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Postdoc salary in Stockholm

Negotiation for a fellowship

post 5.Jun.2013, 10:45 PM
Post #1
Joined: 5.Jun.2013


there's been the odd post on this, but from a while back, and I would be grateful for any help!
I have recently received an offer for a postdoctoral fellowship in stockholm, but the wage needs to be negotiated (something new for me...) I'm not sure what level this job technically is, as it's a fellowship, in that I have proposed, and will be carrying out, my own research project, which at least in the UK would carry a higher status than a standard postdoc (without being lecturer standard).

So, I was wondering what the general postdoc salary (for scientific disciplines) is, as well as what a comfortable wage for stockholm would be? To put things into perspective, I'm currently on 30000GBP a year (gross) in the UK, living outside london, which is more than ample for me, but I would hope to not be worse off in my new job. The feeling I'm getting is that postdocs generally get ~30000SEK per month, which is about 15% more than what I earn now, but in a country with higher taxes and higher cost of living...

Also, do people know how these negotiations are usually carried out? I find it a bit odd as they have already offered the job, and of course they can always say no and ask somebody else, but surely even if you make a ridiculous offer they would just come up with a reasonable counteroffer? Not that I would want to do that, but as I say, I'm not really used to this, as in most of the rest of Europe wages are set...

Thanks for any input!
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post 6.Jun.2013, 09:32 AM
Post #2
Joined: 23.Dec.2009

Surprising as it may seem but you will actually pay less salary tax in Sweden on that salary.

UK: 30000 sek / month = £35500 / year. Per month you will get £2246.48 / 22781 sek after income tax, NI etc.
Swe: 30000 sek / month. Per month you will get 23191 sek after taxes.

Plus, these figures aren't including council tax which is included in income tax in sweden so you will have even more in your pocket.
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post 6.Jun.2013, 10:01 AM
Post #3
Joined: 1.Jun.2008

I think you can get a bit more than 30000 sek.
Not postdoc but PhD salaries are centrally negotiated and you can find that information e.g.: http://www.csc.kth.se/student/doktorandrad/doktorandstegen/
Google for university-name doktorand steg

About negotiation: Don't say a number yourself before you hear what they offer. As long as you don't act as if you are about to walk away, you can simply ask for a bit more (if reasonable).
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post 6.Jun.2013, 10:02 AM
Post #4
Joined: 6.Jun.2013

Most postdocs (in medicine) receive around 27K in Sweden. This gets you a reasonable lifestyle although it has to be a little Swedefied: eating in ofter than out, pub twice a week instead of 4 -you get the idea.
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post 7.Jun.2013, 08:45 AM
Post #5
Joined: 17.Oct.2012

Depends on a couple of different factors as follows:

1) Employer: If you are employed by Karolinska or Uppsala, expect to get paid poorly. This is similar to the situation at Harvard or Oxford where they expect you to make a financial tradeoff for the privilege of putting their names on your CV. KTH pays better simply because they are an engineering institution and (I suspect) because they need to in order to attract talent since they are less well known internationally. At Karolinska, most postdocs get paid via a scholarship and do not have a contract. They typically make between 18k and 23k sek a month. The few that have contracts make about the same after taxes (so around 25k -30k before).

2) The salary jump between a PhD student and a postdoc isn't as great in Sweden as it is in (for example) the US. I am not familiar with the situation in the UK. So a postdoc might make only a couple thousand more than a PhD student. This isn't because the postdoc is badly paid, its because the PhD students are paid well (yay for student unions!!). The trend for PhD student salaries at various institutions follows the same trend as in pt 1).

3) You say you deserve more than what a regular postdoc is paid because you conceived of your own project. I do not know the validity or merit of that statement and thus do not question it, but the best way to figure out the average salaries of the other postdocs in the department (so you can pitch a higher number) is to call the administration. They are required by law to give you this number. Know that this number will be the average of everyone who has the title postdoc, so a new hire as well as someone on the brink of becoming a group leader.

4) I do not know of anyone who has managed to negotiate their salary up more than a couple of thousand sek. And in one case that I know of, even that increase needed to be authorized by the dean.

Your fellowship also sounds interesting. Most international fellowships that I am familiar with are competitive and offer a standard salary to all the recipients and are run by an organization which disburses and manages monies for it. But if this is a fellowship for the institution where you will be carrying out your research that is...interesting.

