The platform for Belgium's international community

Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Wage watchers: how much does a scientific researcher earn?

12:40 29/05/2013

Scientific researcher Bart Van de Vijver, 38, from Aartselaar talks about what he earns and how he spends it


What do you do for a living?

Together with my three colleagues we research diatoms. These are unicellular algae which are producers within the food chain.We research new types of diatoms and map the changes in the context of global warming. Diatoms look like camembert boxes and are no more than a tenth or even a hundredth of a millimetre in size. Microscopic algae produce more oxygen than all rainforests put together.

Do you enjoy your work?

I am passionate about research and nature. Sometimes I feel like a detective, and get a real kick out of discovering something new. I have already named a diatom after a friend, and she has named three after me! Yes, the job can be a tad monotonous, but it’s what you make of it. I see half the world, and I have foreign colleagues stay at my house all the time. I happily pick up the tab when that happens, because I find most multicultural exchanges fascinating.

What do you think of your salary?

I take home €2,800 a month plus, as a civil servant, a monthly gross bonus of €166 for being bilingual. If I’d wanted to be rich, I shouldn’t have become a researcher. Many Dutch colleagues earn more than we do, for example. It’s not as if I earn a little something extra when I discover a new species! (laughs)

What does the biggest chunk of your salary go towards?

Heating bills.

What do you gladly pay for?

My partner and I love to travel and we like to fit in a weekend away whenever possible. Trying out new fine dining restaurants from time to time is also a favourite of ours.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Then I’d buy an electron microscope – they cost €600,000. At the moment I have to go to London if I want to use one. Which is not that bad really.


Written by The Bulletin