UC Berkeley ranks 13th nationally for professor pay

UC Berkeley campus: its professors are ranked 13th nationally for compensation. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The average salary for a UC Berkeley professor is $149,100 which puts the university at 13th place in a recently published ranking of the highest paying colleges in America.

Harvard University professors are the top-earning educators in the country, garnering an average annual salary of $193,800, according to the report by American Association of University Professors.

While the sums involved may seem relatively healthy, the report concludes that compensation levels at U.S. universities are stagnating, and that the outlook generally on the financial front is bleak. “Although the worst recession since the Great Depression is now technically over, our analysis of faculty compensation and forecasts for state revenues indicates that the negative impact on higher education will continue for years in many states,” it states.

The survey cuts the data in a multitude of ways, analyzing how factors such as tenure, gender, and experience affect compensation levels.

It also asks who, outside the professoriate, should care what happens to faculty salaries and benefits during a recession. The report’s answer: “Everyone who hopes to be employed in the future, bring home a paycheck, and have something left over to put into savings should care. In the second decade of the 21st century, we live our lives in a global knowledge economy.”

Read the full report here.

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  • reader

    The number sounds very high. I didn’t not see the acutal number for UCB in the report, what is your source other than the website linked in the article? Is $149K for salary or total compensation? See here for the UCB faculty salary: http://www.ucop.edu/acadpersonnel/0910/table1.pdf. As you can see, after 20 years with UC, a professor can expect to get about $85K from UC (if he survives the tenure ordeal, that is). If he receives research funding, he may be able to pay himself to do research in the summer which raises the salary about 25%.

  • As someone who left academia in part to make more money, I’m stunned by those numbers. And from what I’ve heard from friends who stayed in academia, they’re nowhere near accurate. $149,100 can’t be a mean salary for professors, or even tenured professors – those numbers must be much lower.

  • Anonymous

    UC salaries are public information. Follow this link and search for Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor. You will find professors making 149,000 — but you will also find some making $250K. And the professors at the various UC Medical Centers range upwards to seven-figure salaries.


  • AsperiTe

    that’s awfully high. depending upon department, etc. you are making 80-100K as an assistant prof (summer salary included–hope you get some grants in!). if you get tenure, are wildly successful, etc. then yes, your salary grows. the other thing to consider is that many of the faculty are in their late 40’s to early 60’s, so their pay is naturally higher after years and years and years of 2% increases, etc.

  • bbp

    I wish news reports would attend to the huge disparities cloaked in these averages.

    The average salary of a professor depends heavily on what department he is in. The big salaries are in law and business (and medicine), with many professors making 200-400. Economics professors and other fields with a healthier outside job market also command significant salaries.

    Assistant professors in the humanities and most social sciences start out in the 50s or low 60s. Many full professors in these fields make somewhere in the 80s or 90s. Only the very famous make it well into the 100s.

  • UCBerkeley Employee

    The sacbee.com/statepay database is pretty interesting. I see many older/tenured biology professors making >150 k (which is what ucop.edu/acadpersonnel/0910/table1.pdf claims is the max for a Professor Step IX grade employee). What is the explanation? Is that Table irrelevant when it comes to salary negotiations?

  • Jouee

    The data is skewed due to a handful of 2 million+ salaries. We need to see the median (which is considerably lower) to have a true sense of typically salaries.

  • Sean0

    If you bring in a lot of overhead money, your salary will skyrocket. Heck, we have assistant professors at Virginia Tech (much less prestigious Berkeley) making >170. There are several profs in the >300K club in the building across from my window. The cool thing is that they buy nice cars and I get to see them when I walk to class.