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Become A Chief Scientist

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Working As A Chief Scientist

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

  • $87,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Chief 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 A Chief 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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Do you work as a Chief Scientist?

Average Yearly Salary
$87,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$53,000
Min 10%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$141,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Wright State University
Highest Paying City
Fridley, MN
Highest Paying State
Vermont
Avg Experience Level
4.0 years
How much does a Chief Scientist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Chief Scientist in the United States is $87,203 per year or $42 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $53,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $141,000.

Real Chief Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Chief Scientist Essex Lake Group LLC New York, NY Nov 19, 2010 $300,000
Chief Scientist Essex Lake Group LLC Jersey City, NJ Oct 26, 2009 $300,000
Chief Scientist Essex Lake Group LLC New York, NY Oct 26, 2012 $300,000
Chief Scientist The Nature Conservancy Arlington, VA Jan 11, 2016 $300,000 -
$350,000
Chief Scientist Ut-Battelle, LLC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Oak Ridge, TN Oct 21, 2016 $239,326
Chief Scientist Epoch.com, LLC Santa Monica, CA Jan 03, 2012 $230,000
Chief Scientist Ut-Battelle, LLC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Oak Ridge, TN Nov 26, 2013 $221,492
Chief Scientist 3DSIM, LLC Jeffersonville, IN Jul 13, 2015 $200,665
Chief Scientist Kayak Software Corporation Concord, MA Nov 01, 2010 $200,000 -
$250,000
Chief Scientist Viglink, Inc. San Francisco, CA Nov 08, 2014 $196,000
Chief Scientist/Laboratory Fellow Battelle Richland, WA Nov 30, 2015 $195,000
Chief Scientist St. Jude Medical, AF Division Minnetonka, MN Dec 07, 2012 $192,000
Chief Scientist Adlast, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 21, 2013 $180,000
Chief Scientist Oxigraf, Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 18, 2013 $145,600
Chief Scientist Viridity Energy Inc. Conshohocken, PA Apr 04, 2011 $140,000
Chief Scientist Dataware Ventures, LLC Torrance, CA Feb 01, 2014 $138,000
Chief Scientist 3DSIM, LLC Jeffersonville, IN Jul 01, 2015 $130,438
Chief Scientist 3DSIM, LLC Louisville, KY Jun 15, 2014 $130,438
Chief Scientist Officer WIZR, LLC Santa Monica, CA Jan 02, 2016 $130,000
Chief Geophysicist/Scientist KJT Enterprises, Inc. Houston, TX Apr 07, 2014 $128,600
Chief Geophysicist/Scientist KJT Enterprises, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 29, 2010 $128,600
Chief Scientist Hybrid Silica Technologies, Inc. Cambridge, MA Feb 10, 2010 $102,000
Chief Scientist Aspera, Inc. Emeryville, CA Sep 22, 2011 $101,795 -
$129,709
Chief Scientist Hybrid Silica Technolgies, Inc. Cambridge, MA Feb 05, 2010 $100,200
Chief Scientist Security Innovation, Inc. Wilmington, MA Apr 06, 2010 $100,000 -
$175,000
Chief Scientist, Wireless Management GFI USA, Inc. Clearwater, FL Mar 04, 2013 $100,000
Chief Scientist, Wireless Management GFI Software (Florida) Inc. Clearwater, FL Feb 26, 2013 $100,000
Chief Scientist Instabase, Inc. Cambridge, MA Sep 17, 2015 $98,488

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Top Skills for A Chief Scientist

  1. Algorithms
  2. R
  3. Architecture
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Designed sensor hardware and developed algorithms for parametric data compensation and software filters implemented in MSP430 microprocessor.
  • Authored both external and internal technical documentation including: business plan, functional specification, architectural documents and user documentation.
  • Evaluated potential acquisitions for both technical and strategic fit while aligning architecture and execution plans across the enterprise.
  • Led strategic planning efforts for 3,000-person organization.
  • Perform data analysis, write reports, and monitor test and program plans.

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Top 10 Best States for Chief Scientists

  1. New Jersey
  2. Connecticut
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Delaware
  5. Maryland
  6. California
  7. Massachusetts
  8. North Carolina
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Virginia
  • (336 jobs)
  • (99 jobs)
  • (316 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (263 jobs)
  • (2,396 jobs)
  • (977 jobs)
  • (162 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (276 jobs)

Chief Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

75.6%

Female

13.5%

Unknown

10.9%
Ethnicity

White

55.5%

Asian

16.9%

Hispanic or Latino

13.1%

Black or African American

10.1%

Unknown

4.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

German

21.6%

French

16.2%

Chinese

10.8%

Russian

8.1%

Italian

8.1%

Romanian

5.4%

Japanese

5.4%

Korean

5.4%

Hungarian

2.7%

Spanish

2.7%

Cherokee

2.7%

Mandarin

2.7%

Hindi

2.7%

Basque

2.7%

Polish

2.7%
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Chief Scientist Education

Schools

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

9.6%

University of Arizona

8.9%

University of Southern California

8.1%

University of California - Berkeley

7.4%

Rice University

5.9%

University of South Florida

5.9%

Stanford University

5.9%

University of California - Santa Barbara

4.4%

George Mason University

4.4%

Cornell University

4.4%

University of Illinois University Administration

4.4%

University of Washington

3.7%

Johns Hopkins University

3.7%

George Washington University

3.7%

University of Pennsylvania

3.7%

University of Maryland - College Park

3.7%

Syracuse University

3.0%

University of Alabama

3.0%

Arizona State University

3.0%

Illinois Institute of Technology

3.0%
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Majors

Physics

16.2%

Electrical Engineering

13.5%

Chemistry

12.9%

Computer Science

11.4%

Mathematics

5.4%

Computer Engineering

4.2%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

3.9%

Biology

3.9%

Mechanical Engineering

3.9%

Business

3.3%

Biomedical Engineering

3.0%

Geology

3.0%

Engineering Science

2.4%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

2.4%

Materials Sciences

2.4%

Management

1.8%

Chemical Engineering

1.8%

Engineering

1.8%

Astronomy And Astrophysics

1.5%

Education

1.5%
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Degrees

Doctorate

52.8%

Masters

19.2%

Bachelors

13.0%

Other

11.3%

Certificate

1.8%

Associate

1.6%

Diploma

0.4%
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