How Much Does It Cost to Get a Tenure Track Job?

If you’re lucky, about $2300.

I finished my PhD last summer. Realizing that it was my last year of grad school, I spent a good chunk of time in the late fall and winter 09-10 filing job applications. I sent about 50 of these out and most of them required postage, as well as a fee for the reference letter service at Michigan. The fee averaged about 10 dollars per. Many were more, but a few only asked for limited materials by email. Of those 50, I got a phone interview and campus visit for a TT job; a phone interview (and campus visit invite) for a TT job; and an offer of a VAP (which I accepted). I did not get any AHA interviews, so I didn’t go and had no costs there — all the interest came later, in the spring. Once I scheduled the campus visit (in April) I had to go clothes shopping. I bought a decent but fairly cheap suit, shirt, tie, and a decent pair of shoes, all of which ran me about 400 dollars. I ran about 50 dollars of expenses on the trip not covered by or submitted to the institution. About $950 for a visiting position. (It cost about $3000 to move; this is tax deductible.)

This year I geared up for the job search again. Based on the response from last year I applied much more selectively — 6 applications, about 10 dollars cost per application. However, I got much more attention this year and so planned to go to the AHA (about $150 registration). I combined my conference trip with a research trip, so I’d say about 250 dollars for part of a sublet and plane ticket. My cheap spring suit from last year was no good, so I had to buy some nice slacks and a good new suit, shirt, and tie — 800 dollars all told. Another 100 dollars of incidentals. $1360 on the year and I got a TT offer I accepted, with the two-year total of about $2300 out of pocket. I get a moving allowance but haven’t moved yet, so we’ll see if it runs over.

Grad students, be forewarned that getting a job (if you’re that lucky) is not cheap.

UPDATED: My household has been packed up and moved into storage in Virginia while I am overseas with my family. I had a $2500 moving allowance, which did not cover all my expenses — about $3500. However, this wasn’t directly an expense of getting the job, so I won’t revise my total. I reiterate the advice of The Professor Is In, that if and when you receive an offer from an institution, you should think about what they are proposing and consider whether you should ask for more.

Once you receive these, decide what you’re going to come back with in negotiation. Because, you ALWAYS come back asking for more. You are entitled. It is expected. Do not miss this one-time-only opportunity to negotiate greater gain for yourself and your family.

I made other requests, but it would have been very reasonable for me to ask for a larger moving allowance.