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Become A Bioinformatician

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Working As A Bioinformatician

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

  • $81,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Bioinformatician 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 A Bioinformatician

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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Bioinformatician Jobs

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Do you work as a Bioinformatician?

Average Yearly Salary
$81,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$39,000
Min 10%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$170,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
The Dow Chemical Company
Highest Paying City
Fort Collins, CO
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
1.7 years
How much does a Bioinformatician make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Bioinformatician in the United States is $81,706 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $39,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $170,000.

Real Bioinformatician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Bioinformatician Ubiome San Francisco, CA Jan 20, 2015 $140,000
Senior Bioinformatician Natera, Inc. San Carlos, CA Sep 08, 2014 $140,000
Senior Bioinformatician Natera, Inc. San Carlos, CA Jul 12, 2015 $135,000
Senior Bioinformatician Preventiongenetics, LLC Marshfield, WI May 14, 2015 $123,000
Bioinformatician Dnanexus, Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 16, 2016 $123,000
Bioinformatician Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Sep 01, 2013 $120,000
Senior Bioinformatician The University of Chicago Chicago, IL Jan 04, 2016 $116,699
Bioinformatician II Duke University and Medical Center Durham, NC Dec 01, 2014 $116,438
Senior Bioinformatician Preventiongenetics, LLC Marshfield, WI Sep 16, 2013 $110,000
Senior Bioinformatician Preventiongenetics, LLC Marshfield, WI Sep 09, 2013 $110,000
Senior Bioinformatician, Research and Development Advaita Corporation Plymouth, MI Apr 27, 2016 $108,306
Enterprise Platform Bioinformatician Seven Bridges Genomics Inc. Cambridge, MA Oct 31, 2014 $104,728
Senior Bioinformatician Partners Healthcare Cambridge, MA May 18, 2015 $102,000
Bioinformatician The University of Chicago Chicago, IL Nov 02, 2016 $81,600
Bioinformatician In Molecular Diagnostics Fulgent Therapeutics LLC Temple City, CA Jan 09, 2016 $81,500
Bioinformatician Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Mar 10, 2014 $81,000
Bioinformatician The University of Chicago Chicago, IL Oct 01, 2014 $80,800
Bioinformatician The University of Chicago Chicago, IL Mar 03, 2015 $80,800
Bioinformatician The University of Chicago Chicago, IL Mar 10, 2015 $80,800
Bioinformatician Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY Feb 28, 2015 $80,000
Bioinformatician Partners Healthcare Boston, MA Aug 26, 2016 $69,950
Next Generation Sequencing LAB. Bioinformatician Dow Agrosciences, LLC Indianapolis, IN Oct 01, 2014 $69,948 -
$104,916
Bioinformatician Dow Agrosciences LLC Indianapolis, IN Aug 10, 2015 $69,948 -
$104,916
Bioinformatician Dow Agrosciences, LLC Indianapolis, IN Oct 01, 2013 $67,908 -
$101,856
Next Generation Sequencing Laboratory Bioinformatician Dow Agrosciences LLC Indianapolis, IN Apr 13, 2015 $67,908 -
$101,856
Bioinformatician University of Mississippi Medical Center Jackson, MS Jan 09, 2016 $67,000
Bioinformatician IHRC, Incorporated Atlanta, GA Nov 19, 2015 $66,373 -
$87,500

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Top Skills for A Bioinformatician

  1. Data Analysis
  2. Human Genome
  3. Perl
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed Exploratory Data Analysis regarding characterizing the main characteristics of data.
  • Conducted Fisher exact test followed by B-H correction to determine gene ontology enrichment (R and Perl).
  • Learned and adapted accepted RNA-seq pipeline to analyze data generated by lab members.
  • Improved and maintain quality control software tool, differential gene expression analysis tools for expression and genotyping microarray data.
  • Analyzed case/control SNP data to identify epistatic and gene-environment interactions for ovarian cancer.

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Top 10 Best States for Bioinformaticians

  1. Maryland
  2. California
  3. Connecticut
  4. North Carolina
  5. Rhode Island
  6. New Hampshire
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Delaware
  9. Texas
  10. Virginia
  • (25 jobs)
  • (146 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (77 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)

Bioinformatician Demographics

Gender

Male

52.6%

Unknown

30.3%

Female

17.1%
Ethnicity

Asian

40.5%

White

39.3%

Hispanic or Latino

8.8%

Black or African American

6.7%

Unknown

4.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Uyghur

14.3%

Chinese

14.3%

Ukrainian

14.3%

Turkish

14.3%

Japanese

14.3%

Mandarin

14.3%

Russian

14.3%
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Bioinformatician Education

Schools

Northeastern University

10.0%

Georgia State University

10.0%

University of Texas at El Paso

7.5%

Stanford University

7.5%

Indiana University Bloomington

5.0%

University of California - Davis

5.0%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

5.0%

North Carolina State University

5.0%

University of Illinois at Chicago

5.0%

Columbia University

5.0%

Cornell University

5.0%

Texas A&M University

5.0%

George Mason University

5.0%

Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

5.0%

Western Illinois University

2.5%

New York University

2.5%

University of Florida

2.5%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

2.5%

Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne

2.5%

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

2.5%
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Majors

Biostatistics

35.4%

Computer Science

12.7%

Biology

11.4%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

11.4%

Statistics

3.8%

Chemistry

3.8%

Biomedical Engineering

3.8%

Mining Engineering

2.5%

Genetics

1.3%

Information Sciences

1.3%

Pharmacy

1.3%

Animal Science

1.3%

Computer Information Systems

1.3%

Business

1.3%

Geology

1.3%

Applied Mathematics

1.3%

Computer Applications

1.3%

Environmental Science

1.3%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

1.3%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

1.3%
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Degrees

Masters

43.4%

Doctorate

34.9%

Bachelors

13.3%

Other

6.0%

Certificate

2.4%
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