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Medical scientists typically have a Ph.D., usually in biology or a related life science. Some medical scientists get a medical degree instead of a Ph.D., but prefer doing research to practicing as a physician.Education
Students planning careers as medical scientists typically pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or a related field. Undergraduate students benefit from taking a broad range of classes, including life sciences, physical sciences, and math. Students also typically take courses that develop communication and writing skills, because they must learn to write grants effectively and publish research findings.
After students have completed their undergraduate studies, they typically enter Ph.D. programs. Dual-degree programs are available that pair a Ph.D. with a range of specialized medical degrees. A few degree programs that are commonly paired with Ph.D. studies are Medical Doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.), and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). Whereas Ph.D. studies focus on research methods, such as project design and data interpretation, students in dual-degree programs learn both the clinical skills needed to be a physician and the research skills needed to be a scientist.
Graduate programs emphasize both laboratory work and original research. These programs offer prospective medical scientists the opportunity to develop their experiments and, sometimes, to supervise undergraduates. Ph.D. programs culminate in a thesis that the candidate presents before a committee of professors. Students may specialize in a particular field, such as gerontology, neurology, or cancer.
Those who go to medical school spend most of the first 2 years in labs and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, microbiology, pathology, medical ethics, and medical law. They also learn how to record medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses. They may be required to participate in residency programs, meeting the same requirements that physicians and surgeons have to fulfill.
Medical scientists often continue their education with postdoctoral work. Postdoctoral work provides additional and more independent lab experience, including experience in specific processes and techniques such as gene splicing, which is transferable to other research projects.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Medical scientists primarily conduct research and typically do not need licenses or certifications. However, those who administer drugs, gene therapy, or otherwise practice medicine on patients in clinical trials or a private practice need a license to practice as a physician.Important Qualities
Communication skills. Communication is critical, because medical scientists must be able to explain their conclusions. In addition, medical scientists write grant proposals, because grants often are required to fund their research.
Critical-thinking skills. Medical scientists must use their expertise to determine the best method for solving a specific research question.
Data-analysis skills. Medical scientists use statistical techniques, so that they can properly quantify and analyze health research questions.
Decisionmaking skills. Medical scientists must determine what research questions to ask, how best to investigate the questions, and what data will best answer the questions.
Observation skills. Medical scientists conduct experiments that require precise observation of samples and other health data. Any mistake could lead to inconclusive or misleading results.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Application Scientist
Top Careers After Application Scientist
Hispanic or Latino7.4%
Black or African American0.9%
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University of California - Davis11.0%
Pennsylvania State University11.0%
University of Connecticut7.3%
University of Cincinnati7.3%
University of Pittsburgh -6.1%
University of California - Berkeley4.9%
University of Rhode Island4.9%
North Carolina State University3.7%
University of Pennsylvania3.7%
University of Wisconsin Extension3.7%
University of Central Florida3.7%
Indiana University Bloomington3.7%
University of Nebraska - Lincoln3.7%
University of Illinois at Chicago3.7%
State University of New York Buffalo3.7%
Iowa State University3.7%
Michigan State University3.7%
University of Wyoming3.7%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Applications Scientist||Openeye Scientific Software, Inc.||Santa Fe, NM||Sep 30, 2016||$130,594|
|Application Scientist||Agilent Technologies, Inc.||Santa Clara, CA||Jun 12, 2015||$110,000|
|Sample Prep Application Scientist||Gatan, Inc.||Pleasanton, CA||Jun 13, 2016||$109,762 -
|Nonwovens Applications Scientist||Eastman Chemical Company||Kingsport, TN||Jul 10, 2016||$107,500 -
|Applications Scientist||Nanometrics Inc.||Hillsboro, OR||Oct 01, 2014||$104,403|
|Application Scientist||Optiscan Biomedical Corporation||Hayward, CA||Jun 03, 2015||$104,350|
|Polymer Applications Scientist||Eastman Chemical Co.||Kingsport, TN||Aug 30, 2015||$104,000|
|Applications Scientist||Nanometrics, Inc.||Hillsboro, OR||Jan 26, 2016||$103,043|
|Applications Scientist||Openeye Scientific Software, Inc.||Santa Fe, NM||Sep 30, 2013||$102,410|
|Applications Scientist||Bruker Biospin Corp.||Billerica, MA||Jul 02, 2015||$101,200|
|Applications Scientist||Nanometrics Inc.||Hillsboro, OR||Oct 01, 2014||$100,286|
|Application Scientist||Bruker Daltonics Inc.||Fremont, CA||Oct 13, 2014||$100,000|
|Applications Scientist||Hysitron, Inc.||Berkeley, CA||Jan 07, 2016||$100,000|
|Application Scientist Engineer||G-Way Microwave||South Hackensack, NJ||Sep 22, 2015||$88,500 -
|Applications Scientist||Rudolph Technologies, Inc.||Budd Lake, NJ||Nov 01, 2014||$88,000|
|Application Scientist||BGI Americas Corporation||Cambridge, MA||Jun 10, 2015||$86,400|
|Applications Scientist||Nanometrics, Inc.||Chandler, AZ||Nov 08, 2016||$85,966 -
|Application Scientist||Bayspec, Inc.||San Jose, CA||Jun 18, 2015||$85,467|
|Application Scientist||Nanometrics, Inc.||Albany, NY||Sep 13, 2014||$85,000|
|Applications Scientist||E.A. Fischione Instruments, Inc.||Export, PA||Nov 15, 2014||$84,649|
|Applications Support Scientist II-Thermophysical Properties||Ta Instruments-Waters LLC||New Castle, DE||Nov 19, 2015||$84,115|
|Applications Scientist||Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Inc.||Goleta, CA||Aug 14, 2016||$77,220|
|Applications Scientist-X-Ray Diffraction||Bruker AXS Inc.||Fremont, CA||Mar 16, 2015||$75,962|
|Application Scientist Specialist||Brown University||Providence, RI||Mar 15, 2013||$75,000|
|Applications Scientist||Precisive LLC||Woburn, MA||Sep 12, 2013||$75,000|
|Application Scientist||Optiscan Biomedical Corporation||Hayward, CA||Feb 03, 2015||$75,000 -
|Applications Scientist||Caliper Life Sciences, Inc.||Hopkinton, MA||Sep 05, 2014||$73,840 -
|Applications Scientist||Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Inc.||New York, NY||Sep 15, 2016||$73,784|
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