You will receive ample support as a researcher in Bavaria. With a good salary and a comprehensive social security system, you will be able to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Of course, incomes vary based on your level of responsibility and work experience. Similarly, the cost of living will depend on your personal choices and family situation.

Salaried Positions for Researchers

The pay you receive depends on several factors, but researchers at all levels receive good support in terms of monthly income, insurance, and additional support for research equipment and supplies.

How to Decipher the German Pay Scale

Public employees, like university researchers, are paid according to a standard state and federal pay scale. For a university position in Bavaria, it is the TV-L pay scale. TV-L stands for Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst der Länder, the bargaining agreement for public employees of German states.

Each salary level is assigned a number, which refers to the pay you will receive based on your qualifications and experience. The “E” means Entgeltgruppe, or salary group.

TV-L E13

Most doctoral positions and some postdoc positions will be categorized as TV-L 13, which can range from about €4100 to €6000 (gross monthly salary). The exact salary is determined by your years of experience.

TV-L E14

These positions involve significant managerial responsibilities. They pay anywhere from €4500 to €6400 (gross monthly salary). The precise amount depends on the amount of experience you have.

TV-L E15

This is the recommended pay grade for leaders of research groups, but the final decision lies with the institution employing you. The salary ranges from approximately €5000 to €7000 (gross monthly salary).

Fellowships and Scholarships in Germany

PhD candidates and postdocs in Bavaria can finance their research with postgraduate funding in the form of scholarships, or other external funding such as fellowship grants. These funds generally provide enough income to cover things like living expenses, social security contributions, and your research and its related costs.

PhD funding in Bavaria

Doctoral candidates who are scholarship recipients receive a monthly stipend. Your scholarship foundation might also provide funding for books and research materials. In addition, you can often request money for conferences (travel costs, accommodation, conference fees). You will often benefit from the foundation’s program for fellowship recipients, which may include workshop and networking events.

There are no deductions for taxes or insurance from your monthly stipend. But that means you will need to take care of insurance matters yourself. Health insurance is mandatory for everyone who lives in Germany.

Postdoc funding and fellowships

Postdoctoral researchers often apply for external grants to fund their research. Depending on the type of grant, funding might cover expenses for equipment and staff—including their own position—as well as health insurance and other social benefits, travel, and even a family allowance. You should clarify the terms of your grant with the awarding organization. If you receive third party funding, your university will be able to advise you on the financial aspects of project management. Universities also usually manage administration of the grant or offer support in this regard.

Professors’ Pay Scale

Currently, different levels of professorship are designated according to their salary level, which is determined by state regulations. You will see these levels advertised in job announcements. Professorial positions are ranked as W1, W2, or W3—the W stands for Wissenschaft, which means science.

W1 Junior Professors

W1 professors are at the beginning of their career as professors. These positions are a stepping-stone to W2 and W3 positions. Junior professors are sometimes starting tenure-track professors. The salary is around €5000 (gross monthly salary).

W2 and W3 Professorships

For W2 professorships, the monthly salary ranges from €6200 to €6900 (gross monthly salary). For W3 professorships, it ranges from €7400 to €7900 (gross monthly salary). 

When you are offered an appointment as a W2 or W3 professor, you will have the chance to negotiate your salary and make provisions regarding performance bonuses. You will also be able to negotiate aspects such as staffing and workplace set-up. Additional funding for your research can come from external agencies.

Social Security and What Tax Contributions Cover

Bavaria is a safe place with a high standard of living. Part of that safety comes from the social security system and the extensive public services that your taxes make possible. As an employee, you contribute part of your earnings to various insurance funds, including health insurance, accident insurance, and unemployment for example. So, if something unexpected happens, you are in good hands.

Social security payments

As an employee, your monthly contributions cover:

  • Health insurance, so you don’t have to worry about doctor’s fees, hospital bills, or prescription medicine costs.
  • Long-term care insurance, in case you need special medical care over an extended period.
  • Retirement insurance, so you have income after you retire. Some countries have reciprocity with Germany. This means that pension paid abroad can be transferred to Germany.
  • Unemployment insurance, so you don’t have to worry about transition phases between jobs.
  • Accident insurance, in case something unexpected happens.

Professors in Germany are usually civil servants, which means social security, health care, and pension plans work a bit differently for them. They receive higher salaries and must purchase private health insurance. (However, 50–80% of these costs are refunded.) They also receive more substantial retirement benefits.

What your taxes do for you

In Germany, you will experience a high quality of life and relatively low living costs, compared to other research hotspots. While it is true that taxation in Bavaria is a bit higher than you might find in some other countries, these costs are offset by access to excellent services—and to numerous well-paying jobs, thanks to Bavaria’s position as a dynamic business hub.   

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