Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Scientist Reviews | Glassdoor

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Scientist Reviews

Updated September 20, 2018
66 reviews

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3.9
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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Bill Goldstein
Bill Goldstein
23 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "Work life balance is the biggest advantage" (in 100 reviews)

  • "As a grad student: lots of resources, cutting edge research opportunities" (in 34 reviews)

Cons
  • "Being a government contractor does mean there is a lot of red tape" (in 38 reviews)

  • "High cost of living in Bay Area" (in 15 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "A place where you can do awesome work *and* have a life outside of work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I'm a bit over a decade into my career here at LLNL. During that decade+, I've been able to work on a wide variety of things from computer hardware, to software development, to team leadership. My colleagues are generally excellent: they work hard, their egos are non-existent, they're interested in building great stuff as a team, and they're as willing to learn as they are to teach.

    I get to work on projects that push the frontier of high performance computing. The fact that some of the world's most powerful supercomputers are just downstairs from my office is simply amazing. That I get to help, in my own small way, push that frontier forward is the opportunity of a lifetime.

    And, not only do we push the art of supercomputers forward, but there's tons of amazing, world-altering science and engineering occurring here at LLNL. The Lab's catchphrase is "science in the national interest." And it's true! When I think about all the world-class scientific discoveries which I indirectly support, I'm consistently blown away. I love my iPhone, but the work to help create the next-generation smartphone pales in comparison to all the scientific discoveries and breakthroughs occurring here at LLNL.

    As wonderful as the work atmosphere is, I'm also able to have a great non-work life. I'm able to be home each evening to have dinner with my wife and kids. My weekends are family time, not extra work time. Schedule flexibility is pervasive (for example, the AWS schedule that gives me every-other Friday off is quite nice). And I can afford to live in the same town where I work: there's no soul-crushing commute wherein it takes me 35 minutes to move 10 miles on a jammed freeway.

    Cons

    Cons — doesn't every organization have them? The Lab is a large organization. Sometimes the gears of progress grind more slowly than they should in surprising places. For example, it takes a looooong time to get a new computer for your office.

    Being that this is a quasi-governmental organization, there are various restrictions in place that you might not experience out in private industry. There are no stock options, no exceptional account-busting bonuses, no compensation for volunteer work, no kegs with fresh beer at the end of the hallway, or other types of perks that you might expect at a Google, Apple, or other typical Silicon Valley enterprises. But, the fact that I get to see my family at a reasonable time at the end of every day more than makes up for the lack.

    Another con is that Silicon Valley is close by; the companies there love to poach Lab employees. This can be difficult. It's hard to see a steady stream of my fellow colleagues get enticed by the large salaries, free lunches and dinners, in-building massages, and other Silicon Valley enticements.

    Advice to Management

    Figure out how to stem the flow of our colleagues heading out to work in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley isn't going anywhere; the problem won't solve itself. It's going to take active and creative measures — including how the Lab sells itself to potential new employees — in order to keep people working on all the important problems we have before us here at LLNL.


  2. "Great work environment, benefits"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The work going on at LLNL is really exciting
    People are very welcoming and friendly
    Seems to be plenty of room for advancement
    Plenty of conference opportunities

    Cons

    Sometimes takes a long time to get things approved, slow moving
    Often work long hours

  3. "High Performance Computing"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Get to work in HPC on some of the fastest supercomputers in the world.

    Cons

    Sometimes very slow adopting new technologies.


  4. "Staff Scientist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Staff Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Staff Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    challenging, important work in the national interest

    Cons

    high pressure, short deadlines, easy to get over subscribed


  5. "Research Scientist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Research Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Brilliant employees, nice place to be in

    Cons

    Fluctuation in funding, have to keep looking for projects, unstable

    Advice to Management

    employees should not be looking for projects and funds. It is management responsibility to provide funds.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Salaries"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Staff Scientist
    Current Employee - Staff Scientist
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Need to think hard to find a good reason. As a scientist, I can tell that science is treated arbitrarily, no evaluation takes place, and ranking and salary increases are determined solely by the management. Nothing good as far as I am concerned.

    Cons

    Non-existing morale, arbitrary treatment of scientists, suppressing debate, funding given on the basis of personal acquaintance and need of funding rather than worth of ideas, Also see above.

