10 Tips for Getting a Job at the FDA


Key Takeaways:

  • Understand specific departmental roles within the FDA and tailor your job application to reflect relevant skills and interests.
  • Pursue FDA internships and fellowships during academic years to gain firsthand experience and valuable connections within the agency.
  • Expand job possibilities by considering various geographic locations where FDA facilities are present, enhancing hiring potential.

The United States Food and Drug Administration is the government agency responsible for overseeing the foods and drugs used by American citizens, but before you apply for a single open position, make sure you look at some tips for getting an FDA job. The FDA has a limited number of open jobs available and looks for the best employees, which is why you need to know where you want to work and all the requirements for each job.

how to work for the FDA

Know Where You Want to Work

According to the official website of the FDA, it has jobs available in several different offices, departments, and centers. While you might think of the FDA in terms of one large agency, each department serves a different purpose. The Office of Regulatory Affairs is responsible for ensuring that companies follow government regulations, while the Center for Veterinary Medicine focuses on the health of animals. Knowing where you want to work before you apply is one of the best tips for getting a job at the FDA.

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Understand All FDA Job Requirements

In addition to looking at the FDA website, you can also view the USA Jobs site to view all open positions available within that department. Don’t send off dozens of resumes without first looking closely at all the requirements associated with each job. While some require just one year of experience or a college degree, other positions may require that you pass a criminal background check and have government clearance. Some jobs are only open to internal applicants or those with government experience too.

Do an FDA Internship

When looking at tips for getting a job at the FDA during your college years, look at the process of doing an internship with the FDA. The FDA has internships available for both undergrads and graduate students that will help you gain experience working for the organization. You might consider applying for one of its special programs after you graduate too. The FDA has fellowships available for those with a bachelor’s degree and those currently enrolled in graduate school, and it offers summer programs for all students too.

Create an Online Account with the FDA

After looking at some of the FDA jobs currently available, you might worry about tailoring your resume and cover letter to fit each open position. Instead of spending a lot of time working on your resume, create an online account with the USA Jobs site. This site features all open government jobs across the country and government jobs in foreign territories too. You’ll have the chance to list your most recent jobs, show the experience you have in the volunteer or non-profit sector, and talk about your education. You can then customize your resume to apply to multiple jobs.

Study the Right Subjects

While there are a number of tips for getting a job at the FDA, one of the most important is that you study the right subjects in college. The best subject to study depends on where you want to work and what you hope to do. A degree in food science may qualify you to work in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, but those who want to work for the National Center for Toxicological Research may need some type of medical degree.

Attend a Recruitment Event

The FDA hosts occasional recruitment events. These events take place at different locations across the United States. The FDA may also visit other recruitment events and job fairs. For example, the agency may set up at college recruitment events, hiring fairs for veterans or people with disabilities and community events. Attending a recruitment event is a good way to make an in-person connection with a hiring manager or human resources specialist at the FDA. If individuals have any questions about the application process or the types of jobs available at the organization, they could get them answered at the event.

Go Through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs

If you are a United States veteran, you may be eligible for priority review for certain types of FDA jobs. Job seekers who have disabilities may also be able to apply for specific jobs at the agency. The FDA has a virtual recruitment portion of its website where veterans and people with disabilities can go in order to apply for jobs, converse with managers, or even participate in an interview. The Office of Personnel Management has specific guidelines on federal jobs available for veterans and how they can indicate their service when they apply for a job.

Look at the United States Public Health Service Positions

The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps offers another pathway to a career at the FDA. A person who served on the staff could apply for one of the public health jobs at the FDA with priority consideration. According to the FDA, these positions have a focus on health promotion and disease prevention. They do this through the scope of the FDA, such as with its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program, clinical trial oversight, and more. The FDA has a special section on its website for current commissioned officers to check for job openings.

Consider Jobs in a Wide Geographic Area

Another way to get one of the FDA jobs is to be flexible with the location of where the job is located. Although many of the jobs are in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, the FDA has facilities in most states. Some of its larger facilities for its food and feed laboratory operations are located in Denver, Kansas City, and San Francisco. The FDA also has facilities in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Winchester for medical products, tobacco, and forensic chemistry services. There are FDA Office of Criminal Investigations locations in Chicago, Miami, and Houston. Being flexible with the geographic area a person considers for employment could enhance their chances of getting a job with the FDA.

Take a Look at Fellowship Opportunities

People who have an advanced degree in biology, chemistry, or a related subject could allow them to apply for an FDA fellowship. The agency’s fellowship opportunities are designed to help scientists advance their research skills. There are fellowships within the FDA’s research and regulatory branches. In the Commissioner’s Fellowship Program, fellows work under senior scientists in different areas of expertise. The Staff Fellowship Program includes medical and scientific research opportunities. The agency also hires fellows in its FDA Pharmacy Student Experiential Program, Interagency Oncology Task Force Fellowship Program, and Visiting Scientist Program.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration keeps citizens safe through policies it implements and research it does. This agency consists of multiple departments and offices that focus on animal health, tobacco usage, and other subjects. Looking at some tips for getting an FDA job can help you find open positions and apply.