Monday, March 22, 2010

What Philosophers Earn...

Over at Leiter, there is an interesting chart detailing the salaries of unnamed members of an unnamed department. Go read it, then come back.

One interesting thing to notice is that there is a lot of money in being (what I can only imagine is) a young, hot-shot assistant professor. Some of those young hot-shots make only a little less than the folks who've been hanging around since the eighties.

Another interesting thing is that there is not much money in hanging around the same department for forty or fifty years. The endowed professor person who's been in the department since the sixties makes almost a hundred thousand dollars less than the full professor who was hired in the last ten years. Jesus.

This last thing makes me a little sad. I don't allow myself to have many preferences about what kind of career I'll have or how it will go--I know enough to know that any such preferences are extremely likely to go unsatisfied. But I kind of like the idea of being one of those guys who spends his career in one department, investing in it and cultivating it and building it. Looking back, the professors who have meant the most to me were lifers who were committed to the success of that department at that school. And not to hastily generalize from this one anonymous example, but it seems like people who do that earn half the money of people who jump ship--even in the same department.

--Mr. Zero

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

A couple of points:

1) It is important to note that the circumstance where the long time member of the department makes far less than the recent hire is much less likely to happen in a department without a doctoral program, because senior hires are rare in such departments. In my department (in medium-sized university), the top earners are the people who have been here since the late 60s and early 70s. They are also the people with the most power.

On the other hand, they make less than the endowed professor who has been around since the 60s mentioned on Leiter Reports...

2. On the other hand, we have the same compression issues with assistant professors (including me) making a lot in comparison with the associate faculty members. This is not necessarily due to us being "hot shots," though (I, for one, was no hot shot--at least in terms of the philosophy market). Assistant professors just make more than they used to coming in, across the board. I am sure, though, that being a hot shot helps... especially if you keep being a hot shot and can move to another department on a senior offer.

Anonymous said...

The salaries here are higher than I'd been led to believe. I wonder if the area of country is partially driving this effect -- if the dept. is in LA or NY or somewhere like this, this would make sense. I also wonder if the prestige of the school is driving this. Surely SLACs don't pay near this, on average.

Also, I agree that the salary disparity is depressing. It seems the only self-interested thing to do is go for outside offers, even if one never wants to leave one's department.

zombie said...

There was an article in Newsweek a while back that noted that when starting salaries are reduced during a bad economy, the people who start their careers during those periods of depressed salaries never EVER in their lifetimes make up the difference and achieve salary parity with peers who were hired during better times. The usual rules about starting salary determining future raises etc. apply. That's really bad news for those of us entering the job market right now, and it might also account for some of the differences in the Leiter piece you cite. Because someone who started their career in the 70s started during a recession. That person is now a senior faculty member. Someone who started during the booming 90s or earlier this decade probably started at a significantly higher salary, all things considered, and will therefore be in a better position over the entire career, than someone who started out lower. That person is a junior faculty member now.
Unfair to good, committed, loyal educators, to be sure.

mrv said...

Salary issues are complex in ways that the Leiter numbers by themselves don't make manifest.

First, I'm not sure what to make of these numbers without more context. There is big salary variation between public and private, and big cost of living variation depending on where the university is located. For example: I work at a private university in an expensive area with no graduate program and our median salaries by rank are better than those listed here. That said, I'm pretty sure if I moved someplace else and took a corresponding pay cut, my buying power would likely increase substantially.

Second, and relatedly, although salary compression can be corrosive on department morale, it can also reflect some broader facts about changes in cost of living. For example, faculty who got hired at any prominent Bay Area university in 60s and 70s are very likely to own houses now easily worth 1 million (and often, quite a bit more). These houses are also very likely to be paid off, or will be soon. In contrast, if you are hired as an Assistant or even Associate Professor without a compression-causing salary, you will never be able to buy a home in the Bay Area, period. Even with the compression-causing salary, things are going to be difficult in many cases.

So, what the compression oftentimes reflects is nothing more than what it takes to equalize buying power across decades in which costs of living have wildly escalated. So, we should be careful about paying too much attention to salary numbers and not to what kind of life it is buying one.

And no, I don't have a compression-causing salary.

AA158 said...

