Submitted to: Journal of Applied Spectroscopy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2001
Publication Date: 12/1/2001
Citation: Miller-Ihli, N.J. 2001. Focus on careers: Federal Employment Opportunities for Scientists. Journal of Applied Spectroscopy. 55(12): 392A-400A
Interpretive Summary: Professor Joel Harris (Editor of Applied Spectroscopy) organized a symposium for FACSS 1999 which focused on career opportunities for spectroscopists. It was largely targeted at highlighting employment options for graduate students. I participated in that symposium and Dr. Harris subsequently asked me to prepare a Focus Article for Applied Spectroscopy entitled "Federal Employment Opportunities for Scientists". The manuscript provides information to allow individuals to determine if they might be interested in federal employment including: lists of agencies and related employment websites, information on national laboratories, career path information, and some personal experience related to support for applied research. Individuals most likely to benefit from this information include graduate students and those seeking employment. Government agencies will also benefit if this article increases awareness and interest in government research positions.
Technical Abstract: From the introduction: When you finish school and are seeking employment as a skilled scientist, there are four basic choices: academia, industry, government and fast food. If you're not interested in dealing with the public and investigating the hypothesis "Would you like fries with that?" you can pretty much eliminate the last choice. This article is targeted at providing information about scientific career choices in government based on my experiences with Federal employment over the last 25 years. In many ways Government employment is right "between" academia and industry. Federal employment offers the benefit of longer- term funding for research without the responsibility of teaching or serving on faculty committees, but like academia, you can work with graduate students and employ post-docs. If that isn't enough to entice you, where else could you analyze moon rocks (NASA), be surrounded by more gold than you could spend in a lifetime (US Treasury), work on the restoration of the original Star-Spangled Banner (Smithsonian), get to analyze evidence for a famous criminal case (FBI) or have fun playing with your food(FDA and USDA)?