How to become a Postdoctoral Research Associate?

A high point when doing any type of project is the research that goes into it. If you are a person who always got assigned to do the research during group projects or enjoy doing group projects in general, then doing a job that requires a whole lot of research and analytical skills is the best thing. One of those jobs, which test your encore research and analytical and comprehensive abilities to the core is, Postdoctoral research associate.

Hopefully, we have grabbed your attention with the information given below. If yes, then we will divulge the core details you would want to know about being a predoctoral research associate, as well as, how to become one for future purposes. All this information will make sure that you get covered on what to expect when working as a postdoctoral research associate in the future. 

How to become a Postdoctoral Research Associate

What is a Postdoctoral research associate?

Before we go into how to become a Postdoctoral research associate, let’s define what it means to be a Postdoctoral research associate.

A Postdoctoral research associate is someone who is hired for a small amount of time to do research work for the education department with writing research reports, collecting different information, and analyzing them to support the given claim.

 One of the main traits of being a Postdoctoral research associate is to have exceptional communicative skills. This skill can be in both oral and written ways. This could be used in reporting research updates to the research head, making any revisions, and obtaining additional experience on the issue through brainstorming and debating strategic processes for the study are all part of the job. 

They also get to meet other educational institutions, and analyze the research together and get additional information on the given research. 

Postdoctoral researchers frequently assist in the research instruction of graduate students and may teach informally. Even though they are research titles, some instances allow for instruction. Postdocs in the classroom may get used as a type of scholarship in the humanities and other non-laboratory-based subjects. 

Postdoctoral associates may also teach as a means of improving academic abilities in preparation for a teaching career, providing the experience gets officially supervised, and adequate attention is continued to be paid to research program development. Postdoctoral associates shall not get employed in the curriculum to replace lecturers and senior professors.

What are the responsibilities of a Postdoctoral research associate?

Now, we will look at the different responsibilities you will have to face when working as a Postdoctoral research associate. 

  • They take primary responsibility in developing his or her career.
  • They perform the needed research to a high degree and in conformity with all institutional and federal requirements as directed by the academic supervisor.
  • They contribute to their adviser’s program via research results and contact with others.
  • They take an active role in obtaining career and research guidance, both from the faculty supervisor and, if appropriate, from other faculty members.
  •  They help in assisting the team with developing and revising Standard Operating Procedures as appropriate.
  • They are also responsible for interfacing with external scientists on joint activities.
  • They participate in or assist in the preparation of manuscripts for publication in scientific journals and presentations. It is also possible that one will be able to help with grant writing.
  • Postdoctoral fellows must take charge of their professional growth. They must learn not only how to utilize new research instruments, but also how to gain access to particular resources and keep up with the ever-expanding streams of scientific communication.
  •  They organize and carry out day-to-day experimental activities in connection with given research projects.
  • The more postdocs who support their adviser’s program, the more valuable they are as team members, which may lead to a richer research experience, the respect of other group members, and future help in creating a career.
  • They also contribute to the development of the lab technological base and achieve objectives in creative and effective methods.
  • Other responsibilities as given, such as attending Scientific Conferences and Meetings

Some skills required to be a Postdoctoral research associate

We will now list out some of the skills you should have when considering applying for a Postdoctoral research associate. 

  • You should have exceptional communication skills, whether it be verbal or written.
  • You should be able to research topics well, as well as provide them in a structured and well-defined manner.
  • It is necessary to know about, respect for, and abilities to interact with people from diverse cultures or backgrounds.
  • You should be top tier in analyzing various data and using them in the research work. 
  • You should know a wide variety of coding languages like Python, C++, etc. 
  • You should also obtain a post-doctoral as well as have a degree in one of the sciences like chemistry as well.
  • Whether you are in or out of academia, it is more probable that you will need to manage people as your career progresses. Being a better leader and manager will help you advance in your job.
  • Learning how to manage yourself, others, projects, and resources, as well as how to encourage and effectively lead others, is critical to your professional success.
  • Adherence to ethical standards in research is critical to scientific discovery. Without integrity, scientific research will lose credibility in the scientific community and among the general public. 

How to become a Postdoctoral research associate

Now, we will look at the main part of the article, which is how to become a Postdoctoral research associate.

A good foundational understanding of the topic and the capacity to critically examine and interpret scientific data are the minimal requirements for a postdoc.

Therefore, having a bachelor’s or a Ph.D. is a must for you to become a Postdoctoral research associate.

Most of the Postdoctoral research associates are Ph.D. holders who want to continue learning ad researching through many means. 

Postdoctoral employment cannot be held without a doctoral degree. A Ph.D. is required to train a candidate to conduct and assess a project on their own.

Most Postdoctoral research associates take a master’s degree in a doctoral course. 

