Is the NIH Minimum Salary Binding for All?

Dear Dora,

Does the NIH minimum salary for postdocs only apply to people who are funded on NIH grants, or is it a general benchmark? I think I’m being paid below the NIH minimum, but I’m not on an NIH grant so I don’t know if there’s any course of action to take to increase my salary.

RO, Postdoctoral Fellow

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Dear RO,

I looked up the postdoctoral salaries on the websites of reputable universities, and the minimum for one of the universities was below the NIH minimum. This suggests that universities do not have to pay you the NIH minimum.

However, you are allowed to ask for a raise, especially if you have been there more than a year. I recommend meeting with you PI when he or she is relaxed, or at least not in a rush, and asking them whether it would be possible to have an increase in salary. You can indicate that you have been there for some time and it would be nice to be compensated for your work. I would not mention the NIH minimum, only if the raise they give you is below it.

In either event, it is best to phrase the question as “Would it be possible”, rather than demanding to get a raise to match a minimal amount.

See my previous blog on asking for a raise.

 

Dora Farkas, Ph.D. is the author “The Smart Way to Your Ph.D.:200 Secrets from 100 Graduates,” and the founder of PhDNet, an online community for graduate students and PhDs. You will find links to her book, monthly newsletters, and discussion board on her site. Send your questions to DearDora@benchfly.com and keep an eye out for them in an upcoming issue!

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Stay tuned for the next Dear Dora in two weeks!  In the meantime, check a few of Dora’s recent posts:

 

Submit your questions to Dora at DearDora@benchfly.com, or use the comment box below!

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2 comments so far. Join The Discussion

  1. biochembelle

    wrote on October 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    The NIH minimum salary guidelines technically only apply to fellows supported by training grants (F32 or T32). Current levels are posted each year by the NIH.

    Some institutions use NRSA levels to set required or recommended pay levels. If there is a recommended/required scale, then you can typically get that information via your institution's postdoc association/office for fellows/other equivalent. Of course, you can always ask for more… but I would tread carefully.

  2. biochembelle

    wrote on October 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    The NIH minimum salary guidelines technically only apply to fellows supported by training grants (F32 or T32). Current levels are posted each year by the NIH.

    Some institutions use NRSA levels to set required or recommended pay levels. If there is a recommended/required scale, then you can typically get that information via your institution's postdoc association/office for fellows/other equivalent. Of course, you can always ask for more… but I would tread carefully.

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