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Job Skills National Lab Jobs

  1. Sep 20, 2017 #1
    I've heard of the difficulty of getting tenure-track professorships at R1 institutions, but I am curious about the competition at national labs (staff positions). How competitive are they?

    I have just started grad school at an ivy league, for reference.
     
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  3. Sep 20, 2017 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Jobs where you direct your own research are at least as competitive.
     
  4. Sep 20, 2017 #3
    And going the other direction, jobs at national labs where you *don't* direct your own research are less competitive and more comparable to industry jobs.

    At the lab where I work, there are a variety of positions with a variety of responsibilities, and some positions more competitive than others, depending on exactly what is expected. It's much easier to get a job working on science than it is to get a job working on *your* science.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  5. Sep 20, 2017 #4

    Dr Transport

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    I was turned down for a national lab position right out of graduate school 16 years ago. I am I am now in the process of finalizing a position at one now. They are extremely competitive....
     
  6. Sep 23, 2017 #5

    analogdesign

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    The OP was comparing the competitiveness of National Lab jobs against tenure-track R1 jobs so he or she was talking about "working on *your* science". I would say it is of comparable difficulty. Also, I agree with TMFKAN64 that it is easier to get a job as a Project Scientist. A Project Scientist lives on "soft money" meaning they are paid out of someone else's grant. I've never seen one last more than a year or two. It is kind of like a super postdoc.

    However, if you're in a scientific division typically you can't work there forever. The Lab I work at has a limit of 5 years employment unless you get "tenure-track" (we call it "Career-Track".

    If you're interested in being an engineer or programmer or something it is different. In that case it is probably similar to getting a job in industry.
     
  7. Sep 26, 2017 #6

    Meir Achuz

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    Aim for a two or three year postdoctoral position at a national lab. That is the best way to get postdoctoral experience to aim for either a National Laboratory or a university permanent job. My first post doc was a teaching position at one of the leading universities. I took it because of the prestige, but it stalled my career until I later went to a national lab for several years. I wound up with tenure at a second-rank University.
     
  8. Sep 26, 2017 #7

    ZapperZ

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    National lab staff position is extremely competitive, as competitive as a university. If you are seeking positions as physicists/scientists or engineers, many US Nat'l labs have the same structure as universities, i.e. Associate Scientist, Assistant Scientist, and Scientists, in correspondence to the level of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor at universities.

    Do not be fooled by published report of the number of people that work at a US Nat'l Lab. A large number of these people are users from other institutions. This is especially true if there are user facilities on site. So many of these people at the labs are not lab employees.

    Zz.
     
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