3 February 2018

The salary of CNRS researchers

UPDATE 03/02/2018:
  • The class and level structure has changed in 2017, so the discussion below is no longer up to date. However, the concrete difference in terms of remuneration should not be that large.
  • I updated the value of the index point.
  • I added at the end a graph summarizing the salary progression.
In a previous post I discussed the application process for tenured research positions with the CNRS. I did not go into the details on the remuneration, but I think this information could be useful. All CNRS personnel (researchers and technical staff) are state employees. The remuneration level is publicly available, but the information is mainly in French (see e.g. here), and not very legibly presented. Once again, this is my personal understanding and not the official position of the CNRS, I am not an accountant, use at your own risk etc.

First, a vocabulary point: The hierarchy is defined by three variables. They are given below starting with the most significant; their values are listed in order of increasing seniority.
  1. The rank (corps) : CR (chargé de recherche) or DR (directeur de recherche)
  2. The class (classe) : 2, 1 and (for DRs only) CE (classe exceptionnelle)
  3. The level (échelon): from 1 to 6 for CR2 and from 1 to 9 for CR1


Since the recruitment takes place almost exclusively at the CR (chargé de recherche) rank, this is what I will discuss in the following. The remuneration is expressed in index points. At the moment, one point is worth 56.2323 €: its value has increased very slowly over the last 12 years and does not compensate the inflation rate (see the graph below). The number of points is given in this table, to be used as follows:
  1. Each level (column 1) is reached after a seniority in that particular rank indicated in the fourth column (For CR2, use the number of years since the beginning of your PhD). The seniority is cumulative: to reach the 4th CR2 level you need 1+1+1 years of experience. The number of points corresponding to the level is given in the third column (indice majoré).
  2. Multiply this number by the value of the index point and divide by 12 to obtain the "gross" monthly salary (salaire brut mensuel).1 I use the inverted commas because this amount is after some contributions and taxes. In particular, this is not the total cost of employment!
  3. Multiply by about 0.83 to obtain the net salary (salaire net). This is the amount that you will effectively receive in your bank account every month. At this point, mandatory health insurance, retirement and all other contributions have already been subtracted, but you will of course need to pay income tax.
In the most common case (evoked by Julien Tailleur in a comment to the previous post), you will be recruited as CR2 with 5-7 years of experience (since starting your PhD). You'll get one year "extra" for the doctorate, so you'll probably be at the 6th CR2 level for four years, at an index of 564, corresponding to 2600 € gross and around 2200 € net.
    Note that the administration can take a few months to validate your work experience, time during which you will be paid a first-level salary. However, once the paperwork is done, you will retroactively receive the difference starting from your first day of employment.
      After four years you'll be promoted to CR1, directly to the 4th level, at an index of 623 (the top CR2 level corresponds to the 3rd CR1 level, but some of the seniority "carries over" from one class to the next).
        For your information, the remuneration level for all CNRS positions is also available.


        Aside from the basis salary calculated above, you can also receive:
        1. A statutory bonus: Automatically attributed to all researchers, it amounts to 340 € (CR2) or 450 € (CR1) twice a year.
        2. A performance bonus: Reserved to the best and brightest (as defined by the CoNRS committees).

        Extra income

        Researchers are allowed to supplement their salary within certain limits. The most common supplementary activities are teaching and consulting.


        As a concrete example, I show below the evolution of my net annual salary (in nominal euros and inflation-corrected), including the statutory bonus. It amounts to an annual raise of 1.4% (on top of the inflation). The 2006 value is above the 2007 one because I had received an amount that was due for 2005.
        Clearly, this increase is mostly due to the seniority progression (in level and class), as the base rate (index point) progresses embarassingly slowly (much more slowly than the inflation, for instance).

        1. The gross salary can also include a small residence bonus and a family contribution (depending on the number of children), but I neglected them in the calculation. See here for more details.


        1. Thanks a lot for the info. I have a couple of questions:

          1) How often is the seniority updated? annually or monthly? In other words, if you start your contract with 1 years and 10 months of experience, does your salary change after 2 months because you reached 2 years of experience (next echelon), or do you have to wait till the end of the year or something like that?

          2) Is the system similar to determine the salary of CNRS non permanent researchers (like postdocs)?

          Thanks again!

        2. I'm up to date on the administrative stuff, so take my answers with a grain of salt:
          1) Monthly, I guess, since my salary increases did not appear in December or January. If you are a CNRS employee you can contact the human resources office at your "délégation régionale".
          2) The postdoc salary does not evolve during the contract, but the level at which one is hired depends on the seniority. See here for more details:

          1. Thanks for the answers!

          2. I know this is not a new post, but do you know how easy it is to get by on these salaries in a city in France? They seem very low compared to northern Europe and USA...

          3. Well, obviously we make do on this income (some of us even in Paris) but this is not the way to get rich. You may want to check the comments to another post:

          4. Thank you for the reply!

          5. Hi, My Salary was net 2400 euros when i was a postdoc, however I have cleared the concours this year and joined in cnrs in CR2 position . now, my quoted salary Netpay 2027 euros with an index of 518,sir my question is does CNRS reduce salary?

          6. Hi, I do not have more info than given above (see the three paragraphs starting with "In the most common case") concerning the salary increase with seniority.

            The salary can indeed be lower than your previous one if you are going from a fixed-term position to a permanent one. I believe this cannot occur when moving between two permanent (fonctionnaire) positions, but I'm not sure.

        3. This comment has been removed by the author.

        4. How does the family bonus work? And what are the limitations on supplementing salary?

          Also I was wondering whether it is a requirement to reside in France or whether one can reside elsewhere and commute (for example once a month or semester) if the lab allows it?

        5. Here are some details (in French only) about the family bonus


          and the remunerated side activities one can practice:


          In experimental sciences I would say that one must be present in the lab on a regular (daily) basis. However, practices may vary between scientific communities.