There is very little information available on how much postdocs are actually paid in the U.S., beyond data on institutional salary policies gathered by the National Postdoctoral Association. Following on from recent discussions about postdoc salaries changing as a result of proposed updates to U.S. Federal labor law, we have gathered data from a selection of institutions through Freedom of Information Requests, asking only for titles and salaries of postdocs, to see if we can identify actual postdoctoral salaries. The aggregate data, and more information, can be found at out “Investigating Postdoc Salaries” Resource. Every day, we will be releasing a discussion of each individual institution or system from which we received data. Today: the University of Washington.


Cost for FOIA Request: $0

Additional notes: Names also supplied


We wanted to begin our month on a positive note: that institutions can provide accurate salary information, for what we believe to be all postdoctoral researchers at the institution, through public reporting channels.


The amount data received from the University of Washington approximates the number of postdocs reported in the National Science Foundation’s data. While of course both are dependent on the institution, these data likely came from different parts of the institution, and so the data is at least highly internally consistent, suggesting a well-functioning administrative setup.


The salaries reported also do not encounter the common problem of reporting only what is paid through Human Resources at the institution, rather than what is paid to the postdoc. For example, at many institutions, if postdoc are paid directly on a fellowship, and no salary passes through the university payroll, we see salaries of $0, or low values likely due to supplements given on top of salary. This was not the case at the University of Washington, and we know it to be the case as this was independently verified by a postdoc on a fellowship who contacted us. As we were given names in the data, we were able to identify that their salary was reported accurately, and was what they actually received. Therefore this sample represents among the best in our dataset.


25 salaries were below the $47,476 proposed FLSA minimum; but 525 were above the National Academies 2014 recommended minimum, converted to 2016 dollars. Out of a total of 1076 salaries, about 50% are therefore above this recommended minimum.


The University had a strong plan to raising salaries in response to the FLSA updates here (and indeed references our materials on the matter).


Therefore one of the happy results of this analysis was that institutions are capable of administering postdocs well where there is an institutional commitment to doing so.