Where do you want to work?
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 Clinical Scientist
Top Careers After Clinical Scientist
Hispanic or Latino7.8%
Black or African American0.6%
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Thomas Jefferson University9.6%
George Washington University8.4%
University of the Sciences6.0%
Saint Joseph's University4.8%
University of California - San Diego4.8%
University of Pittsburgh -4.8%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill4.8%
University of Connecticut3.6%
University of Texas Health Science Center Houston3.6%
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor3.6%
New York University3.6%
University of California - Los Angeles3.6%
Baylor College of Medicine3.6%
Fairleigh Dickinson University3.6%
University of Nevada - Reno2.4%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Principal Clinical Scientist||Coopervision, Inc.||Pleasanton, CA||Dec 31, 2015||$180,000|
|Clinical Scientist||Lumiata, Inc.||San Mateo, CA||Apr 28, 2016||$160,000|
|Clinical Scientist||Genentech, Inc.||South San Francisco, CA||Sep 03, 2013||$148,500|
|Clinical Scientist||Inventiv Health Clinical SRE, LLC||Cambridge, MA||Apr 20, 2015||$145,600|
|Clinical Scientist||Inventiv Health Clinical SRE||Summit, NJ||Nov 30, 2015||$145,600|
|Clinical Scientist Specialist||Genentech, Inc.||South San Francisco, CA||Oct 01, 2011||$133,000|
|Scientist, Clinical Pharmacology||Forest Research Institute, Inc.||Jersey City, NJ||Nov 30, 2009||$120,000|
|Clinical Scientist||Philips Electronics North America Corporation||Baltimore, MD||Feb 09, 2016||$115,000|
|Clinical Scientist||Forest Research Institute, Inc.||Jersey City, NJ||Jan 20, 2013||$113,027|
|Clinical Discovery Physician Scientist||Glaxosmithkline LLC||King of Prussia, PA||Sep 13, 2016||$111,800 -
|Pet Care Clinical Scientist||The Procter & Gamble Company||Lewisburg, OH||Sep 14, 2014||$110,000|
|Scientist-Clinical Pharmacokinetics||Allergan Sales, LLC||Irvine, CA||Sep 13, 2010||$105,567|
|Scientist-Clinical Investigations||Amway Global Services Inc.||New York, NY||Mar 28, 2016||$104,162|
|PHD Clinical Scientist||The Procter & Gamble Company||Lewisburg, OH||Sep 06, 2012||$104,000|
|Clinical Scientist||The Fountain Group LLC||Gaithersburg, MD||Jan 04, 2016||$93,915|
|Clinical Scientist||The Fountain Group LLC||Gaithersburg, MD||Apr 01, 2016||$93,915|
|Scientist I, Non-Clinical Development||Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated||Cambridge, MA||Sep 17, 2012||$93,000 -
|Associate Professor, Clinical Scientist||Saint Louis University||Saint Louis, MO||Jan 01, 2013||$91,930 -
|Clinical Scientist||Pacific Coast Reproductive Center Inc.||Torrance, CA||Oct 01, 2011||$90,000|
|Clinical Scientist||Philips Medical Systems (Cleveland), Inc.||Bethesda, MD||Sep 14, 2012||$89,273|
|Scientist-Clinical Investigations||Amway Global Services Inc.||New York, NY||Apr 01, 2013||$81,099 -
|Clinical Scientist||Cellex, Inc.||Rockville, MD||Dec 01, 2009||$80,000|
|Clinical Scientist||Philips Medical Systems (Cleveland), Inc.||Highland Heights, OH||Mar 09, 2013||$77,700 -
|Clinical Scientist||Philips Medical Systems (Cleveland), Inc.||Highland Heights, OH||Sep 03, 2013||$77,700 -
|Chief Clinical Scientist||Florida Hospital||Orlando, FL||Nov 15, 2009||$77,240|
|Clinical Operations Scientist||SK Life Science, Inc.||Fair Lawn, NJ||Jan 07, 2016||$75,000|
|Clinical Scientist||Toshiba Medical Research Institute USA, Inc.||Vernon Hills, IL||Oct 17, 2011||$71,344 -
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