Los Alamos National Laboratory Reviews | Glassdoor

Los Alamos National Laboratory Reviews

Updated April 24, 2017
220 reviews

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3.9
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Los Alamos National Laboratory Director & President Charles McMillan
Charles McMillan
97 Ratings

220 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great pay, work/life balance, job satisfaction (in 23 reviews)

  • Excellent pay and benefits, opportunity to work into placement instead of solely relying on prior education (in 10 reviews)

Cons
  • Nearest real town is about 40 minutes away (but the small town feel is actually kinda cool) (in 20 reviews)

  • Next largest town is Santa Fe - 35 miles away; Albuquerque (in 16 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Nuclear Operations Supervisor at Los Alamos National Laboratory"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Nuclear Shift Operations Manager in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Nuclear Shift Operations Manager in Los Alamos, NM
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Excellent pay and benefits, opportunity to work into placement instead of solely relying on prior education.

    Cons

    Only major employer in the area. Must work at the Laboratory, in order to subsist.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "My thoughts on LANL"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Information Security Specialist in Los Alamos, NM
    Former Employee - Information Security Specialist in Los Alamos, NM
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    BENEFITS: Are great. Free vision, dental, basic life insurance (equal to 1 year of salary). I have 20/20 vision and had vision insurance for the hell of it. Retirement is great -- they no longer do pensions, however I got a 3.5% unmatched employer contribution to my 401k and they match 100% beyond that up to 6% of my salary. I believe I accrued 3 weeks of vacation a year, about 15 paid holidays, and then sick leave. It also does not seem uncommon to have unpaid leave approved if you want to take a few months off or something -- I think that depends on your management. Work/life balance is great. They have a variety of work schedules (9/80 being the most popular -- 80 hours in 9 days, then every other Friday off). PPO and high deductible healthcare option; I couldn't figure out a way to make the high deductible plan cost effective even though my medical expenses were low (your miles may vary). PPO was great: great premiums, low deductibles, and decent copay.
    The surrounding Jemez mountains are phenomenally beautiful. Any science/technology job here will be impressive on a resume. Top tier minds. Apparently the city of Los Alamos has the highest concentration of Nobel laureates per capita in the world. Or so I heard.
    PAY/PAY RAISES: People here are generally compensated well. Go look at the HR page -- they list a salary range for each posted position. I will say that a lot of the pay bands don't make sense in relation to each other. For example, cyber security professionals are worth more on the market than sys admins, though IIRC, they are both in the same paybands. I got a 5.5% pay raise my first year and 7.5% my second. In my exit interview I was told I was about to be promoted and get another bump had I not left. My management loved me and was able to compensate accordingly. This is probably not representative of the lab as a whole. I know of people who reported they had gotten almost nothing during the same time period. Furthermore, my initial salary was good to start with.
    COWORKERS: Loved my coworkers. They were great. Nothing but positive things to say here; your miles may vary obviously.
    COOPERATE CULTURE: National Labs tend to be laid back. People are pretty stringent about working 40 hours a week (this ain't no startup!). Dress is casual. Tshirt, jeans, and tennis shoes are common; business casual is about as formal as it gets. I have now worked for two national labs and collaborated with three others -- they all seem to be pretty similar in terms of culture.
    OVERALL: I would definitely be open to returning to LANL some day. In fact when I decided to make a move, LANL was my number 1 choice for employment. The issues that caused me to leave were not with LANL, nor my coworkers. Rather dissatisfaction with my role and inability to move laterally within LANL. I would DEFINITELY recommend working at LANL (if you can tolerate living in Los Alamos) and if not LANL then one of the other National Labs.

    Cons

    Disclaimer: I worked extensively with lab IT and IT/business management. Mission is different though might have some commonalities. I encountered Politics, politics, politics. It seems people have high job security and are paid well (read: bad employees who are unable to acquire better jobs never leave). During my time at LANL I dealt with *way too many people* who would write and say things that were simply incoherent and/or irrational. Job security can be a double edged sword. Further some top talent is hesitant to come to Los Alamos due to the isolated nature of the Lab.
    BUREAUCRACY: The bureaucracy is mind numbing -- this is largely a function of NNSA and federal oversight/regulatory environment. I now work at ORNL and the regulatory environment is *much* lighter.
    NNSA: Seriously, NNSA is filled with a bunch of buffoons. Go read NNSA's glassdoor reviews if you don't believe me. I worked with NNSA, NNSA contractors, and other NNSA M&Os about as much as any LANL employee ever would -- NNSA constantly gets in the way of mission in ways that are irrational and adds no value. The other M&O's reported the same things and NNSA contractors expressed frustration with the Feds. I once had a conversation with one of LANL's weapons designers and he compared NNSA to a bunch of neanderthals. They add a layer of completely, totally, and utterly mindless bureaucracy. Without a shadow of a doubt NNSA is successful in its mission to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the United State's enduring stockpile exclusively because the M&Os are so effective. They are successful despite themselves.
    LOS ALAMOS: I was walking around downtown one day around noon and did not see a human for about 2-3 minutes. Weird place with a strange sort of vibe. Restaurant selection is limited and consistently remarkably average in terms of quality. Limited selection of stores considering the population of the town. Needless to say, this is not the place to go if you want a night life. Real estate/Apartments are expensive considering Los Alamos is in the middle of nowhere (land is limited on the mesa). Apartments are difficult to find (again limited space), specifically during the summer during intern season. Houses are nearly impossible to buy. That said, some of the land lords I spoke with said they reserve apartments for full time lab employees willing to sign a 6 month or 1 year lease. It took me about a week to find an apartment, with move in 3 weeks later (I am full time). If you are an intern, one land lord told me that her intern waiting list starts in February for May apartments. Plan accordingly, or if nothing else understand you might have to commute from Espanola or Sante Fe.
    HIRING PROCESS AND HR: Don't expect the hiring process to be faster than 4 months. Don't quit your job before your offer letter arrives. *Every* time estimate I was given was wrong and ended up getting postponed.