AFAIK, yes, if you make a ridiculous offer they will just pat you on the head and suggest a more reasonable number. This happened to someone I know and she asked for a number that was higher than what professors in the department were making, but that was based off a badly translated article she found online. They quickly sent her the swedish version and pointed out the discrepancy and offered her the average as noted in the (swedish) article. She asked for 2k sek more, they said 1k and everyone did the spit-shake and went home happy.


Good luck and let me know if I can be of any more help!
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post 7.Jun.2013, 11:52 AM
Post #6
Joined: 5.Jun.2013

Thanks a lot for your responses.

To answer a few of the comments/questions. The job is at the University of stockholm (met/climate field). I have to admit, my experience hasn't been that 'prestigious' universities pay less (and in fact, it's who you work for and specific department that matters most, I wouldn't say that Oxford is better than Leeds in the UK, for example), but this I appreciate is probably field-dependant. From what I've managed to find, PhDs get 28000SEK towards the end. I'll contact them to ask for the average postdoc salary, that's a good idea.

joe5451, not sure if I follow the details, but yes, in actual fact I think the tax paid might be similar. There's still the question of different costs of living though, but it does sound that 30000SEK is probably not far off what I'm earning now like for like (maybe slightly less?)

In terms of it being a fellowship, I guess I would say that given a range of postdoc salaries, I would have thought I should be in the upper end, rather than being paid more than a postdoc full stop. This is based on the fact that pay is based on experience, and they obviously think I'm experienced enough to work independently, without an actual supervisor (and actually my project is in a field in which there is little expertise in the department). Cherrybubble, you're right about fellowships, they are often nation-wide competitions. You do get departmental ones sometimes, I'm assuming it's a way of bringing in new research without going as far as offering lectureships. In this case, I think they wanted to improve links between the climate centre and the meteorology department, and this is a way of bringing in interesting projects to work at the interface. The ones I've seen in the UK are explicitly put as stepping stones to lectureships (you're expected to be given a permanent lectureship at the end, unless you don't do well), but I don't think it's the case here, so I'm just speculating. Should be interesting nonetheless!

I'll see what the admins say about mean wages, but given final phd salaries of 28000SEK, I'm leaning towards 32-35k, with 35 probably being a bit too high (but no harm trying?) Would be good to know what a junior lecturer gets too actually, might ask that as well.

Thanks again!
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post 7.Jun.2013, 05:13 PM
Post #7
Joined: 21.Apr.2013

Will 15% more wages cover the double taxes and higher standard of living? Come on, *scientific discipline*, you do the maths wink.gif

You will of course be worse off here. Most people are unfortunately.
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Max Reaver
post 7.Jun.2013, 07:58 PM
Post #8
Joined: 26.May.2011

Uppsala Uni is treating their postdoc employees pretty well. Karolinska Institute is the infamous one. Although in general it's like what the OP said, it depends on the group.

If you want good postdoc salary, I can highly recommend ETH. Their annual postdoc salary at 100% is around 90000 CHF, which equals 40000 SEK per month. Even in Zurich you can live very well on 20000 SEK per month, so what you save from there can be as much as what you earn in Stockholm. If you want even more money you can check out industry-postdoc at companies, but you may not find them in Sweden.

And finally, chloeff doesn't seem to like foreigners in Sweden, thereby most of her advice have been nothing but discouraging.
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post 7.Jun.2013, 08:52 PM
Post #9
Joined: 5.Jun.2013

Funnily enough, I have another application at ETH. In any case, I'm not going to reject this job for a maybe, and in any case, the choice would not be about the money but the job, and this job is good (would be a tough call vs ETH actually, which is a very good institute for what I do, but that's another story). It's just that, if I am going to go, I might as well try and get as much as I can given I will be doing the same work, and it's nice to know what to expect in terms of standard of living. Also, AFAIK Zurich is incredibly expensive, I suspect that more than Stockholm, not saying that I wouldn't still be better off, but as I said, the deciding factor is not money (or lets face it, I wouldn't be doing research!).

