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Guidelines for the Hiring of Postdoctoral Associates

The term “postdoc” at Virginia Tech can refer to two different employment situations:

  1. Those employees in the official university rank of “Postdoctoral Associate.” Eligibility for this rank requires an earned doctorate or equivalent terminal degree in an appropriate academic field awarded in the previous five years. Appointment to this rank is a traineeship under the supervision of a more senior faculty scholar in preparation for a career in academia or research. The appointment is temporary in nature and is limited to a minimum of one year and a maximum total of 5 years.
  2. Those employees who have earned a Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree in the previous five years who are in an official university rank other than “Postdoctoral Associate." These positions are not considered traineeships and may fall under a number of official ranks such as “Research Associate,” “Research Scientist,” or “Research Assistant professor,” among others.

Guidance for the hiring of those individuals described in 1. (above) in salaried positions

The intention of the Postdoctoral Associate rank is to provide a continued opportunity for training in a specialty area for a limited amount of time. The minimum initial salaried appointment period is one year and the maximum allowable time for an individual to be in the rank of Postdoctoral Associate is five years. In order for employment to be continuous beyond the maximum of five years it would be necessary for the Postdoctoral Associate to be considered for a promotion to a higher rank, such as Research Scientist or Research Assistant Professor. 

For detailed information about the available research faculty ranks please see the OVPRI-HR website.

Characteristics of the rank of Postdoctoral Associate

  • Continuation of training in specialty area under the supervision of a more senior faculty mentor
  • Duties are substantially research or scholarship but may include limited teaching responsibilities
  • Expectation to submit for publication the results of his/her research findings
  • Appointment is temporary in nature, limited to 4 years at Virginia Tech within the 5 years following the awarding of the Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree
  • Limited supervision of personnel. May include opportunities to write and submit grant proposals; may serve as co-PI or PI by approved exception
  • Appointment is “restricted” due to temporary nature – i.e., employment depends on availability of funding, the need for services, and satisfactory performance

Expected Compensation 

Virginia Tech is committed to paying competitively to recruit, reward, and retain high-performing employees.  

In order to offer competitive salaries, the university has increased the minimum pay for exempt full-time salary faculty and staff (excluding postdoctoral associates) to $40,000 and full-time salary postdoctoral associates to $45,000 effective December 10, 2016.  

Principal Investigators applying to NIH-funded programs should review the NIH Postdoctoral Stipend table for FY 2017 for budgeting information.

Departments should be aware that candidates on H-1B visas are subject to prevailing wage determination which may be higher than your anticipated salary range. For more information, please contact the Office of International Support Services.

For information pertaining to benefits available to special research faculty employees, including Postdoctoral Associates, please visit the Benefits website

Research faculty compensation inquires may be directed to OVPRI-HR at

Hiring Procedures and Timing of Degree Award

Postdoctoral Associates may be hired through the competitive search process or via an approved search exemption. Departments may request approval of a search exemption to hire a Postdoctoral Associate prior to the anticipated award of the candidate’s Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree. Actual employment is contingent upon presentation of satisfactory documentation of credentials prior to the effective date of the appointment.  

To initiate the search exemption process, departments should initiate a position description, attach a letter of justification and the candidate’s CV to People Admin. If you have questions or need assistance please email Information about the competitive search process is available on the OVPRI-HR website

The university recognizes the occasional need for departments to extend a Terms of Faculty Offer to a candidate for the rank of Postdoctoral Associate whose degree has not yet been awarded but is expected by the time of appointment. In these cases the department should contact OVPRI-HR for guidance prior to submitting the TOFO for approval by OVPRI.