What Do Different Bioinformatics Positions Mean?
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14.2 years ago
Yuri ★ 1.7k

I went to several sites to look for a new position (thanks to this recent question: Post not found). With not much experience in bioinformatics market I'm confused with a lot of different positions. Some positions I understand but not everything. Some looks like just called differently for companies, academy or government. I tried to put here all I could find. Can somebody approximately sort them let's say by salary or level of responsibility? Which positions requires Ph.D. degree? Any systematic description would be very useful.

  • Bioinformatics Internship
  • Bioinformatics Postdoc
  • Bioinformatics Analyst (I, II, III)
  • Senior Bioinformatics Analyst
  • Bioinformatics Analyst Programmer (I, II, III)
  • Bioinformatics Developer Senior
  • Bioinformatics Developer
  • Bioinformatician (I, II, III)
  • Bioinformatics Expert
  • Bioinformatics Systems Administrator
  • Bioinformatics Research Fellow
  • Bioinformatics Research Assistant
  • Bioinformatics Research Associate
  • Bioinformatics Scientist (Researcher)
  • Bioinformatics Senior (Staff) Scientist
  • Bioinformatics Project Manager
  • Director (Head) of Bioinformatics
career general • 21k views
Entering edit mode
14.2 years ago
Melanie ▴ 660

In general, positions labeled as "analyst" will be applying tools other people have created. Positions labeled as "developer" will be writing new tools. However, you shouldn't count on that, as sometimes job titles are written by people with no idea about bioinformatics. I'd expect the Bioinformatics Systems Administrator to be responsible for keeping the tools and the computers the tools run on up and running.

Research assistants and associates are usually BS/MS level jobs. Scientist jobs usually require a PhD. But neither of these rules is absolute.

A project manager is responsible for putting together the project schedule and keeping the project on track. Whether a PhD is required or not is quite variable, and will usually correlate with whether the project manager is also expected to be the technical lead on the project.

The Director/Head of Bioinformatics is a management job. In a larger company, this person probably has almost no time for direct involvement in projects. In a smaller company, he/she is probably still hands on at least some of the time.

Salaries are all over the place. About all I'd hazard to guess there is that the Director is making the most money, but even that is not a sure bet.

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Still, I think this is as good of an explanation as it can be.

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Melanie : I have seen "Bioinformatics Analyst" position, where the primary duty is to develop/code [see: http://www.bioinformatics.org/forums/forum.php?forum_id=7896 ]. It is not always possible to classify the positions based on the job title.

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Could be. But my point is, it is not at all possible to classify the positions based on the job title, atleast in the bioinformatics domain.

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The OP was looking for a "systematic description", so although various ads display many hiring firms' confusion about bioinformatics career tracks, I think Melanie's approach by removing "bionformatics" is a reasonable start

Entering edit mode
14.0 years ago
Hanif Khalak ★ 1.3k

Career Tracks in Science and Technology

In my experience, titles are determined to a large extent by HR guidelines, which are as much about future advancement as starting salary. That said, I would break down as below. Generally speaking, I've ordered the job titles within heading, as well as major headings, on relative salary expectations. There are some wildcards, like the Principal Scientist who can often make a bundle. YMMV...


  • Intern
  • Analyst I
  • Analyst II
  • Analyst III
  • Senior Analyst
  • Principal Analyst


  • Intern
  • Research Assistant
  • Research Associate
  • Postdoc*
  • Associate Scientist
  • Staff Scientist*
  • Research Fellow*
  • Senior Scientist*
  • Principal Scientist*


  • Intern
  • Developer
  • Engineer I
  • Systems Administrator
  • Senior Developer
  • Engineer II
  • Bioinformatician I
  • Bioinformatician II
  • Engineer III
  • Bioinformatician III*
  • Architect


  • Intern
  • Project Manager
  • Senior Project Manager
  • Manager
  • Associate Director
  • Director*

*often require Ph.D.

Entering edit mode

Position descriptions are also written for the ideal candidate--one that wears a cape and tights and saves orphans and widows in their spare time. I have never hesitated to send in a resume for a position if I had at least 50-75% of the items they desired, because in this field there's still an odd collection of skills that you can assemble and be effective in the position--and it's hard to find the person they want with 100% of their wish list.

Entering edit mode
14.2 years ago

I think most of positions will have a brief, yet concise description that will explain the necessary qualification required for a particular position. I think the requirement depends on the nature of positions and there is no specific /systematic rule applies for different category of positions.

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Yes, I think most people posting jobs may even have less understanding of the various nuances of bio-informatics research than we do.

Entering edit mode
13.2 years ago

I would recommend to call the people behind a job description for further information. In the past I had good experiences with calling for clarification. Once I even got a job offer while asking about the job posted :) Writing a job description for a vacancy is not always that easy. I am pretty sure that employers would be happy to clarify. If not, you prob don't want the job at all.


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