1 What Our Professors Earned | The Billfold

What Our Professors Earned

One of my favorite things in the world is knowing what people earn. Like that recent story in the Times about how much C.E.O.s earn, or that terrific piece Emily wrote today letting us know about her $200,000 advance. Knowing how much my coworkers earned at my old job put me in a good position to ask for a big raise because I knew how much I should be earning based on what my predecessors told me they raked in.

This is why I love this table provided by the Chronicle of Higher Education listing the average salaries of professors and instructors at 1,251 colleges across the U.S. Harvard professors, as you’d expect, are the highest paid, with full professors earning an average annual salary of $198,400.

Even better than that is this database from The Sacramento Bee listing all the salaries of California state workers. I looked up what my senior thesis advisor earned in 2010, and discovered that she took home $93,000. Get yourself a teaching job at Harvard, Professor Silver!


Photo: Flickr/linademartinez


10 Comments / Post A Comment

Mandykins (#247)

This is so interesting. I went to a school listed in the top 10 of that list, and happen to know that my associate professor work study boss made about 60% of what’s listed there ca. 2008. I suspect that being a humanities prof at a science-heavy school has something to do with it.

I get a little pinch of glee every time I see a media outlet leave off the “The” in my alma mater’s name.

jfruh (#161)

Two highest paid California state employees: Cal football coach and UCLA football coach, with Cal’s basketball coach coming in at #4! I loved that “HEAD COACH 5″ is an official state payroll tier.

As a disgruntled (former) academic, I want to add in the reminder that full professor is a rank achieved after a very long time: post-PhD (minimum of 5 years post-BA for humanities types; usually more) that means moving through being an assistant professor (6 years) and then being promoted from associate to full, for which there’s not a set timeline, but probably will take another 6-10 years. So that $193,000 salary is for someone with more than 15 years experience.

People tend to think professors are overpaid. Numbers for academic salaries are very skewed by salaries from business, law, and med schools and to a lesser extent scientists.

I made $45K as a starting assistant professor at a flagship state university in the midwest. I worked all the time, too, because the first few years are hell, because you’re not only prepping new courses but there research requirements are heavy (no books or articles = no tenure = no job!). An adjunct– who is making up much more of the teaching force than tenured or tenure-track faculty– can be paid as little as $2,000 to teach a course.

That said, yes, being a full professor at Harvard would be a lovely thing. But even that salary’s not going to go so far in buying a decent place in Cambridge!

jenfizz (#100)

@angry little raincloud: I wish I made $2000 per class as an adjunct. I make a measely $1800 without any benefits. I make more waiting tables in a month than I make teaching a class for an entire semester. Stupid fucking Ph.D program.

sventurata (#27)

We have a list like in my area for every government employee who makes over $100K (which, granted, hardly the high rollers in a midsized city these days).

However, when I attended the prestigious graduate school that did absolutely sweet-all for my employment prospects, I always perused the list to see how many of my tenured, teaching-resistant, allergic-to-students professors got their 15% raises every year.

They were ALWAYS the ones who griped endlessly about how their devotion to academia had left them destitute and spendthrift. TO A MAN. (Women on the list had the sense not to complain to their graduate students who cleared maybe $15K a year after tuition).

sventurata (#27)

And then I graduated with my prestigious degree and made less than I did as a student. Oh, education. Shoulda gone to Vegas instead.

Brunhilde (#78)

Aaaaw, only back to 2007. But it looks like my Number Theory/Abstract Algebra professor was still there until 2010 and last made $132,837.79.

And I remember no one else’s name that worked at my school. Damn.

I love knowing what people earn, too! This website just feeds my addiction to nosiness about other people’s money. I also loved when New York did that whole thing about how much people in Hollywood make and spend, although these relatively normal people’s finances are even better.

So more personal finance over-shares, please!

Looking at my alma mater (and where I worked as an instructor): I would have had to teach nearly SIX COURSES a semester to eke out an existence at 55K.

Comments are closed!