Fair Compensation and Benefits
The contributions of fellows are an integral part of the research output of the NIH. In fact, collectively, we do the majority of the research work that takes place at the NIH. However, our pay does not reflect the value of our contributions to research, nor does it allow us to afford high cost of living areas. A living wage for a single adult without dependents in the DC Metro Area is $46,339, which is above all postbaccalaureate pay steps. For an adult supporting a child it is $89,202, which is more than most postdoctoral fellows make.
Some types of fellows have pay that falls in a range determined by experience, but report that they do not understand how their individual pay is set within that range. There can be significant discrepancies between research groups, and NCI fellows are categorically paid more than non-NCI fellows, even when doing substantially similar work.
Pay is also an equity issue. The low pay for fellows can be a barrier for people from marginalized backgrounds trying to start a career in research. Lack of transparency in compensation can lead to hidden discriminatory pay practices.