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NIH Creates Workforce Categories

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After establishing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (SWD) position, it became necessary to identify which occupations comprised the scientific workforce. A trans-NIH workgroup with representatives from the Intramural, Extramural, Human Resources, and Diversity and Inclusion communities came together to take on this task. The group soon realized that to identify NIH’s scientific occupations, it was necessary to classify all positions. The result is a three-pronged occupational grouping: Scientific, Health and Research Related, and Infrastructure.

The scientific workforce is defined as those occupations that directly lead or conduct basic/clinical research, or provide scientific oversight for extramural research. Examples of these occupations include biologists, medical officers and health scientist administrators.

The Health and Research Related workforce is defined as those occupations that directly support basic or clinical research. Many of these occupations are allied health professions. Examples of these occupations include nurses, pharmacists and biological lab techs.

The Infrastructure workforce is defined as all occupations not classified as Scientific or Health and Research Related. These occupations undergird the scientific enterprise. Examples of these occupations include accountants, program analysts and secretaries.

Categorizing the workforce into these groups provides a standard conceptual and operational definition of the scientific workforce. This establishes uniformity across the Institutes and Centers. These workforce categories also create an opportunity to assess diversity within and across groups (Scientific, Health and Research Related, Infrastructure). This further informs the agency’s diversity and inclusion strategies.

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