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Friday, May 9, 2008


High-Paid Jobs at FDA

Stuck in a postdoc? Economic times like these breed despondency, not hope, but even dark clouds have silver linings.

In response to a number of recent crises, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced plans to make 1317 new hires, including "hundreds with science and medical backgrounds." Many of the hires will be made at the postdoctoral level. According to a press release, the "critical need occupations are medical officers, consumer safety officers, chemists, nurse consultants, biologists, microbiologists, health/regulatory/general health scientists, mathematical statisticians, epidemiologists, pharmacologists, pharmacists, and veterinary medical officers."

Positions will be available throughout the agency, including the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (133 positions), the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (663 positions), the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (116 positions), the Center for Food Safety and Nutrition (104 positions), the Center for Veterinary Medicine (34 positions), the National Center for Toxicological Research (22 positions), the Office of the Commissioner, and the Office of Regulatory Affairs (245 positions). "Many of these positions are located in the Washington metropolitan area, as well as across the country in the FDA's five regions, 20 districts, more than 179 resident posts, and the newly created FDA offices overseas," according to the press release.

Kim Holden, FDA's assistant commissioner for management, says the majority of these posts will be in the DC area ("specifically Rockville, Silver Spring, and College Park, Maryland," she says) Exceptions are the Office of Regulatory Affairs, which is hiring for positions nationwide, and the National Center for Toxicological Research, which is located in Jefferson, Arkansas. According to Holden, many of these positions can be filled by people with a wide range of education and experience, from a bachelor's degree on up. But scientists with Ph.D.s will be competitive for most of the positions and can expect to earn a salary commensurate with their training and experience.

Specifically, Holden says that a scientist with an a relevant Ph.D. and (for example) 2 years postdoctoral experience probably would be hired at either the GS13 or the GS14 level on the government pay scale. Government scales vary by region; in the Washington, DC area, GS13 starts at about $83,000 while GS14 starts at $98,000 annually. Higher salaries can be negotiated in special circumstances. For scientists with clinical degrees, the "Title 38 medical officer" pay system applies, Holden says, which allows FDA to compete with the private sector when hiring people with medical credentials. The FDA also offers loan repayment programs, flexible schedules, a work-from-home program, and the ability to negotiate advanced credit toward annual leave. U.S. citizenship is required.

A working group at FDA "has prepared a strategy for recruiting the best talent available, through job fairs, conferences, etc. that focus on these disciplines," according to a backgrounder released by FDA.

FDA expects to fill its open positions during the current fiscal year, which ends on 30 September. The hiring is expected to continue in 2009.


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