I was wondering if it's usual(or even possible) to work in a research lab as part-time staff. I would love to just apply for a full-time position, but I cannot leave my current job due to an education benefit contract for the next two years. I would be willing to do full-time if that's the only option but will have to work both jobs concurrently, which is unideal.

Does anyone think I would have any luck just emailing PIs and asking if they are willing to take me on? Or is there a better way to go about this?

I don't need to start right away so could I ask that they keep me in mind if something opens up for them and they need help?

My background, if that's helpful

my reasons for wanting such a position:

  • stimulating work
  • research experience
  • tuition remission (I would like to take classes that interest me)
  • considering grad school

For the past few years, I've been working in a medical reference lab as a lab associate and more recently as an MLS(medical laboratory scientist). I just graduated this December with my B.S. in Biology(minor in chem) and while working obtained my M ASCP(MLS in microbiology) certification.

While I love bench work, I can see myself becoming bored in this role as it's pretty repetitive.

In undergrad I was in a lab for about 2 years as a student worker, I was lucky to have gotten my name on a publication and gave a few presentations during lab meetings on the projects I helped with. I also have experience maintaining the lab as that's what I got paid for(all the research experience was volunteer hours).

2 Answers 2


Research administrator here (US-based).

Are you looking at jobs as like a lab manager? These positions are often hard to fill because research folks tend to look at academic positions instead of staff. Many PIs cannot get one because they don't have funds for a full-time position, and so a part-time position might be an option, but they don't post one. You could cold-email people, but just expect only the largest labs to have this need. This would potentially be a better move than a simple lab tech position, which is often filled by undergrads. A lab manager needs to understand some of the science, while also understanding administration, marrying the worlds together. A good lab manager is something PIs struggle to find and never want to give up once they do.

As for part-time work, one of my employees (a research administrator) is part-time. We posted a full-time job, she applied and asked for part-time. We hired her anyways. She says this method works better than people realize. I would say it's worth a shot.

As for tuition/graduate school-- If you work at a university and are staff, tuition remission is often a benefit. I got my degree in teaching paid by my employer (unrelated to my job, no strings attached). These policies should be published by universities on their HR website. For hospitals, you would more likely have to apply and ask at the time of an interview. At my institution, the benefit does depend on your position, your union (or if not union), and full-time vs. part-time. I have worked for two separate universities, and have taken classes every year for nearly 15 years. There's no application process, you just enroll in the classes as allowed by your policy. My teaching degree is not discernable from a traditional student--it's from the actual graduate program. It took me five years to complete, but I also graduated with 5 years of work experience, had a full-time salary during that time, and didn't accumulate student loans.

For what it's worth -- I am "an academic" by heart, but have worked in research administration for nearly 15 years. I was making more than postdocs after just 6 years of experience, and now there is such a shortage of research administrators, that even people with little to no experience make more than postdocs. You can go the way of being in a lab, as a lab manager or lab tech. You can also be more of an office person and look into research administration.

Disclose your other job to HR at the time of hire, and it should be ok if you can manage both positions. They will let you know if not, and you'll have to accept that. If you don't disclose it, and people find out, that will not end well. You may or may not have IP depending on your role. Despite the fact that I author a large number of proposal documents, I am staff, and thus have no IP. My name appears on nothing. If you are technical staff instead of lab admin staff, this could present a challenge if the role overlaps with an existing job.

Try looking for admin jobs on Higher Ed Jobs. They have an entire category for scientific admin jobs. Research admin jobs are here.


Yes, it's possible. I'd expect any institution to have jobs posted somewhere and browsing those jobs is probably more productive than cold emailing. At my own institution you can easily filter by job type and part/full time (though, just checking now, as I'd expect most of the part-time jobs listed are also listed as full-time, so they are probably looking primarily for a full-time worker).

However, I'd expect the total number of available jobs at any point to be small, and then you filter by your area of interest, and then you filter by part time, and based on your situation you're likely limited geographically. Each of these filters is going to cut down the number of possible fits.

Your best point of contact would be a lab you've already worked in; training student workers is costly, to the point that student workers may not even be a net labor benefit to a lab, having student work can be closer to fulfilling an educational mission unless students stay in the same position for awhile.

Among your "asks", tuition remission seems most unlikely to me, but it's possible. It's probably not something that depends on a particular position but rather depends on broader institution policies. Remission may be available only for full-time workers, only for certain job-related courses, etc.

Another stumbling point will be intellectual property; you will likely need approval to work a separate job outside the university because they will want to avoid any potential legal contest over work you do. You may have the same issues with your current employer.


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