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Salaries of Profs. at MIT

aerofocaaerofoca Posts: 13Registered User New Member
How much do profs in engineering make at MIT? I'm just curious as to what the salaries top out at. My father is also an engineering professor so I'd like to just get a comparison. I am guessing that they start around 100k and go up to 150k. Thanks.
Post edited by aerofoca on
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Replies to: Salaries of Profs. at MIT

  • tech_fantech_fan Posts: 2,822Registered User Senior Member
    Private universities don't make salaries public. The very top profs at the very top places tend to make really large paychecks (even if you don't include consulting work, which can be very lucrative). So I would be very surprised if someone in MIT engineering isn't making $250 or $300k, because MIT has to work hard to keep those people from jumping into industry which would pay them a LOT more for the prestige value and knowledge they would bring.

    According to this dataset the average MIT full prof made $89k about ten years ago, so that translates into about $100k on average now (accounting for raises and inflation).

    Since engineering salaries are above average, your guess seems mostly right. The average enginnering prof would make somewhere between 100 and 150k, the very top outliers would make significantly more -- about double that.
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,228Super Moderator Senior Member
    All I know is that Professor Sadoway drives really fancy cars and wears expensive suits. ;)
  • aerofocaaerofoca Posts: 13Registered User New Member
    Thanks your your replies. It's nice to see that Georgia Tech offers competetive salaries, even when compared to the richer private schools. That might explain why two MIT Aero/Astro profs simultaneously defected to Georgia Tech's Aero department recently.
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,228Super Moderator Senior Member
    Actually, one of them (Feron) went down for the weather -- he had some sort of mysterious illness and needed to transfer to a warmer climate.
  • aerofocaaerofoca Posts: 13Registered User New Member
    Wow Mollie!!! You are really well informed. I don't suppose you know why professor JP Clarke headed down south? He's also currently listed on the GA Tech AE Faculty website. BTW, if you don't mind, could you ask your bf which prof in Aero/Astro at MIT in the Flight Mechanics area is nice to work with and has projects? I'm thinking if all goes well this year, i want to do summer research at MIT even if it's not for pay or credit. Hopefully ,that may lead to better grad school prospects there. Thanks a lot.
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Posts: 12,228Super Moderator Senior Member
    Haha, I only know about Feron because he used to be my boyfriend's advisor/airplane buddy. :D

    He says the two largest research groups in the department are the Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory (Drela and Wilcox) and the Aerospace Controls Laboratory (Howe and Deyst). Any of those four would be fun and nice to work with.
  • Not quite oldNot quite old Posts: 244Registered User Junior Member
    Ben,

    I think you are a bit off. The 2004-05 AAUP survey put the average MIT salary (all fields) at $135K for full profs. It's probably higher because of the high cost of housing in Boston and because the top end of the market has really heated up. There's a lot of poaching by good schools in cheaper cost-of-living areas. [A decade ago a prospective junior faculty member came back from a discussion with Harvard and said to me at the AEA "I wonder if the salary comes with food stamps."]

    In Econ, the top schools are offering $180K to medium strong Fulls and well over $260K to the stars. Bernanke was officially at $289K when he left Princeton. My guess is engineering is similar or only slightly lower.
  • tech_fantech_fan Posts: 2,822Registered User Senior Member
    Ack! Thanks for the correction. That number I googled up was way off. I thought it seemed low. I imagine Econ is doing a little better than engineering, but it gives a good ballpark idea.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    I said it before, I'll say it again. Salaries for tenured profs in technical disciplines at schools like MIT are really almost beside the point, because they can make far far more off their side consulting work or involvement with VC firms, hedge funds, startup companies, and so forth.

    To give you an example, Richard Schmalensee, an economist by training and currently Dean of the Sloan School, specializes in antitrust regulation. He almost certainly made millions by testifying as an expert witness in antitrust trials, most notably in US vs. Microsoft, where he served as a star expert witness for Microsoft to demonstrate that Microsoft was not 'really' a monopoly. Ironically, Schmalensee's old doctoral advisor, Frank Fisher, who is also a professor at MIT (in the Economics department) testified at the same trial, but in favor of the government.

    Almost any MIT tenured engineering prof can make substantial money through involvement in Boston's high-tech startup community, either by starting companies themselves, or becoming a principal or advisor in a local venture capital firm, or by agreeing to serve on the Boards of various high-tech companies, or so forth. Many of them are millionaires because of this work. That's why I say that professor salaries are almost beside the point. I doubt that any professor is going to want to move over even a 25-50k jump in salary. If money is the issue, then it's really a matter of finding a place where you can do more lucrative sidework. Hence, that may mean moving to a place that allows you to produce the research that you like to do that will also attract more consulting clients.
  • Not quite oldNot quite old Posts: 244Registered User Junior Member
    I think you're making an important mistake Sakky. Having been involved in hiring negotiations I can tell you that many professors put a high value on getting a higher salary and NOT doing anything differently than they're doing now. You can say that's their choice to overlook consulting and you would be right. But you're mistaken if you think an extra 50K in a pure research position isn't a draw for some people. Maybe they could have made an extra 100k consulting and being in their current job but they often don't want to do that. People often value not having to change their styles. And those people are prime candidates for a school that will offer more. And we do in fact, exploit those preferences...
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    Ha! Sounds to me like it's really just a negotiating ploy. Obviously if you can do exactly the same thing you've always been getting, and still get 50k more, the you should take the 50k more.

