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Author Topic: Postdocs: US vs. Europe  (Read 4434 times)
sacraig
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« on: November 26, 2012, 11:42:36 PM »

Apologies if this has been asked before, and I am sure it has, but I didn't see anything about it. Are there any major differences between postdocs in the US and postdocs in Europe (specifically UK, Germany, Belgium, France)?
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frogfactory
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2012, 8:22:06 AM »

I would imagine this depends a fair bit on the field.  In biomedical sciences, I don't think there's a great deal of difference between the UK and US in terms of day to day stuff, but it gets a bit more complicated when you look at career progression.  At least in my US department, remuneration for post-docs was a bit crap compared with their UK counterparts, though.  It's also - obviously - trickier to join a union in the US.
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sacraig
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2012, 11:32:32 AM »

I suppose the field would have been helpful. I come from an engineering background, so biomedical sciences are reasonably relevant.

My reason for asking is that I know that the way PhD students are treated can vary quite dramatically. I know, for example, that in the Netherlands, PhD students are treated more like full-time employees and given full benefits including paid vacation, retirement accounts, respectable salaries, etc., whereas most of the places I am familiar with over here in the States treat PhD students essentially as indentured servants in a sense. I was just curious as to whether a similar dichotomy exists at the post-doc level or of the playing field is more level once you have your degree in hand.
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peppergal
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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2012, 12:33:02 PM »

I was just curious as to whether a similar dichotomy exists at the post-doc level or of the playing field is more level once you have your degree in hand.

The former moreso than the latter.  Postdoc salaries in the US are much lower than in Europe.
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kron3007
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« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2012, 1:05:08 PM »

It seems to me that this difference persists into the post-doc level.  Europe tends to pay better, give better benefits and holidays, and views postdocs as people. 

For the record, I am in Canada and these issues are no better up here.  Australia on the other hand pays their post-docs much better; you may want to include it in your search.   
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sacraig
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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2012, 1:31:23 PM »

The land down under would be pretty cool. I am not aware of many opportunities in my field of interest down there, though I know there are some that exist. I do know that my adviser has tons of connections in the EU and has mention postdoc positions in Europe to me before in the countries I mentioned before. I am certainly quite intrigued by the possibility of a few years over there before looking for tenure-track positions down the road. I know having some degree of international recognition to my name can do nothing but help my chances, after all.
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scampster
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2012, 3:25:12 PM »

My physical science postdocs in the US and Europe had almost the exact same salary and benefits and treatment (salary equivalent to somewhere between 50 and 55k USD). The biggest difference is that we get the extra holidays around Easter and Christmas in Europe and taking an hour for lunch is the norm. Whether you get treated like a person depends far more on your PI than the country in which you live.
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youllneverwalkalone
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2012, 8:30:38 PM »

Whether you get treated like a person depends far more on your PI than the country in which you live.

Well of course you can find outliers anywhere, but on average working conditions for phds and postdocs vary hugely across countries. This is true also for within European countries by the way, even more so than when compared to the US.
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nuclear85
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« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 9:37:11 AM »

I'm going to take the contrary opinion on what's been said here, and say that in France at least, the postdoc salaries tend to be on the very low end of the US salary range (which varies depending on university/national lab, etc). Actually, this seems to be true even for professors and PIs. I took this job knowing that it paid less than anything else I was applying for, because I wanted the international experience and the project was very interesting. I should mention, I am in an engineering/physical sciences field. However, you get a lot more vacation days in France!! I agree that the general treatment of postdocs probably varies a lot by group, but I am definitely treated like a real human here.
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