Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

www.llnl.gov

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Reviews

Updated February 26, 2015
Updated February 26, 2015
63 Reviews
4.0
63 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
(no image)
Bill Goldstein
63 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • The Lab also encourages work/life balance far more than almost any other comparable job (in 28 reviews)

  • There are a lot of smart people working there - lots of higher degrees (masters & Ph (in 15 reviews)


Cons
  • Beware: you will drown in red tape which comes first over science (in 13 reviews)

  • Slow to change because of older employee base but they are changing (in 5 reviews)

More Highlights

63 Employee Reviews Back to all Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    leading edge work plus bureaucracy

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    first-rate colleagues, exciting research in progress, excellent computer facilities, flexible hours, nearby housing is cheaper than most San Francisco Bay Area locations.

    Cons

    Heavy-handed unproductive "oversight" by the Department of Energy, lots of rules, generally unhelpful and unfriendly Bechtel-based upper management culture.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Try to be more open about what you're doing and why.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  2.  

    A vibrant ecosystem of talented scientists and engineers working on multidisciplinary problems.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Physicist
    Current Employee - Physicist

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The ability to work with a wide variety of people with varying skills.

    Cons

    A sometimes narrow and short-sighted focus on research directions that prohibits adequate investment for real impact.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  3.  

    Valuable Summer for Student Interns

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Intern - Laser Science, Optics, and Targeting in Livermore, CA
    Current Intern - Laser Science, Optics, and Targeting in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    Cutting Edge Research, Lots of Professional Enrichment Programs

    Cons

    Can be isolated, intimidating employees

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep up the good work! Lab is run well

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great place to do research while maintaining life-work balance

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Researcher in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Researcher in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    Good work environment, great work-life balance, decent benefits. If you want to do the kind of research they do at NIF or need super-computer muscle then this is one of the best places to be at.

    Cons

    It is a national lab so there is a lot of friction and red tape. Tasks that would be easy elsewhere might require significant effort here.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 4 people found this helpful  

    Good job security job, interesting work, frustrating funding environment

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Research Engineer in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    LLNL has a lot of interesting and smart people working for it, and that makes for a fun and engaging environment. There's always another opportunity to go to a seminar about something you've never thought about before. The pay is also pretty good, and the benefits are great. Livermore the town is a lovely place, exactly what you would want from a wine country area.

    Cons

    It's a government lab, so there's a lot of red tape and oversight. Having the government provide the funding pipeline comes with lots of frustrations (being subject to the whims of Congress). And while there is money for great equipment, the buildings and facilities tend to be old and antiquated. The Lab doesn't strike me as agile, in a business sense.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be attuned to the Lab's "image" problems, both inside and outside.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 4 people found this helpful  

    Great place to start a career, but no reason to stay too long

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    There are many smart people working here in many fields. Entry level pay and job stability and strong. The equipment you get to use, computers, science experiments is top notch. Benefits are overall very good with a high 401k match, good insurance options, twelve paid holidays and more sick time than most people can use. The problems to work on are hard and interesting and cutting edge in the field. Overall these are very strong plusses and are mostly the big things. Also, the funding situation is looking up right now with the lab not able to hire enough people quick enough (see cons) to fill open positions.

    Cons

    Many of the best people leave mid-career due to better pay, funding issues (erratic) or advancement opportunities elsewhere. While pay at the entry level is competitive the cost of living in Livermore is steep and flatter pay scale and slow salary adjustments for rising employees encourages this. While it used to make sense to stay if you had a pension now it is more worthwhile to spend 5 or so years learning a lot and moving on to greener pastures if you are really good. The result is while retention is good for mediocre or good people top talent gets poached. Many buildings are falling apart and maintenance of them is slow, compartmentalized and not always prioritized well. Vacation time is on the low end and takes a long time to increase, plus with older employees on the pension things feel very two tiered in terms of benefits. Then there is the issue with government running things so that you can be penalized for not spending all your money in a year, if something happens in Congress it ripples out etc. Also, HR and hiring are slow.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Fix up facilities. Figure out a way to have rapid advancement of technical workers including potentially paying some more than managers. Let employees float some of their holidays (we really do not need a day off in April) so they can have more discretionary vacation time. Shelter some of the government bureaucracy so that end of the year doesn't result in a race to spend money otherwise we will lose it. Streamline hiring and other HR tasks like performance reviews, which seem to be a lot of work for the little bit they impact pay.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Dec 3, 2014

