Monday, February 2, 2009

Looking for an Alternative Science career?

Now might be your chance! While lots of jobs are being lost elsewhere, the US government continues to hire.
A report released in January by Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, an economic policy adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, predicted that more than 90 percent of the 3 million to 4 million jobs that Obama proposes to save or create would be in the private sector.

But the report also estimated that 244,000 government jobs — some at the federal level, but more at the state and local level — would be created or saved.
A federal job comes with some nice perks.
... job security, health and life insurance, a federal retirement program, paid vacations and leave and other benefits.
I'll blog more on life as a federal employee in the near future. I promise!


Phiala said...

Job security? My USDA lab was under serious threat of closure last year, and we're not safe yet.

It's certainly not any worse than academia or industry in terms of job security, though, and as you say there are many perks.

But I do miss spring break!

I like the idea of this blog, and I hope to see more content in the future. I didn't even know the USDA had a research branch, or that it employed 2200 scientists in a variety of disciplines, until I ended up working there.

Thomas Joseph said...


Yes, there were several sites which were under threat of closure. However, if I'm totally in the loop, those closures mean that some (or most?) of the people who are employed there are given the option to relocate. Now, that's often not ideal, but it is an option.

As for spring break ... I'm at the point in my career where I collect 6 hours of vacation time (annual leave) every 2 weeks, so throughout the year it's definitely possible to take spring break anyways!

Phiala said...

We were told that displaced scientists have high priority for available positions, in an administrative preference system similar to that given military vets. However, that assumes that there are available jobs in a field I'm even vaguely qualified for, and would certainly require relocation. In practice, it is more a nice-sounding benefit than a useful one. I do hope I won't have to find out.

I'm in the same leave class, but my unit is on a university campus, and it's a bit depressing to have the entire rest of campus empty while we all work.

The bean-mom said...


Glad to see some activity here! I'll be looking forward to more posting on your job in government research (and Phiala, interesting to hear your perspective--hope that everything works out your USDA job...)

infinite science said...

Strangely, I saw postings about jobs in the "new economy" on a knitting forum I regularly read. Yes, knitting forum. Well, it's a group of "scientific knitters" so perhaps that explains it?

Regardless, this is what they had to say: "

CDC is gearing up to hire a lot of new people from the stimulus package money - this is a big deal because there has been a hiring freeze for years. CDC employs a variety of scientists (epidemiologists, biostatisticians, behavioural scientists, microbiologists, molecular biologists, chemists, and other disciplines). If you’re interested, check out in the new few weeks/months. For some positions, telecommuting will likely be an option.

And other federal agencies are likely to be hiring as well."

So perhaps those that always wanted to work at the CDC have a chance?

The Mad Chemist said...

There is also the issue of the scientific views of the current administration.

Many of my friends in govt posts during the last administration really discouraged others from applying for jobs as the atmosphere was described as "chilly". Never before had they experienced politics with such a far reach. Even entry level folks felt it at the NIH.

Hopefully, this will turn around with the new admin.

Thomas Joseph said...

For giggles I've been keeping up on microbiology positions within the government. As of last week there were almost 20. There were a large number of interdisciplinary positions (positions where for example they'd take a microbiologist, or a chemist, or a geneticist ... they're looking for the best candidate) at the NIH posted. So there are definitely positions open.

From what we've heard through the pipeline as well, the EPA is due to see an influx of cash as it's not being seen as the "red headed stepchild" any longer. That will open up a number of positions as well.

Rhea Miller said...

Thanks for keeping my hopes alive T