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Salaries for PhD candidates in the public sector

Modified: June 24 2021

All PhD candidates who began after 1 May 2019 are to receive an annual salary of minimum NOK 479,000.

This minimum salary does not apply to PhD candidates who began before 1 May 2019. It is important to remember that this is a minimum salary and not a standardized one. It is possible to negotiate a higher starting salary.  

Public sector PhD candidates are also covered by a salary growth system. This system replaced the old salary framework system during the main wage settlement in 2018. The job codes 1017 PhD Candidate and 1476 Specialist Candidate are on a separate pay scale of their own. This pay scale gives them an annual salary increase of 3% for up to four years. This increment is given according to an individual’s seniority, which is calculated from the first day of the month they start in the position.  

Both members of organizations other than Akademikerne and all other individuals who are not trade union members follow a different main collective agreement (which also includes a pay scale system, salary frameworks and automatic pay raises). 

The fact that PhD candidates are on a pay scale that guarantees them a 3% annual salary increase over four years is of course no hindrance to their being able to get further salary raises through local bargaining agreements. On the contrary – they are full-fledged employees, and as such, are to be treated equally with other employees during negotiations.  

Another important point is that even if these are different systems, their benefits are similar. You see below an example of salary growth where the pay scales in the other agreement are worth NOK 7,000 more per year, while our members get NOK 7,000 a year in locally based increases:  

Because your salary is used to calculate annual pay raises, if you are able to negotiate a higher starting salary, you will benefit from doing so throughout your entire study period. This is why it is extremely important that you try to negotiate a higher starting salary for yourself.   

Since our collective agreement calculates salary increases in percentages instead of according to a table, it has a potential advantage: If you do manage to negotiate a higher starting salary, our agreement guarantees that you will still get a salary increase every year up to four years. In the other agreement – where increases are calculated according to a table – this increase has a definite ending date, meaning you will reach the ‘end’ of this table after three years and will not receive any automatic raise during the fourth year. Below you see an example of salary growth for a PhD candidate earning a starting salary of NOK 496,100.

Since the entire amount of money negotiated in the main settlement goes to local collective bargaining, local salary policies are even more important in this process. Our representatives work towards making sure that these salary policies also safeguard PhD candidates’ interests.

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Salaries in other sectors

The pay scale does not apply outside the public sector. If you are a PhD candidate at a private research institution, your salary terms are regulated by either local collective agreements or your employment contract.  


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