Post doc versus faculty positions?

futureapppsy2

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    Hi,

    For those research-oriented people, how did you decide rather to apply to post-docs or faculty positions straight out of grad school? I'm wondering what route to set my sights on next year and I could see pros and cons to each.

    In terms of background, I have above average publications (30+, about 1/3 first author, in a range of journals but mostly well-reputed ones), decent but not great grant experience (one $20k foundation grant as Co-PI, a few smaller --$1k and under--grad student grants as PI, a small but named position in a $1m+ federal grant), some teaching experience (a couple courses as instructor of record, including a masters-level one , lots of TAing experience, a few guest lectures), and some service (APA committees, a couple of university committees). I've generally seen people use more research-focused post-docs as a way to increase their grant and publication experience, but I'm not sure what's expected coming out of those.

    Thoughts?
     

    Ollie123

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      I think a lot depends on what type of faculty job, as these come in many varieties. My general impression is that while "overall" I think hard-money arts & sciences-type jobs are more competitive and harder to get than soft-money positions, they are also much more realistic to get without a post-doc. Soft-money positions increasingly seem to expect people to walk in the door with at least some funding (most often a K) so its generally not possible to make that leap without a post-doc. Of course, psychology departments also generally want to see something a bit more programmatic/theoretical vs. medical schools looking more at just overall productivity/numbers (these are extremely gross generalizations based on my gut impression, so take it with grain of salt).

      Sounds like you would be a strong candidate for a faculty job if that is the desire. If there is a particular skill you couldn't pick up in graduate school that you want to learn, post-doc is a great opportunity to do that. I have a pretty diverse research program, so I'm hoping to gain experience with a few very technical areas I couldn't as a grad student. I also (self-servingly) think its perfectly fine to take a post-doc as a way of deferring if you are still somewhat uncertain about how exactly you want to define your program, what exact type of setting you want to be in, etc. This is probably the main reason I'm planning on doing a post-doc next year.
       

      weeblewobble

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        Am I remembering right that you transferred from a school psych program to a basic science program?

        If so, my sense of things is pretty similar to Ollie. But in general I think that no matter how competitive the candidate, it seems to me that hiring committees expect a post doc now even if they don't really need the additional experience.

        If you're still in school psych, my school psych colleagues have had to do the post doc because they needed to be licensed in order to be competitive, not necessarily to bone up on research. Arts and sciences positions generally require supervision at minimum, and with the field so crowded there's no reason to wait for a new graduate to get licensed.
         
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        futureapppsy2

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          Am I remembering right that you transferred from a school psych program to a basic science program?

          If so, my sense of things is pretty similar to Ollie. But in general I think that no matter how competitive the candidate, it seems to me that hiring committees expect a post doc now even if they don't really need the additional experience.

          If you're still in school psych, my school psych colleagues have had to do the post doc because they needed to be licensed in order to be competitive, not necessarily to bone up on research. Arts and sciences positions generally require supervision at minimum, and with the field so crowded there's no reason to wait for a new graduate to get licensed.

          Nope. I'm in counseling (masters-level), not basic science. As a result, I'll already be licensed/supervisor-ready when I graduate, though I wouldn't mind more supervision experience.
           
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          Member1928

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            I think the answer to your question depends tremendously on the type of position you want to obtain. If you are going to go the academic medicine route then a postdoc is going to be necessary to carry you until you get the funding to transition to a faculty position.

            If you are going to go the R1 (Research Very High) route, you may need a postdoc to improve your record of extramural funding, but depending on geography and the type of positions/departments you apply to, I suspect that you'll still be very competitive for many positions. It probably goes without saying that you'll be competitive at the R2 (Research High). The answer to your question would also depend on licensing and what would be required in that respect for the position (would you need to be licensed as a psychologist or something else).

            If you want more training in a certain area that you think will be critical to your success as an independent investigator then I would also consider the postdoc. Tenure and promotion committees look for different things at different institutions. One school may emphasize the acquisition of grant funding and not care so much about exact details of your publications. Another school may expect that you apply, but not necessarily get extramural grant funding, however, they may want to see you publishing 2-3 single author or senior author papers based on data that comes directly from your lab. Thus, there may be skills you would want to have before finding yourself on your own island, so to speak.

            Hope this helps!
             

            futureapppsy2

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              Hi all,

              Many thanks for the responses and apologies for the delay in responding. I think my ideal job would probably be at an R2 (aka RU/H) university. I've pretty much ruled out research assistant professor, pure soft-money positions, as I worked in one as an undergrad and found it stressful; from what I've heard from my recent post-doc friends, it's just gotten even more so the past few years. I'm on the fence about whether or not an R1/RUVH position would be a good fit or something I'd be competitive for (and my faculty seem to think of R1s and R2s as the same category for some reason).
               

              irish80122

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                I would recommend giving the job market a shot and see what happens. If you don't get any action on the faculty job market you can always apply for post-docs, as the due dates are usually at different times. I got a job at a R1 university with frankly a much weaker cv than what you describe, so if the fit is right, you are definitely going to be competitive. Give it a shot, and good luck!
                 
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