I think geography has a lot to do with salary levels. My sister has an MA in Library Science. She's considered a faculty member at her community college in CA (she's an Associate Professor now). She's just about to turn 40. She'd rank 4th if she were a member of this department.

(By the way, as far as Plan B's go, library science doesn't sound half bad.)

Anonymous said...

The endowed chair might carry other, non-salary benefits like a lighter teaching load (I know of one that teaches a single class a semester) or an extensive travel and research budget.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:49am, I had on campus interviews at 3 SLACs and offers from two of them, and in all cases the salary for the position ranged between 60 - 65K. (FWIW, all of these SLACs were in small to medium sized towns where the cost of living is rather low.)

Anonymous said...

The salaries do seem at the high end. I've had two offers: one a flagship state university in a low cost of living area, offer was in the low 50's; and another from an R1 university in a high cost of living area, offer in the mid 60's. Friends on the job market have had offers from 40-70K, with the 70K offer being in NYC.

Anonymous said...

You can check average faculty salaries here:
http://chronicle.com/article/Searchable-Database-AAUP/64231/

It's listed by rank but not by field, and of course professors in business, sciences, etc, are going to drive up the average. In my experience (I know salaries of 3 jobs at different institutions) average Philosophy salaries for assistant professors are about 12,000-15,000 less than the average faculty salaries listed in the above link.

Anonymous said...

The pay structure at most SLAC's works differently, b/c many of them have policies against matching competing offers. One would think that the salary pool will be more evenly spread out, beginning with the assistant professors, who may start higher, but may also be capped lower later in their career.

Anonymous said...

Leiter said that this information was published in some magazine, without anonymizing. I would like to know what this school is in order to know what sort of cost of living effects are in play here.

It's also worth noting that numerous state schools allow you to search for faculty members' salaries. Unfortunate, but if you want to know how salaries get distributed among old-timers, fresh new assistant professors, offer-chasing-frequent-movers, offer-grubbers-who-have-no-intention-to-really-move, etc., that's one place to look.

Anonymous said...

You can find the salaries of many, perhaps most, state university professors fairly easily if you want to, as they are state employees and the salaries of state employees are usually available via open records laws. If you google a bit you'll find a lot of such things in searchable lists.

It's completely possible for someone to be an old professor with an endowed chair and not to have made any significant contributions for many years and so not have received outside offers or to have merited a "merit" raise. We don't know enough about this case to know if that's true here.

By the way, as far as Plan B's go, library science doesn't sound half bad.

I'd be less sure. Many libraries, both at universities and public ones, have been cutting back staff, delaying or eliminating hiring, etc. Also, it seems that there's a glut of library science students all desperate for jobs, so that it's not unusual for any decent job to require several years of work experience that can only be gained by working in a fairly low-paying job. It might be a somewhat better market than being a professor, but it's far from great, nor is it likely to get massively better. Also, while having a grad degree can sometimes be a big plus for a library job, it can sometimes be a minus, too, depending on what sort of jobs are available.

Anonymous said...

Those salaries are very low for a place that is trying to be a major graduate program. They are ok for the profession at large but not at all good for a ranked PhD program.

And the assistant professors making in the 70s at a place like this are not the "hot shot" assistant professors of the world. The hot shots are those making over 100K as entry level faculty at Princeton and a few other of the top 10 schools.

Anonymous said...

"Those salaries are very low for a place that is trying to be a major graduate program. They are ok for the profession at large but not at all good for a ranked PhD program.

And the assistant professors making in the 70s at a place like this are not the "hot shot" assistant professors of the world. The hot shots are those making over 100K as entry level faculty at Princeton and a few other of the top 10 schools."

That's patently false. I know a large number of people from a top program who have gotten great jobs over the past few years, and no assistant professor in PHILOSOPHY is making anything close to 100K. Most of them are making about half that. I've heard a few cases of 70K, but that's it. I know from firsthand experience that five or six years ago NYU's philosophy department was offering starting salaries in the mid 50K range. Anyone have more recent data?

aa158 said...

It might be a somewhat better market than being a professor, but it's far from great, nor is it likely to get massively better.

