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I am finishing my first year in a Bioinformatics research position at a hospital. I have a contract renewal meeting coming up and I'm trying to decide how much of a raise to ask for. I've read suggestions online, but there are some points making it difficult for me to come up with a number that I feel good about:

  • All members of my department are on 1-year contracts which get renewed each year. Despite this, the jobs are essentially 'permanent', contracts are rarely not renewed; usually only when there is a performance issue.
  • Salary funding comes from the hospital (donations etc.) and research grants. I get the sense that the lab is doing well in terms of funding.
  • When I started this job last year, I asked for $40-60K starting salary. I was told that this was a low request, and was given $70K starting.
  • From what I've read, people in this job usually start somewhere around $70-80K. However, I was relatively under-qualified for the job when I started.
  • I believe most of my supervisors feel that I am a good job. I feel that I am doing 70% as good as I could be doing.
  • I believe the work I'm doing is easier than the work other people in my position are doing.
  • I've heard that people usually get a 3-5% raise each year, but this was second hand from a single person in my department.

With all this in mind, how much of a raise should I ask for? 5%, 10%, more?

I know there are other questions similar to this, I'm looking for an answer that takes into account the research funding situation. Also, there is very limited data on what other people in this type of position make in my area as it is a rare/specialized job (which is why I asked for too little originally).

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    Possible duplicate of How can I determine a reasonable salary to ask for? – gnat Feb 7 at 14:19
  • @Fattie really? You are suggesting a ~30% raise after 1 year. I am quite sure that would not happen, I believe others in my department with the same title and 5-10 years experience make less than $100K. I also don't have offers from any other companies to use as leverage, nor do I expect that I could find many other offers over $90K. – srcerer Feb 7 at 14:50
  • I guess my answer is not clearly written - what I am saying is, it's not so much that you need a "raise" - as that you need to break up to that next level. There is a "first job syndrome" which one has to break out of. (As I explain in the answer, the usual way to do this is to change companies - it's like "leaving home".) If you don't make that "break" now, you will have to do so in the next year or two; you'll remain stuck at this level until you do so. (You work in the world's most lucrative and most over-funded field - none of this should be an issue.) – Fattie Feb 7 at 15:27
  • As you say in your 2nd comment below - in short "this could be difficult". Fair enough. Maybe it's time to move to another area - I don't know. It's worth bearing in mind though if you "put this off" you are just "putting it off". Anyway! Enjoy! – Fattie Feb 7 at 15:29
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This is completely your choice, you ask for what you feel you are worth in the current market based off your skills and experience.

Personally 5% would be reasonable and you can build your way up each year. As your colleague told you 3-5% is quite normal for most high skilled/paying jobs. However if you feel the lab is doing well in terms of funding why not shoot your shot and go for 10%.

If you were under qualified at the start of last year I recommend against asking for more than 10%. If you start with 10% and then you can always negotiate with your employer.

  • Thanks, this was my exact plan before writing the question. Would upvote but I am a noob. – srcerer Feb 7 at 14:51
  • The OP works in literally, the most lucrative, over-funded, field on Earth. I would just caution, don't be "fooled" in to unnecessarily low pay, by the company. For an eye-opening experience, dig in to the financials of the company or division or office, and observe the flood, torrent, of money you are a small part of. – Fattie Feb 7 at 15:36
  • @Fattie Even if you're correct (although people don't become billionaires in research jobs), it says nothing about where the OP is. That may be considerably different. – David Thornley Feb 7 at 17:19
  • Almost everyone has to move, especially in the early part of their career. It shouldn't be an issue. – Fattie Feb 7 at 18:09
  • @Fattie OP asked for 40k. He was given 70k. He most definitely hasn't been "fooled" into unnecessarily low pay – Twyxz Feb 8 at 7:24

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