What's Your Hourly Rate?
Dear Research Strategists:
How much should you be paid for one hour of your time? If you’re like most scholars, you charge $0 per hour of your time. Or, you don’t know your hourly rate.
To illustrate, I’ve been part of 67 talks. I charged $0 for all of these talks, with one exception. I was paid last year to speak at the Toronto International Festival of Authors. I was so excited about being paid for a talk that I took a photo of the check. Here’s a photo of me pushing my youngest in a stroller and heading straight to the bank.
[Photo of an honorarium check.]
You may not know your hourly rate. Money is a taboo topic in academia. Colleagues will say, don’t ask for money for talks. Talks are service. You get paid indirectly for talks.
These statements support dangerous limiting beliefs: Money doesn’t matter. A true scholar persists because they love learning.
I don’t buy this narrative. Money matters. In my house, money pays for hockey lessons and preschool. If we don’t acknowledge that money matters, we are locking out talented scholars from our fields. We are creating systems that don’t support ALL of us.
Let’s change this. As a first step, let’s talk about hourly rates. You need to know what your time is worth. This is true for talks. And it’s especially true in grant writing, where you put a price on your time. If you consult on a grant, you need to tell people how much your hourly rate should be. Consultants are usually paid by the hour (although sometimes you will get a flat rate for the full project).
- Betty’s hourly rates. My honorarium for the festival above was $300 Canadian for 1 hour. For grants, my hourly consulting rate is $200 - $250/hour. When I was a postdoctoral fellow, my rate was $100 - $150/hour. I adjust my consulting rate depending on project scope, topic, intensity, and timeline. And I am about to adjust my consulting rate upwards now that I am firmly mid-career.
- Public hourly rates. Here’s a rough spreadsheet of public hourly rates for biostatisticians. I pulled biostatistician rates because biostatisticians tend to openly post their hourly rates. As you can see in the spreadsheet, hourly rates differ based on expertise level. Faculty and more experienced consultants charge between $129 - $296 per hour. Students/staff charge between $60 - $150 per hour.
- How much should you charge? There’s no universal right answer. You are unique. Your expertise has different values to different people, and projects differ in size and intensity. Talk to peers and mentors you trust. Ask about market rates. You have two baselines above (my rates plus public rates) as a starting point. And consider how you value your time. This is your career. You decide how to spend your time, not the market.
Silence about money does not serve us. Silence serves the status quo. I hope this post gives you permission to ask questions and to talk about money. In a future newsletter, I’ll give you scripts for having conversations about money. I know this is a hard skill.
As always, happy grant writing, colleagues! Hope to see you all online.
P.S. If you know someone who might benefit from this newsletter, would you mind sharing it with them? I believe talking about money and strategies for success makes academia a more welcoming space.
P.P.S. Do you have a pet? I adopted Ender in graduate school. Ender helped me get through my dissertation.
[Picture of an orange tabby cat.]