True. But I hope my throw-away comment didn't suggest this to you or anyone else. It shouldn't have. The market is crappy everywhere, and everyone knows it. Maybe my comment -- "not half bad" -- can be read as the optimist's version of your "might be somewhat better"?? Honestly, though, I didn't even mean that much. It's just that I'd rather become a librarian than a lawyer, if I've got to go to Plan B.

Anyway, I really just wanted to mention the point about geography and top salaries. In expensive parts of the country, community college profs make as much as many of the profs mentioned on Leiter's.

Anonymous said...

"That's patently false."

Uh, I'm anonymous 12:53 and you say my information is "patently false" and then quote out of date information to refute me. Strange.

I have the more recent information having been involved in negotiations with faculty who eventually turned down offers at my school to take salaries of over 100K as assistant professors of *PHILOSOPHY* (since you think the capital letters help).

I've seen the contract offers because that has been a part of negotiating better offers for the candidates.

Mr. Zero said...

...what sort of cost of living effects are in play here.

Leiter says that the department is in an "above-average but not very high cost-of-living part of the country."

anothername said...

These salaries don't seem excessive to me. I'm an Assistant at a LAC, and make in the mid $7s, with superb benefits.

It's worth pointing out though that these salaries are on the low end for comparable professions, esp. when you take into account loss of earnings--including retirement savings--for the decade or so it takes to get the degree.

It's also worth noting that many places have far lower salaries than this. Asst. positions in the high 30s and low 40s are not unusual, and even some R1s pay ASSOCIATES in the low 60s.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a state college in a Los Angeles, I'm a second year assistant prof, and I make less than 60K.

Anonymous said...

5th year Mid-western (northern, small towm) SLAC and I am just a hair under 60K.

Fritz Warfield, University of Notre Dame said...

"no assistant professor in PHILOSOPHY is making anything close to 100K"

That's not true. There are several assistant professors of philosophy making over 100K. There are not dozens of them, but they are out there.

Competition at the top schools and at some rich but not top schools has driven entry level and some other salaries way up in the past 10 years at those schools.

The school in Brian Leiter's example pays pretty well, especially at the lower ranks, by the standards of the profession. But in comparison to the top schools this school pays poorly, especially at the full professor rank. Compare, for example, this school with Rutgers. The average associate professor at Rutgers philosophy makes more than the average full professor at this example department. And well over half of the full professors at Rutgers make more (in some cases far more) than the apparent "outlier" at this example school.

The salaries of the relatively new hires at the senior ranks (including the associate professor making far more than most full professors in the department) are so much higher primarily because of competition with peer departments. The associate professor was hired from a more highly ranked school that pays much better at the senior ranks than this example school does.

The first comment in this thread makes one excellent point: the sort of salary disparities we see in this example and at many other top 20 departments is a result of competition between PhD programs trying to improve graduate programs. Senior hiring is rare outside of schools attempting to strengthen PhD programs. But inside that group of school competition has been intense in recent years.

Anonymous said...

2nd year at a Leiter-ranked program as an assistant prof., and I make a little over 64K.

Anonymous said...

I work for the same state system as the people in this unnamed department, live in a city that costs as much as the city they live in, and I'm making at least twenty thousand less than people hired at my level the year I was hired. Our dean wants to recruit and turn us into a research branch. I think I'm gonna have to ask for a raise.

Anonymous said...

Ahem.

http://www.collegiatetimes.com/databases/salaries

Anonymous said...

I'm a first year tt asst prof at a branch campus of a large research university and make $55k. I'm in my late 30s and made this amount 10 years ago when I worked in business. I felt like I had to accept what they offered given how incredibly competitive the job market is. But I'm back on the market now and hope to get an offer from another institution, maybe with a salary of somewhere between $60-70k. Then I can go back to the table with my current employer and hopefully renegotiate pay. The reality is: educational institutions are like businesses, they'll try to get you at the cheapest rate possible, and unless you've proven your worth there's no reason they'll pay you more. They'll throw you an extra $50 a month in regular increases and, if you complain, they'll give you notice and hire the next job-less philosopher.

chrono said...

Interesting. I posted a link to this *public* information, naming the school and showing the salaries. The moderators saw fit not to allow it. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

Rutgers salaries are anomalously high, it is how they built the department. The Collegiate Time link shows that clearly if you search data for other top departments like Michigan or UCLA.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the distraction, Anon 7:18. The numbers I've glanced at pretty much look right, but there are a few that seem, um, skewed. There's an assistant professor at Miami U (the one in Ohio) whose salary is listed at $5,407,800. Yes, she the "chief departmental advisor," but I have a feeling something is wrong here.