    Thank you for taking the time to post such a thorough and constructive review. It is great to see that you would recommend us. We view retention as a critical issue, and efforts to streamline the ... More

  8. 3 people found this helpful  

    Good balance of interesting work and life

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The work life balance is the best. The only time I have worked over 40 hours a week is when I wanted to. There will be times when people feel the need to work overtime but it is not the norm.
    The problems are interesting and feel important. Sure you can burn out on anything but there is a ton of interesting work at the lab.
    On that note, the lab has so many projects going on that if you need something new after a few years you can find something fresh to re-invigorate you.
    Finally the pay is pretty decent for the area. Yes you will get more money at the big companies further west, but the cost of living around the lab is way more in line with lab salaries than with other companies.
    Final advice, if you are a fresh grad and can grind for a bit, go to one of the big companies and make some serious dough. If you appreciate work life balance, want to spend time with your family, and want a decent quality of life, this is a great place.

    Cons

    When it comes to software engineering the lab hasn't quite figured out how to define career paths yet. They have a classification system worked out but it is only a few years new at this point and they are only just starting to define and coach employees on how one would get a promotion.
    Being a government funded facility, we are at the mercy of the federal budget. When stuff like the government shut down happens, or salaries are frozen for federal workers, it affects us.
    The frills and niceties of other companies are non-existent here. Here are some examples: when taking someone on a lunch interview, the lab will not do the courtesy of paying for your interviewees lunch, you have to pay out of your pocket; Many buildings have cramped hallways and not so nice bathrooms (not gas station bathrooms, but not nice bathrooms); Many buildings have only basic custodial services, i.e. you'll be cleaning the fridge out yourself.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Good bridge between industry and academic culture

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Intern - High Energy Density Physics Intern in Livermore, CA
    Current Intern - High Energy Density Physics Intern in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    - Lots of smart co-workers. Seriously, everyone really knows there stuff
    - Does a fairly good job of not letting national security related red tape impede daily work
    - Constant stream of seminars and talks if you're interested in such things
    - All of the long-time employees spoke of great job security

    Cons

    - It is a government facility, so you have to get used to the red tape
    - Semi-university feel could be a con for some people. There are definitely some "starry-eyed" academics around
    - Similarly, semi-business feel could be a con for academics. LLNL has all of the budgets and deadlines of industry

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue/expand programs that promote a "researchy" feel. LLNL's biggest strength is the ability to inspire employee's with exciting work that THEY feel responsible for.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 4 people found this helpful  

    Fast-paced, shifting priority interesting job with national significance

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    The people here are scary smart. We have good opportunity for career growth and development. The work-life balance is quite good. The culture here values team work.

    Cons

    Scientists change their minds a lot -- drives engineers a little nuts. There's lots of bureaucracy. The job security and benefits aren't as good as they used to be.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Decide if this is government or a business and act accordingly.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great place to work with focus on work-life balance, security can be stifling at times.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    You can do work here that just isn't possible elsewhere. I work with literally the fastest computers on the planet on projects that just wouldn't be possible anywhere else. Furthermore, there is a heavy focus on work-life balance. For example, crunch time is virtually non-existent in my group and my work schedule is extremely flexible.

    The pay is also on par with tech companies in silicon valley, the benefits are great, and I've never seen a better 401(k) package. Livermore itself is a great city to live in.

    Cons

    Security can be stifling. When I started, it was a solid month and a half before I got the full access I needed in order to do my job unencumbered. The first 4 months of my assignment were spent in a different building from my team until my security clearance was processed. These are natural parts of working for a national lab, but it was frustrating at times, especially considering the non-classified nature of my project.

    A final issue is that upward mobility can be difficult depending on your group. The lab has an abnormally large number of employees who have worked here for decades, and they tend to be chosen first for promotion regardless of skill.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    For those of us starting out at the lab, it can be frustrating that the first increase in vacation doesn't come until after 10 years of service.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Photos

Work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory? Share Your Experiences

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

 
Click to Rate
or

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.