You’ve done the job talk, had the interviews and finally been offered a position. Now it’s time to discuss the salary. Financial negotiations can be difficult, especially if you are comparing compensation between science jobs in academia and industry. You should also consider additional financial factors; the benefits package is typically worth at least 30% of your annual salary.
Additional financial factors:
- Health and medical insurance
- Dental and vision insurance
- Life and/or disability insurance
- Signing bonuses
- Performance bonuses
- 401(k) plans and contribution matching
- Stock options
- Relocation package
- Allowances: car, cell phone, etc
- Timeframes for salary reviews
However, keep in mind that these factors are only part of your total compensation package. There are other factors to consider that provide a “quality of life” value (some of them also provide a financial factor).
Quality of life factors:
- Number of vacation days
- Amount of travel required
- Commuting time
- Company location
- Career advancement opportunities
- Workplace environment
- Flexible work hours
- Cost of living
- Housing costs
For academic positions, you can also negotiate the start-up package. In academia, how you start out can make all the difference in how successful you will be. Be sure you get the resources you need — salary support for technicians/postdocs, equipment, physical space, unrestricted funds. Also be sure to get a reduced teaching load for as long as you can.
In the end, both parties need to be satisfied with the outcome of salary negotiations. Most companies have a predetermined budget for every position and have pay ranges and benefit packages based on established compensation hierarchies. An offer may be a take-it-or-leave-it proposition because the company has researched a job’s market value and is offering a competitive salary within their budget constraints.
When evaluating your next science job offer, remember to consider the total compensation package, not just salary.
Walter Jessen is a digital strategist, writer, web developer and data scientist. You can typically find him behind the screen something with an internet connection.