A report on post-secondary teaching salaries in Canada and the U.S.

I have been compiling a quick report on post-secondary teaching salaries to use as future reference.

Since I am a career teacher, researching different options is always important to me.

I am considering doing a doctorate in Taiwan and thinking about teaching full-time at a university here.

(I am already teaching part-time at a university in Taiwan.)

The differences between the situation for teachers in the US and Canada has always struck a cord in me.

Here is a 2005 report from the US Department of Labor:

“Median annual earnings of all postsecondary teachers in May 2004 were $51,800. The middle 50 percent earned between $36,590 and $72,490. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,460, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $99,980.

Earnings for college faculty vary according to rank and type of institution, geographic area, and field. According to a 2004-05 survey by the American Association of University Professors, salaries for full-time faculty averaged $68,505. By rank, the average was $91,548 for professors, $65,113 for associate professors, $54,571 for assistant professors, $39,899 for instructors, and $45,647 for lecturers. Faculty in 4-year institutions earn higher salaries, on average, than do those in 2-year schools. In 2004-05, faculty salaries averaged $79,342 in private independent institutions, $66,851 in public institutions, and $61,103 in religiously affiliated private colleges and universities. In fields with high-paying nonacademic alternatives—medicine, law, engineering, and business, among others—earnings exceed these averages. In others fields—such as the humanities and education—they are lower.”

In contrast I came across another salary grid dating from 2007 from The University of Alberta that compared the Alberta professor salary’s to those in the U.S.:

Salary Gap: U of Alberta Professors vs. US Public University Professors, excluding Medical Faculty (2005/06)

U of Alberta ($US/PPP**) US Public Research/Doctoral Universities Average $US Difference

Professor $99,436 $124,202 (11 months*) 25%
Associate Professor $73,025 $86,719 (11 months*) 19%
Assistant Professor $61,862 $73,871 (11 months*) 19%
In oder to better understand the salary structure I came across this interesting article that explained how University Professors are essentially expected to earn frugal salaries in the beginning of their careers and high salaries in mid to late career. However, their overall earnings were considered low when compared to the private sector:

“When we sign on with the Canadian University system we buy into a salary system that includes regular annual increases (or ‘increments’), spread over the course of our career. These are sufficient to ensure relatively high earnings at least from our late 40s on. Our initial salaries are very low by labor market standards, but we accept this with an understanding that we will attain the upper reaches of the salary scale by retirement. In the long run, things are supposed to ‘average out’ – although even then, as you can see, university professors still earn less than average public and private sector employees. When salary controversies arise, what typically gets reported is an overall percentage increase. But it is important to recognize that these percentages have two components: one which is rightly considered a ‘raise’, and another which properly should be considered as deferred compensation.”

On a personal level my goal has always been to finish my education in Taiwan return home a position at a local B.C. University-College. However after reading this Faculty Position add for a Math Professor at the University College of the Fraser Valley I may have to re-think my plan. The add from 2005 states:

“The current salary range for UCFV faculty is $48,666 to $73,257 annually, with faculty moving up one level on the ten-step scale annually.

Qualifications and experience are both considered in determining the initial placement on the scale.”

This is not good news. It means that University-Collage professors in British Columbia are underpaid in comparison to instructors in the US. Additionally, I should note that most University-Colleges prefer their applicants to hold a PhD. Considering that most Canadians pay an income tax that is between 35-50% working in the US seems much more financially viable. It is unlikely that I would relish the opportunity of returning home to British Columbia, having to start at the bottom of an institution’s seniority scale and make marginally more than what I earned in Quebec with less education or experience. In contrasts I could earn up to $20,000 US more per year and pay less tax for doing the same job across the boarder. At the moment I will most likely be spending the next 3-5 years in Taiwan while Ranjit and I complete our education. However, I am thinking ahead and considering which option to peruse next…..


9 Responses to “A report on post-secondary teaching salaries in Canada and the U.S.”

  1. May 4, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    This is a great Photography blog, thanks for the info.

  2. 2 Doe
    November 7, 2007 at 10:25 am

    hi! my name is faccity! your site is good! i will visit it again! good luck!

  3. December 19, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Oh, and did not know about it. Thanks for the information …

  4. 4 Steve
    January 8, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Very good intl comparison, thank you.

    What is the general range of pay in Taiwan? Is it changing? Its it worth the time in exchange for the experience to spend a few years teaching there (Asia) ?

    Any additional perspective would be appreciated; I’m also considering teaching (Asst Prof) in Taiwan.


  5. 5 J
    October 13, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Of course you wouldn’t make very much money at a University College since they are not really considered to be real universities (they are more like community colleges and don’t have very big endowments).

    You note that in the U.S:
    “By rank, the average was $91,548 for professors, $65,113 for associate professors, $54,571 for assistant professors, $39,899 for instructors, and $45,647 for lecturers”

    In Canada, the average assistant professor makes $62 000 (if you teach at an actual university and not a “university college”). The average full professor makes about 90-95 K.Check out this link from Statistics Canada:

    And in Canada your benefits are benefit and you will never have to go bankrupt paying your medical bills (since we have socialized health care).

    I know many people who have worked as assistant professors (tenure track) in the states and started with salaries of about $35,000 (before taxes).

    Of course there is also the issue that academic jobs are drying up much more in the states than in Canada because of the economic crisis. I know someone who was on the hiring committee for a Maritime university. The hire was last year and they were inundated with applications from the U.S. (far outnumbering Canadians). The job went to a Canadian however.

  6. October 21, 2009 at 10:26 am

    This is very sobering news J and I have heard that this year things are very bad for American academics.

    Believe it or not I am in the process of applying to finish my PhD in the US and have been told that the states is the place to be in terms of money and research. Of course this depends on the job you are to receive and how ambitious you are in terms of research/publications. As my field is in Art Education there is a lot more money in the US than in Canada.

  7. 7 J
    October 21, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Yeah I am in a Canadian PhD program right now and I have observed where my colleagues are going. About half of the people I know get jobs in the States and the other half get jobs in Canada. However, I attribute this partially to the fact that there are so many more schools in the states.
    Does the U.S. have something like SSHRC? Because I know that makes a big difference for academics who are ambitious vis a vis publishing etc.

  8. 8 Frances
    January 15, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Everytime I visit your site and read the updates, I am reminded of why I left Canada in the first place. I worked in Taiwan for a few years and finally made my way to Australia where I decided to settle down since the salaries are so much better here for teachers and we keep getting pay rises as well. But I will always miss Canada as that is my home.
    Cheers and good luck!

  9. January 21, 2010 at 10:42 am

    At the moment I’ve applied for a fellowship at three American Universities and are waiting to find out where I’ll be accepted.

    Even though I won’t be rich life as a funded grad student in the US is much better than Canada, (where there is little or no funding for graduate education in the fine arts). As for professional development/publishing the same rules apply. More opportunity for development abroad.

    I do miss Canada but not the taxes and stifling opportunities for the fine arts.

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