adjusted for inflation from time to time.

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, set pay scales will usually not apply to you, and you will negotiate your own salary.

How much does a postdoc earn?

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*: 4,500 – 4,900 euros
  • Head of independent junior research group**: 5,000 – 6,300 euros

Monthly basic salary, gross, rounded, 2022
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 (TdL) [German]

How much does a professor earn?

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): 4,800 – 5,400 euros
  • Professor (W2): 5,500 – 6,900 euros
  • Senior professor (W3): 6,700 – 7,800 euros

Monthly basic salary, gross, rounded, 2023; additional payments may apply. Salaries vary according to federal state.

Source: Deutscher Hochschulverband (external link to PDF, 162 KB) [German]

Good to know

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 (see above), while the TVöD/Bund scale [German] applies to federal employees.

The remuneration for professors in Germany is known as W-Besoldung, a salary scale for scholars (W stands for Wissenschaft”, which means science). This salary scale provides for additional performance-related payments on top of the basic salary.

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 a 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.