Postdoc Core Competencies


Modified from the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Core Competencies, and aligned with the UC Berkeley Graduate Professional Development Competencies, the VSPA has outlined nine competencies that provide a skill-development framework for postdocs to utilize, in collaboration with their mentors. These competencies are meant to complement the discipline-specific conceptual knowledge that you are acquiring and can serve as a basis for self-evaluation and can help guide you as you design your professional development activities. Although these competencies are designed to fit the needs of the majority of postdocs, you should prioritize the skills that are most applicable to your own training environments and career aspirations.

All VSPA-sponsored programs align with the development of these competencies. Review the VSPA Events page for the latest program offerings that will help you develop and enhance your competencies.

The VSPA classifies the nine core competencies as:


Career Development (CD)

Plan your transition from Postdoc to effective applicant; Refine your learning and growth perspective, (re)exploring career options, and honing job market skills.


Leadership and Management (L&M)

Recognize strengths and build upon them to confidently lead others.


Writing and Communication (W&C)

Communicate with intention, clarity, and impact.


Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E)

Develop an entrepreneurial mindset to explore and pursue the spectrum of opportunities within your research.


Teaching and Mentoring (T&M)

Assess, practice, and enhance your teaching and mentorship skills. 


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Justice (DEIBJ)

Understand and commit to building a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just community.

Three people connected

Collaboration/Teamwork (C/T)

Hone skills that facilitate group synergy, effectiveness, and progress.

Quote boxes from two different people

Negotiation (NG)

Build confidence in your ability to negotiate by understanding and developing strategies that facilitate mutually beneficial outcomes.


Wellness (Well)

Develop a lifelong practice of health, wellness, and fitness.