Go Gov – Finding a Job in the Federal Government

October 1, 2015

Looking for a job in the federal government? If so, be sure to check out many of the resources offered through OITE, including:

1. How to Find and Read Job Ads

USAjobs has a reputation for being hard to search, but if you take some time to familiarize yourself , you might find it is not that bad. This blog post will help you identify how to look for some keywords and job titles that work for you.

2. Which Federal Agencies and Contractors Hire Scientists?

This blog post details a list of federal agencies and contractors which often hire biomedical scientists.

3.  Government Jobs for Scientists

A must watch YouTube video which gives a comprehensive but quick overview of careers for doctoral-level biomedical scientists. This video discusses the different types of jobs, both at and away from the bench with the US Government.

Outside of the OITE, the Partnership for Public Service has many resources to check out. A good place to start would be their page on working in the federal government.



September 9, 2013

Piece of paper with the words "Government Jobs" in boldWhich agencies hire scientists?

While the OITE is an NIH entity, great science happens in other divisions all across government.  Almost all of these places hire scientists for both bench and non-bench positions.  Non-bench positions can include: science administration (grants management from almost every agency, managing research programs, career development training), science policy (how innovative science is completed and promoted), regulation (determining if a drug is safe or an agricultural product is good for the environment).

Here is a list of government agencies hiring biomedical scientists. The list is not complete, and we would love your feedback on ones we missed!

National Institutes of Health (NIH): The NIH hires scientists for both bench and non-bench positions in the intramural research program (IRP), as well as non-bench positions within the division of extramural science, which manages the grants process in order to fund science around the country and the world.

Department of Health & Human Services (HHS): As the parent agency of the NIH, this organization hires scientists to do administrative jobs understanding how to improve health care and fund science for America.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC):  This agency is tasked with disease prevention and protection.  They have labs to understand the mechanisms of diseases and infectious agents, both at the bench and through epidemiology.  They also have administration jobs to help set policies and run the organization.

Food & Drug Administration (FDA): Most of the time people think of the FDA as only regulatory review; however, they have writing jobs, policy jobs, and science administration.  In addition, the FDA does a large amount of bench research in areas critical to the FDA mission. View more details here.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): The USDA has the Agriculture Research Service, it’s division of lab positions.  There are also many laboratories across the US and the world to test our food supply safety.

National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA): NASA has an entire division set aside for biological research.

Department of Defense (DOD): The Department of Ddefense has many research programs housed in each branch of the military, and you can apply as a civilian (or opt to join the service).  These research programs focus on welfare of the military (protection and prevention), and also general labs for hospitals and forensics.  Also, there may even be faculty opportunities at the Academies.

Public Health Service: This is an all officer core tasked with protecting public health.  They have opportunities for scientists, clinicians, dentists, nurses, vets, and public health people.  (Note: at the moment they are only recruiting for medical officers).  Scientists in this group work all kinds of jobs both at the bench and away from the bench in the NIH, CDC, EPA and other government agencies.

Uniformed Services of the Health Sciences University (USHSU): The medical/dental university of the armed services, which is located on the campus of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  This is a medical school with positions for faculty member (including research programs), and other types of academic support positions.

Veterans Affairs (VA): Bench based positions will be within the hospital laboratory systems.  Non-bench jobs can include policy and administration to improve the lives of American’s veterans.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA hires scientists to understand how things in our environment will affect humans and the world in which we live.  There are bench jobs examining environmental factors to our health, both from a basic science perspective from the NC facility and also from labs strategically placed around the country.  Administration jobs can range from science policy, grants administration, regulation, and more.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): This organization reviews all patents submitted to the U.S. government.  Scientists review these patents according to their area of discipline.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): The FBI hires scientists as special agents and also to do research in the core labs (such as DNA forensics).

US Congress and Executive Branch: There are policy based jobs helping us guide science through the political process both in the US and abroad.  Congress has whole committees dedicated to science (like the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee or the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee).  The Executive Branch has the Office of Science and Technology Policy and also science policy within the State Department.