    Advice to Management

    I'm not arrogant enough to think I know how to run a complicated organization like LANL. IMO Lab management on the whole is pretty effective at delivering on its mission; some of the business/IT groups: not so much.


  3. Helpful (1)

    "Great Lab, Great People, Great Science"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Professional in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Professional in Los Alamos, NM
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Los Alamos is truly one of the most intriguing places to work. You meet so many exceptional individuals. The pay and the flexible 9/80 schedules are great. Love the community!

    Cons

    Individuals with no people skills are made managers.

    Also, every new hire begins to quickly learn that everyone's son, daughter, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, husband, wife, ex-husband, ex-wife, uncle, aunt, cousin, 2nd cousin, 3rd cousin, boyfriend, girlfriend, godmother, godfather, grandpa, and grandma all work at the lab. It is one giant family reunion every day, all day. Welcome to Northern New Mexico. Brilliant.

    Advice to Management

    Please don't let individuals become managers that have no people skills. They will in turn make poor people decisions.


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  5. "Post Doc"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Fellow in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Fellow in Los Alamos, NM
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    world class research environment. High-standard research

    Cons

    located on a mountain, a little remote


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Manager"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Group Leader in Los Alamos, NM
    Former Employee - Group Leader in Los Alamos, NM
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great technical people to work with. Los Alamos is a wonderful town to raise a family. First responders are 2nd to none!

    Cons

    LANL has a flawed methodology for selecting people into management. A major percentage manage through bullying, fear and intimidation tactics. They are only interested in their own next promotion with no regards to encouraging, training, advancing and promoting their staffs.

    Advice to Management

    Develop a program that identifies staff with true management potential and skills. Getting the decision right in who you name manager and how you develop them is the most important decision any organizational leader can make. LANL (as a whole) has no concept of this.


  7. "Not a bad place to work if you work on the programmatic side!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Engineer II in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Engineer II in Los Alamos, NM
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great 401k match - Automatic 3.5% match and another sliding match up to 6%
    Pretty good health care - still has a PPO option
    3 weeks vacation, 2 weeks sick leave, and 12 paid hoildays
    Flexible work schedules - 9/80 workweeks, regular 40

    The only reason LANL gets a 3 stars from me is because of the above benefits.

    Cons

    Work culture is bad and morale is bad. Not much promotion from your current position. To get promoted you have change positions and apply for them like your a new employee. Hard to move around the Lab.

    Management is not engaged. No professional development. Lots of politics so no clear rules on who gets promoted.

    They use a bell curve for performance ratings so every year there are 5% to 10% people that have to be put in the needs improvement or bottom. Which means you either get no raise or very little like 1% whether you are a good employee or not. De moralizing process.

    Advice to Management

    Get rid of the demoralizing performance reviews. This is a major cause of employee turnover. Its okay to tell your employees that they did a good job!


  8. "Good Lab"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Scientist IV in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Scientist IV in Los Alamos, NM
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Many excellent scientists doing great things

    Cons

    very small town at a remote area


  9. "Scietist IV"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Scientist IV in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Scientist IV in Los Alamos, NM
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Exciting research, challenging missions, great technical teams.

    Cons

    Inbreeding amongst management is a problem. Lack of outside world perspectives.

    Advice to Management

    Betting management training and incorporate external experiences better.


  10. "Rewarding Work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Scientist IV in Santa Fe, NM
    Current Employee - Scientist IV in Santa Fe, NM
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great people, beautiful location, good benefits, job security. Get to work with latest technology. Able to attend conferences and training

    Cons

    Small town. Need to travel to Albuquerque for flights. Not a lot of choices for shopping and restaurant. Dusty in summertime and people develop allergies

    Advice to Management

    Great job


  11. "Postdoctoral Research Associate"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Los Alamos, NM
    Current Employee - Postdoctoral Research Associate in Los Alamos, NM
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    good salary compare to other placess, very good support financially and academically, secure and very good outdoors

    Cons

    very restricted on many things. administration is not very research friendly/. there is no much academic freedom. many exchange and communications between academia . but not enough. it is not near many good insitutes like both coasts.

    Advice to Management

    It is so because of the type of lab it is. I have no idea how that will change. maybe that's the trade offs


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