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Work/Life Balance

Whether you are graduating with a bachelor's degree, entering the workforce for the first time, changing careers, or working on your doctoral degree, NIH offers a place for you to start, and plenty of room to grow.

As the United States Federal Government's focal point for human health research, our mission is to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone.

NIH invests billions of dollars in scientific research annually. There are approximately 18,000 employees at NIH in varied occupations, all supporting research efforts for a healthy nation. The scientific and support staff in our funded research program oversee more than 41,000 research grants awarded each year for studies carried out at over 2,400 schools and research facilities, with locations all over the United States. For more information on the NIH mission, goals, and Institutes and Centers, please visit NIH Overview.


The value that NIH places on our employees is demonstrated by our benefits, starting with opportunities for signing bonuses and payment of relocation expenses. You will enjoy numerous benefits as a Federal worker, including generous leave, health insurance and retirement plans.


In addition to basic pay, employees may receive overtime compensation, bonuses, and allowances.

Leave and Work Schedules

Annual Leave External Web Site Policy accrual rates are determined by an individual's total years of federal service. Years of military service count toward leave accrual. Employees typically are allowed to carry a maximum of 30 workdays (240 hours) of annual leave from one year to the next.

Sick Leave External Web Site Policy accrues at a rate of four hours per pay period for full time employees, or 13 workdays per year. Unlimited hours of sick leave can be accumulated and carried over to succeeding years. Sick leave can be used for personal illness, care of sick family members, adoption, and medical appointments. In addition, NIH offers Family-friendly leave programs External Web Site Policy.

An employee may be able to enjoy an alternative work schedule External Web Site Policy (AWS), at the supervisor's discretion, provided it does not affect productivity. AWS includes the Compressed Work Schedule, in which an employee works eighty hours in a two-week pay period in less than 10 days.

The 10 paid holidays External Web Site Policy that federal employees enjoy each year include the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Columbus Day, and Veteran's Day.

Advances in telecommunications, the rising costs of office space, growing air pollution, traffic congestion and changing social needs have increased the need for telecommuting arrangements. Telework may be granted to an employee if both supervisor and employee agree, and if it meets the needs of the organization.

Health Insurance

NIH employees may be eligible for, but not obligated to enroll in the Federal Employees' Health Benefits (FEHB) program External Web Site Policy. FEHB offers a wide variety of health plans from which to choose, including some that offer Health Savings Accounts External Web Site Policy.

Life Insurance

The Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program External Web Site Policy is the largest group life insurance program in the world, covering over 4 million Federal employees and retirees, as well as many of their family members. FEGLI is group term life insurance; therefore, it does not build up any cash value or paid-up value. It consists of Basic life insurance coverage and three options. In most cases, if you are a new Federal employee, you are automatically covered by Basic life insurance and your payroll office deducts premiums from your paycheck unless you waive the coverage. In addition to the Basic, there are three forms of Optional insurance that you can elect.


The Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) is comprised of three parts:

The Thrift Savings Plan External Web Site Policy (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees. The TSP offers Federal employees the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. TSP contributions are voluntary, and in an amount you choose.

Long Term Care

The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program External Web Site Policy (FLTCIP) offers insurance to eligible employees to help pay for long term care services, such as home care or care in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Child Care

NIH provides on-site child care facilities through the Division of Amenities and Transportation Services (DATS), Office of Research Services (ORS).

Recreation and Welfare Association

The Recreation and Welfare Association (R&W) is an organization designed to provide employees of the NIH with a variety of social, athletic, wellness, educational and special interest activities. The R&W Association has a variety of programs External Web Site Policy that provide members with opportunities to meet people with similar interests, pursue a favorite hobby, participate in athletic events, and enjoy many other social activities. It provides housing referral services and travel opportunities. In addition, the R&W provides a variety of convenient services and products from five NIH gift shops that are located both on and off the main NIH campus.

Numerous clubs External Web Site Policy are offered under the R&W, including the Bicycle Commuter Club, the Gay & Lesbian Employees Forum, and the NIH Garden Club.

NIH also offers three on-site fitness centers and classes in aerobics, dance, and yoga.

NIH Federal Credit Union

The NIH Federal Credit Union (NIHFCU) gives members the resources they need to achieve their financial goals and meet their daily financial needs. It offers a variety of low-rate consumer loans, credit cards, mortgages and home equity loans in addition to secured interest-bearing savings, checking and investment accounts. Through partnerships, NIHFCU is able to offer members a complete line of mutual funds, annuities and insurance products; free car and home buying services; and money management services. It also provides educational seminars, newsletters and Internet articles to give members helpful financial information.

Training and Career Development

As an employee, NIH gives you the opportunity to progress rapidly in your career based on your performance. You can increase your salary quickly through promotions; awards; recruitment, retention, and relocation payments; and within grade increases. You can excel in your career in a job secure environment.

NIH offers opportunities for continuing education and tuition reimbursement, as well as research and management training and internships such as the NIH Management Intern Program, the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP), and the HHS Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) External Web Site Policy. Numerous opportunities are available for minorities. The NIH Training Center (NIHTC) is dedicated to offering valuable learning experiences that empower NIH employees to maximize their performance and achieve their full potential. For more information on training and career development, please visit the following sites: Office of Intramural Training and Education and the Intramural Loan Repayment Program.


There is a metro subway station (Medical Center on the red line External Web Site Policy) and the bus stops on the NIH campus, providing access to DC, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia. We also have free parking - a rare commodity in the DC metropolitan area - transportation subsidies, and a ride - sharing network for commuters.

NIH Campus

NIH is based in Bethesda, Maryland External Web Site Policy, just outside of Washington DC. Our 317-acre campus boasts plenty of green space, where we have regular cultural events for staff and the public. Excellent restaurants, shops, transportation, and entertainment make Bethesda External Web Site Policy a great place to work, and the wealth of museums, monuments, parks, sports and cultural activities in the Washington metropolitan area provides ample recreation opportunities.

Diversity and Disability Outreach Efforts

The Workplace Diversity Initiative (WDI), developed by NIH staff under the leadership of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management (OEODM), is a long-term strategy to manage the differences and similarities of NIH employees in order to promote productivity, quality and fairness in the workplace. NIH is committed to providing equal opportunity for all employees and applicants on the basis of merit without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation and physical or mental disability. For more information regarding the Workplace Diversity Initiative, please visit the NIH Office of Equal Opportunity or External Web Site Policy.

The Federal Government has special appointing authorities for persons with disabilities. To be eligible for these noncompetitive, Schedule A, appointments, a person must meet the definition for being disabled. The person must have a severe physical, cognitive, or emotional disability; have a history of having such disability; or be perceived as having such disability. The person must obtain a certification letter from a State Vocational Rehabilitation Office or the Department of Veterans Affairs to be eligible for appointment under these special authorities. Please visit the Federal Employment of People with Disabilities External Web Site Policy page for more information.

This page last reviewed on February 12, 2013

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