The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Postdoctoral Research Associate Program provides for short-term, noncareer appointments to salaried positions on specific research projects. Applicants must have completed requirements for a Ph.D. degree before their employment. ARS prefers candidates with no more than 3 years of postdoctoral experience. The agency usually hires research associates at the GS- 11 or 12 grade levels. They earn vacation and sick leave at the same rate as all new employees in the Federal Government. Associates with appointments of more than 1 year are also eligible for health and life insurance benefits.
Since 1980, more than 750 people have been appointed to the 2-year ARS Postdoctoral Research Associate Program. During the past 5 years over 150 of them have competed and been selected for permanent, full-time research scientist positions. The program offers a unique opportunity for recent recipients of the doctoral degree to conduct critically needed basic research in association with some of the most prominent scientists in their field and also enables them to receive advanced and highly specialized training and experience that may not be available anywhere else.