    Advice to Management

    The management displays a complete lack of honor in handling scientific work. It is completely disinterested in the quality of the science especially in the area of stockpile stewardship. Advice? Turn it 180 degrees.

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Response

    Feb 23, 2018 – Employee Relations Program Leader

    Thank you for providing your feedback. At LLNL, we highly value our scientists and all of the Laboratory community, as our mission is to strengthen the nation’s security through development and... More


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Computer Scientist"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    World class programming challenges, world class supercomputers to work on. Brilliant and friendly people to work with. National security is a vital mission, and that is what LLNL does.

    Cons

    Stifling red tape and regulations. Staggering amounts of training required. If you need a government clearance, two years is probably what to expect for the wait, unless you have something unusual---then it is anybody's guess.

    Advice to Management

    Work life balance is really important to me with a young family: I'm glad that's an LLNL priority. However, so is compensation parity with the private sector.

  8. "great coworkers, good work-life balance"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    most people here have advanced degrees like PhDs. You can most define your pace of working. No one raises eyebrows if you take vacations.

    Cons

    layers of paperwork to get things approved. Management overhead is high.

    Advice to Management

    Reduce management overhead


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Excellent Career Opportunity"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Staff Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Staff Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - The Lab works at the frontier of technological and scientific innovation. As such, the work can be extremely challenging, but very rewarding at the same time.
     - Work/life flexibility is excellent and the benefits are superior to anything I have seen in industry.
     - Some of the brightest minds in the world work at this facility, so there is always something to learn from someone and there are always interesting things happening.

    Cons

    - Given the nature of the work, the performance expectations from management and sponsors are extremely high. This results in a very stressful work environment.
     - Things move on the geologic timescale at this facility, so sometimes it can take much longer to accomplish things than desired.

    Advice to Management

    - The management should work more closely with new employees to help them become acclimated to the laboratory missions, structure, and culture.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Work/life balance and the biggest computers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Current Employee - Computer Scientist in Livermore, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    If you want to work on multi-disciplinary scientific problems of national importance, there's no place better. The world's most powerful computers are sited here and we are constantly challenged to apply that raw power in meaningful ways. There is always something new to research or simulate. You can work a 9-5 schedule, or put in lots of overtime and get rewarded proportionally. People tend to have long careers, so there is a willingness to invest in training. You can move around to many various areas or stay in one place, both are acceptable. There is no salary negotiation, since the annual review process tries to be fair to everyone. Promotion is almost always from within. For many of these above reasons there are more women, even in management, in technical roles than comparable private-sector employers. (Not that there are huge numbers of women, but, for instance, I once had a female direct supervisor and the three levels above her.) Health insurance is excellent and affordable. Since it's located further out than the most expensive parts of the Bay Area, it's possible to buy a home in town. Lots of people bike to work.

    Cons

    The wait for clearances is routinely 18 months or more (The Washington Post says an average of over 15 months, don't know where the management is getting this 12-13 number). However, LLNL has no control over (or visibility into) that process. Many areas of basic science, such as lasers, seismology, computer science, etc. have some connection to nuclear weapons work, if you find that objectionable. Salaries are lower on an absolute basis than the private sector, though the per-hour rate, especially if you factor in commuting and benefits, is competitive. No stock options, obviously. Because of the weird management structure, we get most of the restrictions of being federal employees with few of the benefits of being, technically, private sector contractors. So no federal GS steps or cost of living adjustments, but also no pension or TSP (thrift savings plan). Getting hired in the first place is difficult unless you have very high-level technical skills or know someone involved in the hiring process, you must be a U.S. citizen for most jobs. There is a fair amount of training, not nearly as much red tape as I expected at the level of individual employees. Once you get into management, it is pretty bad. There are 250 separate Department of Energy policies, orders, and mandates that LLNL must adhere to, and all of it is subject to auditing for compliance. It took me hours and hours of work, and probably a solid week from my administrative staff, just to get one off-site collaborator approved for computer access. And then it has to be renewed (somewhat less work) every year. If you just want to write code or do science, the burden is minimal. There is lots of LLNL-specific jargon.