Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Reviews

Updated April 17, 2015
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  1. Helpful (1)

    LLNL is a place where you can chart your own career course.

    • 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 10 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    There are few arbitrary limitations on what you can do with your career. You don't have to have a PhD to achieve leadership roles or to seek independent project funding. It is possible to make major changes in your career, switching application domains or scientific disciplines. You are judged on the quality and timeliness of what you deliver, not where you went to school. There is a lot of flexibility in working hours and it is possible to achieve a wide range of work/life balance.

    Cons

    Funding is very dependent upon government agencies (DOE, DoD, DHS, etc.) that have had major internal turmoil lately. That, coupled with general federal government dysfunction in recent years, can lead to stressful funding fluctuations. LLNL is still trying to determine what its role should be in the 21st century as the emphasis on nuclear weapons continues to wane. This year the first ever non-nukie director was forced out because he didn't kowtow sufficiently to the weapons and lasers crowd that calls the shots here.

    Advice to Management

    Reduce the paperwork and red tape to get anything accomplished. There are too many people on overhead in aspects of "program development" that accomplish little, while lower-level management builds the trust relationships that really bring in the business.

  2. Helpful (1)

    Satisfaction

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

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Excellent research, people are friendly in a successful environment

    Cons

    Old, old buildings and analytical tools

  3. lllnl

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Pros

    great place to work so far. Very free to do what you like once you get past the training

    Cons

    lots of training for safety and security

  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Helpful (2)

    Basic Review

    • 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)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Great work schedules allowing for alternate work schedules for some people in some cases. Family friendly with flexible work hours. If you don't commit crimes or fail a drug test this can be long term employment

    Cons

    Slow to change
    Below average pay compared to tech companies in the bay area
    Small town Livermore
    No bart stations (In Livermore)

    Advice to Management

    3% annual salary increases does not compare.
    Having new hires starting at a higher salary then current employes with 2 - 3 years exercises sucks!

  6. Helpful (3)

    It depends on what you're looking for

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

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    1. work-life balance - slower pace than private sector so you can enjoy time with family on weeknights and weekends
    2. emphasis on safety culture - each employee can pause work if feel unsafe
    3. paid leave for you or family member (great for parents with young kids that are ill often); paid for going to jury duty
    4. functionality is valued more than latest technology so you don't have to constantly keep up
    5. short commute if you live west of Livermore (reverse commute on 580); don't have to commute to Silicon Valley or BART to SF

    Cons

    1. lower pay; don't expect any raise; if you do get a raise, it's nickels & dimes
    2. have to stress every year about layoffs due to budgets passed by Congress
    3. no career growth after a certain point; training budget is usually low so you must be creative to train yourself
    4. may not be able to work with latest technology; be willing to work with out-dated technology
    5. too many layers of upper management

    Advice to Management

    performance appraisal process/ranking needs to change or be replaced altogether; it is time-consuming and does not value employees whose positions require them to do the same things everyday (e.g., maintain code).

  7. Helpful (3)

    There's good and there's bad

    • 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 10 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    The projects you work on can be quite unique in the tech/science arena and can't be found elsewhere. You can take personal pride in working in something to help your country. The work life balance is very good, offering flexible hours, flexible schedules, 9/80s, etc. Very good maternity and paternity plans for parents. Very good retirement plan. There are a lot of super smart people here that you can work with.

    Cons

    The bureaucracy is mind numbing. Ridiculously poor performers can be kept for years because it is so hard to fire people. You are forced to do all sorts of unnecessary online training, I assume so LLNL can't get sued or something later on.

    Technical people are promoted instead of people who want to be managers. This leads to a variety of problems, most notably that they don't have time/interest in managing. If they control funding/money and have deadlines of their own, they have little interest in your interests in job mobility and career development. The word "fiefdom" culture has been strewn about a lot.

    In my division, someone was promoted on their technical merit despite the fact they did not actually want to perform managerial activities (e.g. writing performance appraisals). So a new layer of management was created beneath them to accommodate the situation. In any other company, this would be considered complete insanity, but for some reason it makes total sense to the management here.

    Advice to Management

    Stop promoting people based on their technical ability, promote people that specifically want to be managers. In addition, when someone becomes a manager, make management 100% of their job, not 25% or 50% of their job.

  8. Helpful (4)

    I could do better on the outside

    • 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 10 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    I've worked here for more than 20 years.
    The pay is just ok. I could get more on the outside.
    Benefits are ok but I actually have my benefits through my spouse now with an outside business because they are better.
    The main reason I stay is I'm close to my small children and I do have the flexibility to do things with them.
    I really like the people I work with but find management doesn't have a clue what they are doing and they treat employee's poor. You might be a great scientist but stink as a manager.
    The Matrix system is really nice and I've been given the opportunity to work all over the lab on different projects. If funding goes away you can usually find something within a month instead of being laid off.

    Cons

    During the UC days it was great. We knew pay was better on the outside but we had a company mentality and wanted to retire here. Now new people come in and then head off to Google or Yahoo for lots more money. Scientists don't make good mangers. In all my years I can think of only 2 or 3 people I felt were great managers and one got pushed out of management for not drinking the management Kool Aid.

    Advice to Management

    Get rid of the PADS and listen to your worker bees.

  9. Helpful (3)

    A changing lab

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

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    LLNL rewards people whose work aligns well with the laboratories programs, particularly if theyre successful in starting new programs

    Cons

    Science is no longer the prime motivation of the laboratory, and often the individuals best able to fund new programs are not the most competent

    Advice to Management

    Provide an internal review system to ensure that quality proposals are being submitted to sponsors

  10. Helpful (1)

    If only the pension still applied

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

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

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    If you were hired before the contract transition to private sector management, the pension makes everything worthwhile.

    Cons

    If you were hired after the transition, the deal isn't so good. A small 401K match is pretty much it, with some years with no raise at all, other years a 2% increase.

    Advice to Management

    The value proposition for younger employees needs a boost.

  11. Helpful (2)

    Software Engineer

    • 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)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Full of challenges, management gives you a wide latitude to research and deliver solutions. You are treated like a highly trained individual, not a 'cog in the machine'. Good work/like balance for people with families.
    Working in Livermore means you can find a lot of affordable housing (example: Tracy, $300k houses, 20 miles east of lab).

    Cons

    Salaries are not very competitive once an employee grows their skills and responsibilities into a senior software engineer/architecture role. Your salary will typically rise to the average salary level, then plateau. This is good for people that want a stable, 40 hour job, and are more focused on their family, but frustrating for someone that is ambitious.

    Advice to Management

    The salary ranking system for computer scientists constrains the size of raises that new, ambitious, hard working employees can get. I've seen this result in newer computer science employees learning a tremendous amount at the lab in their first few years, then getting disillusioned at the 3-5% raises they get. Facebook or Google is usually thrilled to offer them a 30% higher salary and grab them after we've done such a great job turning them into a highly skilled HPC software engineer.

    I think these issues are common across the DOE and other government labs. It's just exasperated because we're located net to Silicon Valley, a highly competitive area.

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Aug 28, 2014

    Thank you for taking the time to share this. We view compensation as a critical issue and will make a point of sharing your input with senior management.

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