You could discover that prior work experience might help you secure a job as a Postdoctoral Research Associate. Indeed, many Postdoctoral Research Associate positions need prior experience as a Research Assistant. In the meanwhile, several Postdoctoral Research Associates have worked as Graduate Research Assistants or Teaching Assistants.

Interview Questions

Let us look at some of the sample interview questions you can get when applying as a Postdoctoral research associate.

  • What type of study do you hope to do in the future?
  • Who piqued your attention the most throughout your encounters today, and why?
  • This job also entails lab administration, such as ordering goods from suppliers using the university’s buying system. Do you have any prior experience?
  • What talents and expertise do you have you can offer to this project?
  • What are you hoping to achieve from your Postdoctoral experience?
  • Do you believe you will be able to adjust to leaving a close-knit scientific community?
  • What are some of the areas in this lab where you believe you can make a difference?
  • What do I know about the project’s experimental phase?
  • What problems do you anticipate encountering throughout this project?
  • What might you bring to our group in terms of fresh product development?

We will provide you with some sample answers for some of them now, so you can get an idea of how to answer these questions when doing the interview.

Q. This job also entails lab administration, such as ordering goods from suppliers using the university’s buying system. Do you have any prior experience?

Ans: I have ordered from vendors at another university, but not directly from them. I am interested in the procurement mechanism. Is someone going to train me?

Q. What might you bring to our group with fresh product development?

Ans: I will bring my knowledge and skills in chemistry and material science with me. I am also knowledgeable about the functioning of numerous modern instruments used for raw and finished product analysis. Based on it, we may investigate the structure-property link and attempt to improve it.

Job Description of a Postdoctoral Research Associate

We will now show you a sample of a job description that gets posted for a job for being a Postdoctoral research associate

Position Description

Position Specification

Postdoctoral Fellow(s) / Research Associate(s) / Research Assistant(s) Job Description (180001JL)

• Applicants must have a Master’s degree as well as four years of appropriate post-qualification professional experience (for Research Associate) or a doctoral/Ph.D. degree in an educational or statistical subject (for Postdoctoral Fellow).

• Candidates for Research Assistant positions should have a Bachelor’s degree in a comparable field, ideally with at least one year of post-qualification experience.

• Strong statistical and analytical skills; 

  1. solid writing skills in both Chinese and English;
  2. strong initiative and teamwork spirit; and
  3. good interpersonal and communication skills.
  4. self-motivation and the ability to work independently. 
  5. the ability to produce high-quality, detail-oriented work;

It is required to be familiar with and capable of doing research in statistical software.

• Responsibilities include: 

  1. assisting in the search and review of literature; 
  2. other related duties as assigned. The appointment will be on a contract basis for one year, beginning as soon as practicable and renewed subject to excellent performance and mutual agreement.
  3.  transforming data into presentable forms for reporting; 
  4. performing data mining, analysis, synthesis, visualizations, and presentation; 
  5. overseeing the e-platform and project evaluation, and
  6. conducting quantitative and qualitative analysis; 

Applicants must include a detailed CV, as well as any relevant qualifications and reference letters, as part of their online application.


The average salary of a postdoctoral research associate is $55,116 per year. The people who are on the lower end get around $43,000, while the ones working who get a salary in the higher end, get around $70,000 per year.

Top Companies hiring a postdoctoral research associate

When we look at any job, one of the main things to consider is the top companies who employ this specific job. We do this to know what company offers the best benefits and salaries, so we can ai to be a part of that company.

Therefore, we will be listing out the top companies that hire a postdoctoral research associate

The top companies are: 

  1. Carnegie Mellon University
  2. Princeton University
  3. MIT
  4. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  5. Cornell University
  6. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  7. Brown University
  8. Yale University
  9. Washington University in St. Louis
  10. Texas A&M University


We hope now that you have decided or not to pursue your career as a postdoctoral research associate. Many responsibilities come with the job, as well as some skills you should focus on. It is also harder to become a postdoctoral research associate because of the educational requirements it needs. But all in all, it is a fun job that challenges your creativity and research skills to the core. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1. Is a research associate the same as a postdoc?

Ans: A Research Associate is a junior researcher with a Ph.D. who is generally on a fixed-term contract. This word is occasionally used interchangeably with “postdoctoral fellow.”

Q.2. Is a research associate more crucial than a postdoc?

Ans: Research Associates are researchers (scholars and professionals) who have a higher education than a Master’s degree.

Q.3. Can you get a postdoctoral position without a Ph.D.?

Ans: Aside from that, you cannot have a postdoctoral position without a degree.

Q.4. Is a Ph.D. required to work as a research associate?

Ans: A Research Associate position is almost often a postdoctoral research position, which means that Research Associates have a Ph.D. in a relevant area. It is also the first research appointment that an ambitious researcher seeks following receiving their Ph.D.

Q.5. How long does postdoctoral training last?

Ans: Positions are for two to three years and can be extended in exceptional cases.

How to become a Postdoctoral Research Associate?

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