Now, many people think that the only way to get a job with the government is to go through USAjobs.gov.  Not true!  Most offices also use a variety of contracting firms to help fill openings (for example at the NIH we often use Kelly Scientific and SAIC).  Contracting jobs are a great way to get your foot in the door and gain additional skill sets to make you even more competitive for a federal position.   They are also typically hired much faster than positions within the federal system, and may or may not have the same citizenship requirements.  Most offices treat contractors just the same as they do federal employees, so do not feel like this is not a good option to help move your career forward.

Here is a list of contracting firms to explore; again, sure we missed some but this is a terrific start. (table adapted from the Navy)

Contractors * Web Link
Alutiiq LLC http://www.alutiiq.com/
Booz Allen Hamilton http://www.boozallen.com/
CAMRIS International http://www.camris.com/
Colette Inc. http://www.colette-inc.com
Destiny Management Services http://www.destinymgmtsvcs.com/
General Dynamics Information Technology http://www.gdit.com/
Kelly Scientific http://www.kellyservices.com/global/science/
KForce http://www.kforce.com/
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation (HJF) http://www.hjf.org/
Lab Support http://www.labsupport.com/
Lab Pros http://www.labprosinc.com/
Management Consulting Inc. (MANCON) http://www.manconinc.com/
The McConnell Group http://www.themccgroup.com
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) http://orise.orau.gov/
Research Triangle Institute International (RTI) http://www.rti.org/
Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) http://www.saic.com/
TechFlow http://www.techflow.com/
Yoh Scientific http://jobs.yoh.com/

* Posting of these contractor names does not constitute endorsement by NIH OITE.


Two-Part Series on Government Jobs — PART ONE: HOW TO FIND & READ JOB ADS

August 22, 2013

Federal jobs, positions where you are an employee of the government, are all listed at USAjobs.gov.  This website is a one-stop shop for all positions across the entire US government.  There are other opportunities to work with the government, one of the largest being a contractor, which we will talk about more in Part Two.

USAjobs has a reputation of being hard to search, but it is not that bad.  Take some time to familiarize yourself with the site and find some keywords and job titles that work for you.

Some Job Search Tips:

    Occupations are classified in the government system based on what you do, for example biomedical scientists will typically be in the 400 (biology), or the 600 (medical, hospital, dental, and public health) series.  A recent search for the 400 series brought up 255 openings across the US.  The list can also be sorted based on college major
    You can refine your search by pay grade, or the salary level that you expect to be paid.  We are seeing bachelor level scientists starting at a pay level of GS-07, master’s level at a pay grade of GS-09, and PhDs at a pay level of GS-12.  This is not to say any of these are guaranteed and you may want a job that is above or below these pay scales.
    After you log in to your USAjobs account, you will want to set up a few saved job search agents.  From the home page, click on the “Advanced Search” tab which allows you to search by: keyword, occupation series, geographic location, salary range, specific agencies, and much more. When asked to create a name for this saved search, you can enter whatever phrase will help jog your memory, such as: “Science Policy in DC” or “San Diego Scientist.” You will have the option to select to receive email notifications (daily, weekly, or monthly) when new positions are posted that match your saved search criteria. It is highly recommended that you utilize this option. Usually the weekly option is best since you will still see what is being posted but your inbox won’t be inundated by emails. You can create and save up to ten different search agents, so try to make each one as different as possible which will enable you to receive that widest variety of matches.

To help clarify these tips, let’s take apart a recent job at the FDA posted on USAjobs.gov.

Reading a Job Ad:


Lots more information can be found at OPM’s website.  Be sure to continue checking the blog for part two in this series — Government Jobs: Part 2// Which Federal Agencies & Contractors Hire Scientists?

Disclaimer: The information expressed in this post is solely the views and opinions of the OITE authors and do not necessarily reflect the official hiring policies of any agency of the U.S. government.