American Institutes for Research

Principal Researcher, Workforce Development

Job Location US | US-VA-Arlington | US-MD-Rockville | US-NC-Chapel Hill | US-TX-Austin | US-IL-Chicago | US-MA | US-CA-Sacramento
Job ID
Job Location
United States


Established in 1946, with headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia, AIR is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research on important social issues and delivers technical assistance and capacity building services domestically and internationally in health, social development, education, and workforce to a growing roster of clients and partners. Our mission is to generate and use rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world.


AIR’s Workforce Development Program (within the Human Services Division) is seeking a Principal Researcher to join our program. The Principal Researcher will contribute to business development efforts and research and evaluation projects across a variety of topics—including workforce policy and programs (e.g., employment and unemployment, social insurance, trade assistance, apprenticeships, etc.), career and technical education, postsecondary education, adult learning, vocational rehabilitation, and training and employment efforts for justice-involved, opportunity youth, displaced workers and other underserved populations—and focused mainly on improving equitable opportunity and economic outcomes for disadvantaged populations and communities. We seek a dynamic leader who will thrive in a fast-paced yet collegial environment, working as part of a growing team with ambitious aspirations and evolving needs.


The Principal Researcher will work as part of research and proposal teams on several projects with the following responsibilities:

  • Serve as the principal investigator and/or project director for workforce development projects; manage or lead projects or tasks, including associated teams and budgets
  • Develop conceptual frameworks and designs for rigorous experimental, quasi-experimental, and descriptive studies
  • Manage and analyze large-scale data files for research, including data sets common for employment, unemployment insurance, disability, and other labor research
  • Apply appropriate quantitative techniques to collect and analyze data
  • Organize and document analytic results and research procedures
  • Prepare technical reports and journal articles and present findings to clients, professional associations and the public; Mentor junior researchers and research analysts by sharing best practices in conducting research and evaluation projects and task leadership, modeling effective approaches to solving concrete problems, and providing feedback on their work
  • Manage or lead projects or tasks, including associated teams and budgets
  • Serve as a quality assurance reviewer
  • Partner with program area-level leaders to advance strategic positioning, business development, policy/program influence, and thought leadership strategies
  • Lead capture, proposal, business and partnership development and write research proposals for Federal, state, foundation, and other clients
  • Maintain excellent relationships, serves as the primary client contact, and actively pursue business development through client relationships, partnership development, and by staying abreast of the direction of the field


  • PhD in economics, public policy, or related fields with expertise in econometrics and/or applied statistics, and at least 7 years of research, data analysis, and project management experience, or Masters Degree and at least 11 years of experience in the above areas
  • Research expertise in evaluation methods and workforce development topics and issues (as described above)
  • Experience working with the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and/or Health and Human Services, the Social Security Administration, and foundations focused on Workforce Development topics and issues (as described above) considered a plus
  • Training and experience in advanced quantitative methods and complex data analysis
  • Excellent writing skills, including understanding how to effectively communicate findings and policy implications from technical research for policymaker and practitioners
  • Excellent oral communication skills, including the capacity to collaborate professionally with clients, implementing partners, consultants, and other external stakeholders
  • Experience effectively leading and mentoring diverse teams of researchers working on research-focused projects and/or tasks within large/complex projects, including managing for work excellence, timeliness, and on-budget execution
  • Experience leading proposals, budgeting, and project management activities
  • Strong attention to detail and accuracy
  • Passion for bringing rigorous evidence to bear on policy and programmatic decision-making
  • Excellent organizational skills and ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously, meet deadlines, and manage own and team’s time
  • The position is ideal for someone who enjoys working as part of a team, likes working in an entrepreneurial atmosphere within a growing program area, and is passionate about improving equity in educational and economic opportunity for disadvantaged populations

Candidates hired for the position may initially start working remotely and will eventually have the option to work from one of our offices located in the Washington, DC; Chicago; Boston; Oakland; and Austin, TX, continue to work remotely, or pursue a hybrid work arrangement.


All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, national origin, protected veteran status, or disability.


AIR adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. 




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