What’s the Answer? (non-PhD bioinformatics job skills)

Biostars is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the Biostars_logo community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at Biostars that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at Biostars.

This week’s highlighted post was popular, and offers some chatter on the state of the field with regard to employment opportunities. And this is the kind of question that it’s hard to get answers out of the literature for.

Question: I’m applying for a non-PhD bioinformatics position in your lab. What do you look for?

I’ve been lurking here for years and I’d like to cover a topic that isn’t covered that much.

Bioinformatics is a tough field to not have a PhD. Nonetheless, research positions do exist where only a bachelors is required and research experience is also stated as between 0-2 years. I’d like to give a hypothetical situation that describes a good percent of such applicants to these positions. The motivation here is to survey what are ultimately core requirements for these positions and what is maybe considered “bells and whistles”.

I’m fresh out of college and I have a BS and/or Masters in Bioinformatics along with ~two years research in a lab. I’m applying to your lab, what are you looking for? And what requirement(s) can you excuse or not weight that heavily?

Edit. Sort of a related question, is requiring knowing hadoop and also the biochemistry/biophysics behind RNA-seq at the same time an outrageous expectation for a non-Phd?


Everyone has been following the drama (and the graphs) about how many PhDs vs how many academic jobs there are. Certainly not everyone needs to have a PhD, and this seems a valid and useful question. It got some thoughtful answers from potential employers too. Check out the discussion.