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Old 13.11.2012, 10:58
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ETH postdoc query

Hi fellows,

The forum is sweet. I got many infos about Swiss jobs. Here are a couple of my further questions.

1. Does the postdoc salary consider the experience? For example with 5+ years, what would be the gross (100%) in ETH? In what occasion to discuss it with the professor? Is it acceptable to talk about salary in Skype interview?

2. As a postdoc, can I bring my family (wife and child) along with me to Swiss? I am from Asia.
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Old 13.11.2012, 11:18
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Re: ETH postdoc query

2) Can't really answer about Swiss as no idea where it is, maybe you could point me in right direction ?

ASs for bringing your family to Switzerland on your visa, this should be possible providing your salary allows it or you have independant financial means. You will need an absolute minimum of Chf 4'500.-- per month, net to satisfy the authorities
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Old 13.11.2012, 20:41
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Re: ETH postdoc query

It's quite common for Postdocs to have their families over with them here. I know postdocs at universities that pay less than ETH (pretty much all of them) who have their families here. It should certainly be possible.
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Old 13.11.2012, 21:17
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Re: ETH postdoc query

A good friend of mine took a Postdoc at the PSI and brought his wife and two little girls over. The PSI will pay on the ETHZ pay scale so I'm sure you can manage quite comfortably, especially if you choose where you live carefully so you don't pay too much rent.

I also have an arbeitsplatz at ETHZ, although I actually work for a company, and I really like it there. Everyone I've met so far has been really friendly and I'm sure you'll find lots more helpful advice from your potential co-workers about how to manage.

I'm afraid I don't know how salary scales with experience as I was pretty green when I got here so I imagine I'm at the bottom end of things.

Good luck!
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Old 14.11.2012, 04:17
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Re: ETH postdoc query

Thank you, Today_only, IronAngle, Firebird. I have the general answers to Q2.

Anyone else has an idea for Q1?
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Old 14.11.2012, 10:31
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Re: ETH postdoc query

You can try to google only within ethz.ch domain - AFAIR the salary rates are more less the same within all the departments and are published somewhere there (I can't find the link right now though). See i.e. an old ad here:
http://www.exp-astro.phys.ethz.ch/ex...tdoc_2010.html
I think for 2012 the 100% level salary ranged from 80 000-100 000 chf.
edited: but it may also happen the professor has some additional funds - this is the "standard" ETH offer only.
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Old 14.11.2012, 10:32
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Re: ETH postdoc query

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Hi fellows,

The forum is sweet. I got many infos about Swiss jobs. Here are a couple of my further questions.

1. Does the postdoc salary consider the experience? For example with 5+ years, what would be the gross (100%) in ETH? In what occasion to discuss it with the professor? Is it acceptable to talk about salary in Skype interview?

2. As a postdoc, can I bring my family (wife and child) along with me to Swiss? I am from Asia.
http://www.pa.ethz.ch/anstellung-arb...tzung/index_EN

Q1 yes. Google is a great tool as well to find out the salary bands. Your salary between 60-100% will be based on your experience, your ability to be an apt, self motivated researcher, and your ability to sell your positives to your boss during the salary negotiation of your interview process.

Fairly standard for any job.
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Old 14.11.2012, 20:46
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Re: ETH postdoc query

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1. Does the postdoc salary consider the experience? For example with 5+ years, what would be the gross (100%) in ETH? In what occasion to discuss it with the professor? Is it acceptable to talk about salary in Skype interview?
You might get different answers here. My approach in interviews is to not bring up the salary and leave it up to the employer to discuss. Sometimes they don't mention it at all, other times they ask you the standard question "what are your salary expectations?".

Then again, I'm still very new to the job market so I'm not really in a position to negotiate yet.

In any case, I can tell you that ETH postdocs get paid well. Two of my friends just started Phd's and they get over 50k a year. In a group of around 10 Phd students there will only be a couple of postdocs.

The figure bluecherry quoted definitely looks to be in the right range.
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Old 14.11.2012, 21:20
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Re: ETH postdoc query

Q1) No. Base salary does not depend on prior experience, nor do yearly cost of living adjustments. Salary rates at 100% are the same for all post docs at ETH and EPFL. Don't bring the salary up over Skype. You can't negotiate it. It's certainly adequate.

Follow up to Q1) If you have 5+ years of experience, why are you looking at another Post-Doc? No, graduate school doesn't count.

Q2) Yes, you can.
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Old 14.11.2012, 21:22
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Re: ETH postdoc query

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You can try to google only within ethz.ch domain - AFAIR the salary rates are more less the same within all the departments and are published somewhere there (I can't find the link right now though). See i.e. an old ad here:
http://www.exp-astro.phys.ethz.ch/ex...tdoc_2010.html
I think for 2012 the 100% level salary ranged from 80 000-100 000 chf.
edited: but it may also happen the professor has some additional funds - this is the "standard" ETH offer only.
Salary does not depend on starting experience. It depends on years worked at the institution. Each year you work there you get an automatic raise.
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Old 15.11.2012, 04:15
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Re: ETH postdoc query

Thank you, Bluecherry, Chemie, IronAngle and Ohmsford02.

