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I think the question you need to ask is:
can I live on the pay from the renewable job? If the answer is YES, then stick with it. You could do it all your life. But if you say NO, because you are relying on money from a spouse or family member to make ends meet, then you should reconsider. You may still want to stay in the renewable job, until you are ready to risk leaving the profession (academic philosophy). But if you take the one year it may force a decision on you earlier than you want.



Lecturer salary: 34K (pretty bad)
=> Can mostly make ends meet.

VAP: Potentially 50K (but no possibility of renewal)


Hey yo
I am not in a junior position any more so I am losing touch with what one needs to live. But if you can live on 34 K stay there. I know in some American cities and college towns this is possible. But if you want to force the issue of deciding whether to stay in the profession or not, perhaps you should make the move. If you have been publishing, the fact that the one position is a V ASSISTANT P position rather than a lecturer could make a (small) difference on the market next year.


34K is pretty terrible, absolutely unethical exploitation, and if you are acquiring debt then that would be an additional reason to leave. If you can keep debt to a minimum and aren't sacrificing your health, I probably wouldn't move for one year, unless there is a HIGH chance of renewal on the VAP. At this point you are going to mainly be a candidate for teaching jobs, and I don't really think it will matter whether your previous job was lecturer or VAP. What will matter is whether you can improve your dossier, and I agree with Marcus that it's easier to do that with stability. So, despite the exploitative nature of the position, I think I would recommend sticking it out another year. Longterm gain; that 16K isn't going to make much difference in the grand scheme of your life, but getting a permanent, better job will.


The average income for a single person in the US in 2018 was a bit under 32k. Depending on where you live, 34k can be enough to make a living. If you have healthcare then it is not that bad. Most grad student live on less than 20k for 5-8 years.

I don't think a VAP is any benefit over a lecturer on the job market. (unless, of course, the VAP is a research school and you want a research job.) Unless you are thinking of leaving the profession, I would stick with the lecture job. Moving takes a huge toll in time, money, lost productivity, etc. That is something to think about.

A Philosopher

Moving can be very expensive, even if you don't hire movers. I've spent anywhere from 2-10k on moves. What is the cost of living at the new location? When going from small town to city, I've seen that rise 60-70%. Are the benefits comparable, or will the 50k/yr job only offer insurance plans with a higher premium? Also, you'll be paying noticeably more taxes on 50k/yr than 34k.

I guess the thought is that while there are plenty of situations in which that 16k/yr raise would be life-changing, there are also plenty of situations in which it would be a wash, and even more situations in which it is effectively only a 2-5k/yr raise. Factor in the time you'll have to spend on the move (physically packing, changing addresses and other paperwork, etc), the time on the job market next season, and the anxiety of not having stable employment, and it seems that the range of situations in which this move makes sense is really narrow.

Junior faculty

Another viewpoint on this - if you plan on going on the market next year, and the teaching load for the VAP is significantly lower than the lecturer (both in terms of number of preps and enrollments), then it will be much easier for you to develop your dossier in the VAP than the lecturer. You also won't have financial stress, and you'll be more confident on the market. So if the VAP will give you more space to breathe, publish, and feel financially secure, I would go for it.

A Philosopher

A final thought: if you take the VAP, and get a new philosophy job afterwards, you will likely have to make *another* cross-country move, which will also cost money. Even if you're a frugal mover, you're still likely looking at 2-4k in moving costs between the two moves, so a very good chunk of that 16k raise will go to moving expenses.

Of course, if either the current VAP or the potential future job offer relocation assistance that changes things.

Sam Duncan

I do not see any good argument for moving to the VAP gig. Even if there's a lighter teaching load there's a good chance you'll have to do new preps, which would pretty much undo the supposed advantage of the lighter load giving you more time. Keep in mind too that moving not only costs money but will take up a huge amount of mental space. Among other things you'll lose any support network from colleagues and friends you had at the lecturer gig. You also need to factor in moving expenses. I got a big pay bump for leaving my lecturer job for a full-time CC job, but while I am better off financially than before, the difference wasn't as big as I initially expected because the Hampton Roads region where I live now has a much higher cost of living than Knoxville, TN.


Another vote for paying attention to the cost of living factors and how much of a different that makes. I recently moved from a renewable VAP to a TT position and though I am making nearly double what I used to make, I moved from a low-cost-for-a-major-city location to one of the most expensive cities in North America, and the difference in my salary has gone to rent (the cost of which literally doubled). Though I am thrilled to have gotten the job that I did, I am honestly not better-off financially than I was at my old job.


RE: Sam and anonymous, I agree about the financial aspect, but I would say that a permanent position will likely have much better retirement benefits, and you future raises will be based on your starting salary, so long term you will of course be better off financially (of which I am sure you are both aware, just want to make clear for the OP and others).

As for the OPs question, since this is a one year position, the difference is probably meaningless, so take the job that's go to be better for you long term, which is probably the lecturer...

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