    However, what I am saying is the real key is are you really going to be able to do exactly the same thing you've always been doing. I would say that this is particularly true of the side consulting work, which is where the REAL money is made. The truth is, a lot of consulting jobs, VC firms, startup companies, and the like are choosing to engage with MIT profs PRECISELY because they are MIT profs. In other words, they're "renting" the MIT name. For example, the mere fact that a startup company has gotten the stamp of approval from a bunch of MIT profs may convince investors to chip in a lot of money. Hence, that startup is going to pay handsomely to get that stamp of approval.

    Hence, what I am saying is that the poaching will happen between top schools, but not so much from a top school to a lesser school. For example, MIT, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Berkeley, Caltech - these are all top engineering schools so I can definitely see people jumping around for 50k more. But if some lesser school were to try to poach MIT profs, I doubt that many would go, even if that lesser school offered double or even triple salaries. A few might go, but not many. That's because those MIT profs would realize that while they might make more on salary, they would lose the 'consulting-cachet' of being a prof from an elite school. Hence, a lot of their lucrative sidework would dry up.

    Look, my point is, many MIT tenured profs, and almost certainly a majority, have extensive side businesses. This is clearly the most true at business schools - I would say that almost every tenured prof at the Sloan School engages in side work. The Sloan School has deep and long-standing ties to the Boston high tech corridor and to the Boston financial community. This is also mostly true in Economics Departments. This is also mostly true in the tech departments with 'hot' growth potential, such as EECS, BioEngineering, Biology, Materials Science. Even some of the more staid tech departments like Physics or Mechanical Engineering nevertheless nevertheless have extensive opportunities for technical consulting.
  • tech_fantech_fan Posts: 2,822Registered User Senior Member
    that while they might make more on salary, they would lose the 'consulting-cachet' of being a prof from an elite school.

    NQO's entire point was that the double and triple salaries (or even 50K extra) might draw profs who don't do any consulting and don't plan to. So consulting cachet doesn't matter to them.

    You continue to assume that just because profs CAN consult for extra money, they want to or will. Some profs are firmly in a non-consulting category and so, for them, base salary matters.
  • Not quite oldNot quite old Posts: 244Registered User Junior Member
    I should note that places like NYU and BU econ have at various times lured away very well-known people with lucrative offers from schools like Harvard, Stanford and Princeton.

    Besides Sakky, I'm not going to give away all our recruiting secrets. (Evil grin.) There's going to be a lot of shifting around of econ faculties in the next few years.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    NQO's entire point was that the double and triple salaries (or even 50K extra) might draw profs who don't do any consulting and don't plan to. So consulting cachet doesn't matter to them.

    I agree with this, but I seriously question just how many profs are in this category. Like I said, in the technical disciplines, I strongly suspect that the very majority of the tenured profs at the better schools tend to do substantial sidework.
    I should note that places like NYU and BU econ have at various times lured away very well-known people with lucrative offers from schools like Harvard, Stanford and Princeton.

    First of all, NYU and BU aren't exactly the greatest examples. After all, NYU Econ is ranked #15, BU is ranked #25 (or 17 and 21 if you want to use the NRC rankings). So it's not like it's a huge step down. This point would be far more poignant if you were talking about somebody from Harvard going to a program ranked around #100 or something.

    Secondly, the key phrase there is 'at various times'. Which basically means that it's a rare occurrence. Can it happen sometimes? Of course. Is it likely? Not really, and it generally takes a lot to make it happen. For example, you usually have to promise not only a very serious hike in salary, but also a directorship of some new research program, or greatly reduced teaching load or some other huge fillip.

    In other words, what I'm saying is that if you want to get a guy to move from a top school to a lower one, you have to compensate him for everything, including the lost sidework potential from leaving that top school. The point I want to emphasize is the sidework potential, something that many observers tend to miss. That often times represents the vast majority of many profs pay.

    And even of those profs that don't do sidework, the fact is, they know that they COULD, so when it comes down to negotiating a deal to move to another school, you know that those profs are going to want to be compensated for the lost earning potential of that sidework, even if they know in their hearts that that they would never use that potential because they don't want to use sidework. That's how negotiations work. You want to use every weapon at your disposal to negotiate for as much as you can.
  • Dad2B'2010Dad2B'2010 Posts: 576Registered User Member
    I'd be really surprised if ANY tenured professor at MIT makes less than $150k/year base. A more likely minimum is $200k (for the majority, anyway) IMHO.
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