If your ultimate goal is to become a professor at a German university, then a junior professorship is an interesting career step after completing your doctorate.
A junior professorship enables early career researchers to engage in research and teaching early in their careers. Unlike research associates, who are bound by the instructions of their superiors, junior professors are on equal terms with other university teachers.
A successfully completed junior professorship will enable you to meet an important precondition for appointment to a professorship – and habilitation is then no longer required.
© DAAD/Jan Zappner
As a rule, junior professorships are advertised by universities, sometimes jointly with non-university research institutes. The focus here is on early independence in research and teaching. Junior professors are allowed to supervise doctorates, have teaching obligations and play an active role in academic administration. However, additional conditions also apply:
Junior professors are initially appointed for three or four years. If junior professors prove their worth – as a rule, this is determined by an evaluation – the professorship can be extended to a total of six years.
If the junior professorship has a tenure track option, it offers the possibility of a subsequent permanent professorship. The precondition for this is the successful completion of the junior professorship.
As a rule, the requirements for appointment to a junior professorship include an outstanding doctorate, a special capacity for research work and pedagogical aptitude.
Junior professors are considered especially highly qualified postdoctoral scholars. After the first two or three years the vast majority have their contracts extended to six years.
A successful junior professorship meets the requirements for appointment to a university professorship – in the same way as the habilitation process. If the junior professorship has a tenure track option, its successful completion immediately leads to a tenured professorship.
Appointment and salary
At most universities the appointment of a junior professor follows the same rules as those governing the appointment of professors. Read more:
Usually a university appointments committee (Berufungskommission) selects the most promising applicants and invites them to an interview and a trial lecture (open to members of the university). The best candidates are shortlisted. References are sought from professors at other universities concerning the applicants’ academic and personal suitability for the position.
There is no single set of rules covering the whole of Germany because education falls under the jurisdiction of the respective state. In most states, however, universities make their own autonomous decisions on appointments, otherwise the relevant state ministry is also involved in the appointment process.
As a rule, junior professors are paid in accordance with the W1 remuneration scale, a salary scale for scholars. (More information: Professorship at a university > Salary). Depending on the state in which the junior professorship is based (or whether it is paid in accordance with the collective agreement for federal employees), the gross monthly basic salary is between roughly 4,500 and 5,300 euros.
On top of this basic salary, you may be entitled to some special additional benefits. You should bear in mind that monthly deductions are taken from this total to cover taxes and possibly also social contributions for medical, unemployment and retirement pension insurance. These contributions enable you acquire rights to the excellent benefits of the German social security system.