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How to find a Postdoc Position in the USA? Simple Facts which would help you.

Updated: May 22

In this blog, I will explain how to find a postdoc position or postdoctoral fellowship in the USA. There are multiple ways to find a postdoc position in the USA, and this post will help you understand the process briefly.

Before we start, let me provide a brief introduction about myself. I found a postdoc position at the University of California in the USA. Before landing this postdoc position, I completed my Ph.D. in South Korea and my Master's in India.

Table of Contents: Postdoc Position USA

How to Find Postdoc Positions (USA)

These are the most successful ways to find postdoc positions in the USA:

  • University Website: One of the most common methods is to visit the websites of universities you are interested in. For example, if you are interested in UCSD (University of California, San Diego), you can go to the UCSD website and search for research positions.

  • Professor's Lab Websites: Sometimes, not all jobs are posted on job websites. Certain professors have their lab websites listing the job openings, so it's essential to check those too. You might also find the same job postings on university or institute websites.

  • Email Directly: Another effective approach is to email professors directly. You can often find their email addresses on LinkedIn or within the job description. When reaching out, make sure to personalize your email, briefly introduce yourself, highlight your research background, and explain why you are interested in their work.

  • Current Academic Network: Leverage your Ph.D. advisor and committee members for recommendations. They can often connect you with colleagues or provide valuable advice on where to apply.

It's best to do your homework and determine which universities or labs you're interested in. Keep an eye on their job listings and apply regularly.

Identify potential advisors whose research aligns with your interests by reading their recent publications. Tailor your email to highlight how your skills and interests match their work.

When I applied for my first postdoc, the job was posted on the institute's website. There, I found the professor's email address, and they requested that I send my resume/CV.

I was interested in the ongoing projects in the lab, which motivated me to apply. However, there are other methods as well. Some individuals apply for their funding with a professor in the US and then join the lab if the funding is approved.

Occasionally, two international professors have collaborations, offering an opportunity to come to the US. There are various paths to explore, but I'm sharing the simplest approach based on my experience.

In most cases, when applying for a postdoc position in the US, you'll be required to email your CV directly to the professor. Therefore, you should compose a well-crafted cover letter, attach your CV, and send it to the PI.

Postdoc Interview Process

The postdoc interview process can vary depending on the institution and the PI leading the lab. However, these are the common things you can expect:

  • Application Review: First, the PI reviews your submitted application, including your CV, cover letter, research statement, and letters of recommendation, and assesses your qualifications, research experience, and fit with the lab's current projects.

  • First Contact: If the professor finds your CV suitable for the position, he will arrange an interview for you. HR will send an email to discuss your availability.

  • Interview: This is often a phone or video interview (e.g., Zoom, Skype). During the interview, the PI might request a presentation of your Ph.D. or previous postdoc work. Occasionally, there could be one-on-one interviews with the professor, followed by presenting your prior work to the lab. Alternatively, you might give a direct presentation to all lab members. The format depends entirely on the professor's preference.

  • Offer: If selected, you will receive a formal offer, which includes details about the salary, benefits, start date, and any other conditions to review and sign.

Postdoc Hiring Process

If your interview goes well and the professor is interested in hiring you, you will likely receive an email within a week or two from HR to initiate the hiring process. In summary, the postdoc hiring process involves:

  • Receiving an offer letter for signing

  • Obtaining a DS-2019 form

  • Receiving instructions for paying the SEVIS fee

  • Getting guidance for completing the DS-160 form

  • Receiving details for scheduling an interview/biometric date

  • Obtaining information on getting the visa

  • Following other necessary steps

Here is a sample SEVIS fee structure. Please note that the SEVIS fee amount may change in the future, refer to the USCIS website for the latest updates.

uscis sevis fee

Postdoc Salary in the USA

The average postdoc salary in the USA is $60,000 per year. Entry-level positions may start as low as $47,000, while more experienced postdocs could earn up to $79,000 annually.

Salaries can vary significantly from university to university and even across different states in the US. You can typically find the salary scale on the university's website.

For example, the University of California, Riverside salary scale looks like the following.

postdoc salary california

Other Benefits

You also receive additional benefits, such as health insurance for your family, housing, and reduced-rate daycare facilities for children, among others. These benefits will vary for each university or institute.

Postdoc Visa Type (USA)

Most likely, you will receive a J1 visa and be subject to the 2-year home residency rule, also known as the 212e rule. I have written a blog about the J1 visa, the 212e rule, and how to obtain a waiver from the 212e rule, which we will discuss in upcoming blogs.

However, there are instances where they might sponsor an academic H1B visa instead of a J1 visa. The decision to grant you a J1 visa or academic H1B will depend on your university's or institute's international office.

That's all for this blog. Next, we will discuss the eligibility and requirements for a J1 visa. Please feel free to drop me a line in the comments section below and I will try to answer your queries. Also, if you found any of these blogs helpful, please consider donating. Readers like you encourage me to write daily.

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