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Become An Associate Scientist

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Working As An Associate Scientist

  • Getting Information
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $78,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Associate Scientist Do

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings.

Duties

Medical scientists typically do the following:

  • Design and conduct studies that investigate both human diseases and methods to prevent and treat them
  • Prepare and analyze medical samples and data to investigate causes and treatment of toxicity, pathogens, or chronic diseases
  • Standardize drug potency, doses, and methods to allow for the mass manufacturing and distribution of drugs and medicinal compounds
  • Create and test medical devices
  • Develop programs that improve health outcomes, in partnership with health departments, industry personnel, and physicians
  • Write research grant proposals and apply for funding from government agencies and private funding sources
  • Follow procedures to avoid contamination and maintain safety

Many medical scientists form hypotheses and develop experiments, with little supervision. They often lead teams of technicians, and sometimes students, who perform support tasks. For example, a medical scientist working in a university laboratory may have undergraduate assistants take measurements and make observations for the scientist’s research.

Medical scientists study the causes of diseases and other health problems. For example, a medical scientist who does cancer research might put together a combination of drugs that could slow the cancer’s progress. A clinical trial may be done to test the drugs. A medical scientist may work with licensed physicians to test the new combination on patients who are willing to participate in the study.

In a clinical trial, patients agree to help determine if a particular drug, a combination of drugs, or some other medical intervention works. Without knowing which group they are in, patients in a drug-related clinical trial receive either the trial drug or a placebo—a pill or injection that looks like the trial drug but does not actually contain the drug.

Medical scientists analyze the data from all the patients in the clinical trial, to see how the trial drug performed. They compare the results with those obtained from the control group that took the placebo, and they analyze the attributes of the participants. After they complete their analysis, medical scientists may write about and publish their findings.

Medical scientists do research both to develop new treatments and to try to prevent health problems. For example, they may study the link between smoking and lung cancer or between diet and diabetes.

Medical scientists who work in private industry usually have to research the topics that benefit their company the most, rather than investigate their own interests. Although they may not have the pressure of writing grant proposals to get money for their research, they may have to explain their research plans to nonscientist managers or executives.

Medical scientists usually specialize in an area of research. The following are examples of types of medical scientists:

Cancer researchers research the causes of cancers, as well as ways to prevent and cure cancers. They may specialize in one or more types of cancer.

Clinical and medical informaticians develop new ways to use large datasets. They look for explanations of health outcomes through the statistical analysis of data.

Clinical pharmacologists research, develop, and test current and new drugs. They investigate the full effects that drugs have on human health. Their interests may range from understanding specific molecules to the effects that drugs have on large populations.

Gerontologists study the changes that people go through as they get older. Medical scientists who specialize in this field seek to understand the biology of aging and investigate ways to improve the quality of our later years. 

Immunochemists investigate the reactions and effects that various chemicals and drugs have on the human immune system.

Neuroscientists study the brain and nervous system.

Research histologists have a specific skill set that is used to study human tissue. They investigate how tissue grows, heals, and dies, and may investigate grafting techniques that can help people who have experienced serious injury.  

Serologists research fluids found in the human body, such as blood and saliva. Applied serologists often work in forensic science. For more information on forensic science, see the profile on forensic science technicians.

Toxicologists research the harmful effects of drugs, household chemicals, and other potentially poisonous substances. They seek to ensure the safety of drugs, radiation, and other treatments by investigating safe dosage limits.

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How To Become An Associate Scientist

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.

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Associate Scientist Career Paths

Associate Scientist
Research Scientist Scientist
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Scientist Project Manager Quality Manager
Quality Assurance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Director Nursing Director
Director Of Clinical Operations
12 Yearsyrs
Chemist Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Director
9 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior Scientist
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager
Research And Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Consultant Senior Manager
Director Of Analytics
12 Yearsyrs
Chemist Quality Control Supervisor Quality Control Manager
Quality Control Director
9 Yearsyrs
Chemist Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Regulatory Affairs Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Consultant Senior Analyst
Analytical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Analytical Chemist Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Manager Of Operations
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Engineering Director Research And Development Director
Vice President Of Research And Development
13 Yearsyrs
Staff Scientist Project Manager President
Chief Science Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Analytical Chemist Laboratory Supervisor
Clinical Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Research Fellow Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Biologist Environmental Scientist
Senior Scientist, Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Staff Scientist Senior Research Associate
Study Director
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Chemist Technical Director Vice President Of Research And Development
Chief Scientific Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Analyst Contract Analyst Grant Manager
Associate Director Of Development
8 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Scientist 4.9 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Lead Scientist 3.7 years
Staff Scientist 3.5 years
Scientist 3.4 years
Contract Scientist 1.4 years
Top Careers Before Associate Scientist
Internship 5.5%
Scientist 5.0%
Chemist 5.0%
Technician 2.0%
Researcher 1.9%
Top Careers After Associate Scientist
Scientist 26.9%
Chemist 3.5%
Consultant 3.0%
Manager 1.9%
Associate 1.6%

Do you work as an Associate Scientist?