Anonymous said...

Young philosophers should consider the trade-off of teaching at a "prestigious" doctoral program vs. salaries at a unionized campus, like the 24-campus California State University. The latter can actually be very good.

At my large urban CSU campus, the salary ranges for the philosophy department look good compared to Leiter's annonymous department:
Assistants: $60,048 - $62,736
Associates: $67,392 - $69,348
Full Professors: $78,492 - $99,720

Also, thanks to the union a couple of years ago, we fixed some terrible salary compression and inversion that had crept in, especially among the assistant professors.

We will never have endowed chairs or eye-popping over-scale salaries, but most philosophers will never have those anyway, no matter where they teach.

Don't assume the non-prestigious schools still labor under terrible 4+4 workloads. That requirement was removed from the statewide CSU contract in 1994. Although some of the smaller CSUs still use that workload measure, the bigger campuses have moved toward creative measures, large lectures, etc. that give faculty 3+3 and even 2+2 workloads.

Mr. Zero said...

Interesting. I posted a link to this *public* information, naming the school and showing the salaries. The moderators saw fit not to allow it. Why is that?

Because the moderator would like this to remain a discussion of the meaning of these numbers, and would not like this to degenerate into a discussion of whose numbers they are.

As you say, the information is public, and (apparently) very easy to find. I have not prevented anyone from getting it. But you won't get it here.

Anonymous said...

"Rutgers salaries are anomalously high, it is how they built the department. The Collegiate Time link shows that clearly if you search data for other top departments like Michigan or UCLA."

Well, Rutgers salaries are higher than salaries at Michigan at UCLA. That much is clear. But if you compare with what is known about salaries at Princeton, NYU, Harvard, and Yale I don't think you'd conclude more than that Rutgers salaries are high *for a public school*.

Anonymous said...

Leiter doesn't have un-employed as a category for philosophers' salaries, which, in this current market, is the salary that most of those coming out of PhD programs will have.

Moreover, Leiter says that he published this info in part for "students thinking about careers in philosophy--what kinds of salaries might be in their future." I would say that anyone that is thinking about going to graduate school in philosophy should not expect at all to receive any sort of salary upon graduating. There are no jobs in philosophy and the market is going to just continue to get worse and worse. The future for the humanities is America is pretty ugly.

Anonymous said...

Fourth year assistant professor at R2 research university in the mid atlantic. Base salary is 56,000. However, by teaching one summer class and picking up some additional faculty stipends I am able to add about 9,000. So this year I'll make 65,000 gross. There are a fair amount of these add-ons around if you seek them out, and it provides a way to make a little extra if that is wanted.

Anonymous said...

4th year, SLAC, 59K, small town

Anonymous said...

I love Leiter's comment that he published the salary information to help students who are thinking about careers in philosophy. What obvious bullshit. His site is elitist gossip-mongering hiding behind a thin veneer of largess. I read it the way some people look at porn. There are, I admit, a few students who are likely to be benefited by the data on his site. But, they are only the most privileged/successful. Good for them, I suppose. But I hate the idea that the discipline of philosophy is somehow centered on them, or on the stars whose every job offer gets posted on his site.

There is so much good philosophy going on that is not heralded there. We all pay far too much attention to Leiter. That's not his fault, but it is his responsibility. Is anyone else amused by the contrast between his leftist politics and his elitist site?

Anonymous said...

I'm a little surprised that no one has made the comment that making $60k a year to work 20 hours a week (with summers off) is pretty much awesome. How much money do you need? The horror of being merely upper-middle class...

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:09 pm:

Are you serious? How many of us work only 20 hours a week and have summers off? I'm an asst prof. at an R2 school. No, I don't teach over the summer, but I spend my entire summer and just about every weekend working on research. I work well over 40 hours per week, and I suspect that most asst profs do as well.

Don't feed the negative steorotypes about us "privileged" professors. Yes, this is a good job, and it comes with flexibility. But flexibility does not entail that we have lots of free time.