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Follow up to Q1) If you have 5+ years of experience, why are you looking at another Post-Doc? No, graduate school doesn't count.
Thanks for your concern. Well, I have 5+ years of experience (with two dozens of high-ranked journal papers) after phd. I am also submitting many applications for a tenure-track position. I had a special research background and the faculty position is quite difficult to acquire for now. It is better for me to take a postdoc/research scientist position first and then try to secure a faculty position at a proper time.
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Old 15.11.2012, 10:36
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Re: ETH postdoc query

In my experience salary (and other benefits) are always negotiable, in each and every company I ever worked for. It is always worth discussing it.

Imagine that you are a professor in Switzerland, and trying to hire someone. Found one - a smart chap, and interested, but he does not ask about the salary. What does it imply (subjectively):
  • he is desperate?
  • he is not that good?
  • or he does not have any other offer?
  • He is clueless about cost of living, and will be disappointed and will leave in 6 months?


There may be fixed scales, but you must ask about everything in details. Also, even if the salary may be fixed (which I doubt), there are other benefits that you may get, like relocation, paid accommodation for the first three months, free language course for the family, something else.


Finally - negotiate everything before you say "yes". When you say yes- that is it, you wont be able to get much afterwards.


Good luck!
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Old 15.11.2012, 11:03
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Re: ETH postdoc query

To answer your question:

1. You can certainly negotiate, but it doesn't mean you'll get what you want. Similar to normal circumstances, negotiate when you know they want to hire you. At the ETH domain, there is a fixed salary scale, but you can try to negotiate where you'll start on that scale. You'll find the scale here:
https://www.pa.ethz.ch/anstellung-ar...ionsraster.pdf

2. In general, postdocs are issued with a B permit, which means your wife and children will also receive the same permit. So yes, you can bring them over if you're also here.
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Old 15.11.2012, 12:15
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Re: ETH postdoc query

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Salary does not depend on starting experience. It depends on years worked at the institution. Each year you work there you get an automatic raise.
In my case, I started with two years' postdoc experience from my American university and these were counted at the ETH as years of experience-I started at a higher payscale.
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Old 15.11.2012, 12:18
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Re: ETH postdoc query

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To answer your question:

1. You can certainly negotiate, but it doesn't mean you'll get what you want. Similar to normal circumstances, negotiate when you know they want to hire you. At the ETH domain, there is a fixed salary scale, but you can try to negotiate where you'll start on that scale. You'll find the scale here:
https://www.pa.ethz.ch/anstellung-ar...ionsraster.pdf

2. In general, postdocs are issued with a B permit, which means your wife and children will also receive the same permit. So yes, you can bring them over if you're also here.
Again, in my institute, postdoc salaries are fixed by amount of experience. The payscale is more applicable to permanent positions. This may vary by institute or department. The ETH is not a company, it is an academic institute, and you are technically still a student, not an employee.

Also, postdocs are not issued a normal B permit, you'll instead get an "Ausbildung mit Erwerbstätigkeit," which is sort of like a normal B permit except you can't change jobs and your years as a postdoc don't count toward a C permit. Your first year, you may also be issued an L permit. This happens to many postdocs and you have to really push to change to a limited B. I'm not sure if this has an effect on family, but I would ask.

Again, this applies to D-Biol, but other departments may have different policies.
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Old 15.11.2012, 12:35
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Re: ETH postdoc query

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In my experience salary (and other benefits) are always negotiable, in each and every company I ever worked for. It is always worth discussing it.

Imagine that you are a professor in Switzerland, and trying to hire someone. Found one - a smart chap, and interested, but he does not ask about the salary. What does it imply (subjectively):
  • he is desperate?
  • he is not that good?
  • or he does not have any other offer?
  • He is clueless about cost of living, and will be disappointed and will leave in 6 months?


There may be fixed scales, but you must ask about everything in details. Also, even if the salary may be fixed (which I doubt), there are other benefits that you may get, like relocation, paid accommodation for the first three months, free language course for the family, something else.


Finally - negotiate everything before you say "yes". When you say yes- that is it, you wont be able to get much afterwards.


Good luck!
I'm not sure why you "doubt" the fixed nature of the salary, considering several people who have postdocs here have stated that it's the case.
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Old 15.11.2012, 13:04
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Re: ETH postdoc query

I was looking through my paperwork and found the magic document!

At the ETH, you are a post-doctoral student/research assistant II.

Salary scales for 2012, at a 100% contract are:

year 1: 84,700 CHF
year 2: 89,000 CHF
year 3: 93,300 CHF

As I mentioned, experience at other institutions does count. I was hired as a year 3 postdoc (on the contract, in German, it is called "Funktionsstufe") my first year at the ETH. This is the highest level, so additional years of experience don't help. The attached document has the rates as well as family support (and it is even in English ).

https://www.pa.ethz.ch/rechtliches/2...ginn_12_en.pdf
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Old 15.11.2012, 16:49
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Re: ETH postdoc query

Thank you, Swiss_in_training. Your doc is really helpful. By the way, how about your benefits like family relocation, paid accommodation and else?
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Old 15.11.2012, 16:57
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Re: ETH postdoc query

Do note, as the topic has gone, that negotiations are still possible, generally speaking on which department/faculty you will be applying to.

Certain departments will give you 100% right off the bat, no complaining there, no negotiations to be done. Other departments will start off with 60%, where generally everyone is getting 60% and then you must show why/how you are superior to the rest to get a higher percentage.
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Old 15.11.2012, 17:06
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Re: ETH postdoc query

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Thank you, Swiss_in_training. Your doc is really helpful. By the way, how about your benefits like family relocation, paid accommodation and else?
As postdoc you are not paid family relocation or accommodation etc. Unless you are special case....
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