Chloeff, as joeff5451 pointed out, actually the taxes coming out of the gross pay would actually be somewhat lower in Sweden than in the UK. Given 30000SEK (and I'll probably aim for more), it would be a 17% increase without taking taxes into account, so it didn't strike me as that straightforward! Yes, I may still be worse off (I've been told to assume 25% more by somebody at my uni), but the difference wouldn't be massive.
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post 7.Jun.2013, 11:05 PM
Post #10
Joined: 21.Apr.2013

What are you talking about ... ? At no income bracket are taxes here lower than in the UK ...
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post 8.Jun.2013, 08:47 AM
Post #11
Joined: 30.Jun.2010

QUOTE (postdocinsweden @ 7.Jun.2013, 08:52 PM) *
Funnily enough, I have another application at ETH. In any case, I'm not going to reject this job for a maybe, and in any case, the choice would not be about the money but ... (show full quote)

I recently started as PhD at ETH in Zurich. Zurich is somewhat expensive than Stockholm, but it is more convenient to live in Zurich if you are in the academy. First of all, finding apartments is somewhat easier than in Stockholm, second, as long as you have your ETH card, you have access to lots of "bonuses" from ETH and Uni of Zurich. Examples of such bonuses are school-owned sports facilities, and cheap, convenient but nevertheless good food at school cafeteria. In Stockholm you pay as much as everyone else.

Zurich doesn't have the pub culture of UK. Going out in Switzerland makes expensive bills. But Switzerland is full of expats, so meeting people in similar situation is easier. Stockholm locals tend to stick to the same social circles since they are kids, they don't make much effort of knowing new people.

If you also get the offer from ETH, be sure to ask what salary level they'll pay you. If you get 100% then I'd say you make more out of coming to Zurich. Paying 80%, it's a tough call. 60% and you should go to Stockholm.
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post 10.Jun.2013, 09:25 AM
Post #12
Joined: 5.Jun.2013

chloeff: I went by a previous comment, admittedly I didn't check it. I just have though, and checking net pay with my current wage in the UK (using http://www.thesalarycalculator.co.uk/salary.php), and a pay in sweden of 32000SEK/month (using http://www.ekonomifakta.se/sv/Fakta/Skatte...-ut-din-skatt/), I get pretty much the same overall tax rate (23 vs 24%). Adding council tax in the UK (fixed amount of ~£60-80) they come out as virtually the same? I'm happy to stand corrected if this isn't the case, it's just using the online tools I've found, I have to admit I've been a bit surprised by this (although it may just be because companies are taxed more before the gross pay).

LeoKinsmann, thanks for your insights! Tbh, even if I did get the zurich job (and it's likely I will find out too late) for now I'm still leaning towards stockholm, just in terms of the job. And if I end up with a similar purchasing power as I have here in the UK I wouldn't have any complaints, even if I'd be better off money-wise in zurich.
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post 10.Jun.2013, 10:04 AM
Post #13
Joined: 14.Jan.2010

So we made a choice for work between Stockholm and Zürich in many ways, and, well, Zürich is actually bloody expensive compared to Stockholm (feels like coffee, for example, costs twice as much, and they essentially force you to buy water in restaurants, food is more expensive, that said, as a postdoc you probably won't be doing as much going out from what I remember of that time). Your higher salary and lower taxes will be offset to a large degree by things being more expensive (ask carefully about the medical insurance costs too, they have a weird American-style system that can get expensive if you don't select the right thing).

That said, both Stockholm and Zürich are lovely cities on water, and despite Stockholm's great public transportation, I will always have a spot for Zürich crazily on-time and everywhere trams.

P.S. If you have family, absolutely move to Stockholm.
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post 10.Jun.2013, 10:14 AM
Post #14
Joined: 26.Jul.2011

QUOTE (LeoKinmann @ 8.Jun.2013, 08:47 AM) *
But Switzerland is full of expats, so meeting people in similar situation is easier. Stockholm locals tend to stick to the same social circles since they are kids, they don ... (show full quote)

Sweden is full of expats aswell. Do all Stockholm locals do that? How do you know this? Is it somehow unique to Stockholm locals?
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post 10.Jun.2013, 11:02 AM
Post #15
Joined: 23.Dec.2009

QUOTE (postdocinsweden @ 10.Jun.2013, 09:25 AM) *
chloeff: I went by a previous comment, admittedly I didn't check it. I just have though, and checking net pay with my current wage in the UK (using http://www.thesalarycal ... (show full quote)

I used your links (after fixing the URLs) and I still make that you would receive more money after tax in Sweden than in the UK for that salary.

32000/month in sweden, using Stockholm's tax level and not including Swedish church tax = 24601 after tax.
At the current exchange rate, 32000sek/month = £37613/year (10.2 sek to the pound).
£37613/year in the uk = £2342/month after tax. Which is 23195/sek/month.

24601-23195= 1406 sek more in sweden than in the uk per month. Then you have the uk's council tax to add in and it makes it even more in your pocket in sweden, Living costs (housing aside) are though greater here in sweden so it isn't the only factor to consider.
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