Associate Scientist Demographics

Gender

Female

46.5%

Male

42.5%

Unknown

11.0%
Ethnicity

White

52.9%

Asian

20.2%

Hispanic or Latino

12.5%

Black or African American

9.9%

Unknown

4.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

33.6%

French

14.5%

Chinese

8.6%

German

8.6%

Mandarin

5.9%

Hindi

4.1%

Russian

3.6%

Cantonese

3.2%

Japanese

3.2%

Gujarati

1.8%

Carrier

1.8%

Portuguese

1.8%

Marathi

1.4%

Korean

1.4%

Persian

1.4%

Urdu

1.4%

Sami

0.9%

Dutch

0.9%

Tamil

0.9%

Xiang

0.9%
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Associate Scientist Education

Schools

Johns Hopkins University

7.8%

Pennsylvania State University

7.6%

North Carolina State University

7.4%

Northeastern University

7.4%

University of California - Davis

6.8%

University of California - San Diego

6.7%

University of Delaware

5.5%

Temple University

5.4%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.9%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

4.8%

University of Maryland - University College

4.0%

University of Connecticut

3.9%

San Jose State University

3.9%

Drexel University

3.9%

University of Washington

3.8%

University of California - Berkeley

3.4%

University of Florida

3.2%

Michigan State University

3.2%

Boston University

3.2%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

3.2%
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Majors

Biology

24.2%

Chemistry

22.6%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

11.6%

Pharmacy

6.3%

Biotechnology

6.1%

Microbiology

5.0%

Business

4.6%

Chemical Engineering

2.6%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

2.3%

Biomedical Engineering

2.0%

Environmental Science

1.9%

Pharmacology

1.6%

Biomedical Sciences

1.4%

Animal Science

1.2%

Zoology

1.2%

Food Science

1.1%

Physiology And Anatomy

1.1%

Management

1.1%

Medical Technician

1.1%

Public Health

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

42.9%

Masters

35.3%

Doctorate

10.6%

Other

6.2%

Certificate

2.6%

Associate

1.9%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.0%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$78,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$53,000
Min 10%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$78,000
Median 50%
$115,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Dicerna Pharmaceuticals
Highest Paying City
Redwood City, CA
Highest Paying State
California
Avg Experience Level
3.2 years
How much does an Associate Scientist make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Associate Scientist in the United States is $78,805 per year or $38 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $53,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $115,000.

Real Associate Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Associate Scientist Horizon Discovery, Inc. Cambridge, MA May 10, 2016 $135,655
Associate Scientist Brookhaven National Laboratory NY Jan 10, 2016 $121,004
Associate Scientist Brookhaven National Laboratory NY Jan 10, 2016 $120,600
Associate Scientist II Janssen Research & Development, LLC San Diego, CA Feb 23, 2015 $108,410
Associate Scientist The Dow Chemical Company Freeport, TX May 20, 2016 $107,598 -
$141,924
Associate/Scientist Abt Associates Inc. Bethesda, MD Apr 09, 2016 $107,120
Associate Scientist, Development-M and S Genentech, Inc. South San Francisco, CA Aug 31, 2016 $104,894 -
$164,200
Associate/Scientist Abt Associates Inc. Bethesda, MD Apr 09, 2016 $104,749
Associate Scientist Brookhaven National Laboratory NY Jan 10, 2016 $104,496
Associate Scientist Brookhaven National Laboratory NY Jan 10, 2016 $104,150
Associate Scientist, Development Genentech, Inc. South San Francisco, CA Aug 12, 2016 $103,771 -
$149,400
Associate Scientist-Clinical Pharmacology Genentech, Inc. South San Francisco, CA Aug 20, 2016 $103,771 -
$149,400
Associate Scientist .02 Molecular & Cellular Blgts) Pro Unlimited, Inc. South San Francisco, CA Feb 23, 2016 $79,872
Associate Scientist .02 Molecular & Cellular Blgts) Pro Unlimited, Inc. San Francisco, CA Feb 23, 2016 $79,872
Associate Scientist (Analytical Research & Method Developmen G&W Pa Laboratories, LLC Sellersville, PA Feb 11, 2015 $79,500
Associate Scientist (Analytical Research & Method Developmen G&W Laboratories, Inc. Sellersville, PA Feb 11, 2015 $79,500
Associate Scientist Schlumberger Technology Corporation Cambridge, MA Sep 02, 2015 $78,894 -
$104,700
Associate Scientist Schlumberger Technology Corporation Cambridge, MA Feb 09, 2015 $78,894 -
$104,700
Associate Scientist I, Process Development Gilead Sciences, Inc. Oceanside, CA Mar 09, 2015 $78,820 -
$102,295
Associate Scientist I EMD Serono Research and Development Institute, Inc. Billerica, MA Jan 07, 2016 $78,507
Associate Scientist II University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Silver Spring, MD Sep 14, 2015 $67,486
Associate Scientist II, Technical Development Biogen IDEC, Inc. Cambridge, MA Jun 25, 2015 $67,289
Associate Scientist Brigham and Women's Hospital Cambridge, MA Jan 01, 2015 $67,201
KH Associate Scientist Kemin Foods, LC Des Moines, IA Sep 09, 2015 $67,200
Associate Scientist II Nestle R&D Center, Inc. Marysville, OH May 08, 2016 $67,000 -
$87,000
Associate Scientist II, Technical Development Biogen, Inc. Cambridge, MA Mar 30, 2016 $67,000 -
$69,000

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Top Skills for An Associate Scientist

  1. Lab Equipment
  2. Analytical Methods
  3. Cell Culture
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Manage bi-weekly resources schedule for lab users and utilize lab equipment efficiently and effectively.
  • Demonstrated success developing, implementing, and executing analytical methods to support the progression of drug research and manufacturing support.
  • Performed manufacturing support, investigations and trouble-shooting for upstream cell culture.
  • Perform laboratory experiments according to Standard Testing Procedures and Standard Operational Procedures, as well as current Good Manufacturing Practices.
  • Participated in the planning and execution of 5 equipment and facility validation protocols.

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Top 10 Best States for Associate Scientists

  1. California
  2. Delaware
  3. Maryland
  4. Maine
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Virginia
  7. Nevada
  8. New Mexico
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Connecticut
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