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Become A Nuclear Scientist

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Working As A Nuclear Scientist

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

  • $82,240

    Average Salary

Example Of What A Nuclear Scientist does

  • Represented NRDC's nuclear program in response various media requests.

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How To Become A Nuclear 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.


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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3,784 Nuclear Scientist jobs

Boca Raton, FL

$60,000 Estimated

Arizona Public Service
Tonopah, AZ
Nuclear Auxiliary Operator Trainee

$45,760 Estimated

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, NM
Nuclear / High-Energy Physicist (Scientist 2 / 3)

$111,580 Estimated

University of Rochester
Rochester, NY

$85,000 Estimated

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command
Washington, DC

$78,291 Estimated

Planet Pharma
Bridgewater, NJ
Pharmacovigilance Scientist

$65,291 Estimated

Planet Pharma
South San Francisco, CA
Pharmacometrics Scientist

$110,000 Estimated

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Richland, WA
Chief Nuclear Materials Scientist

$80,008 Estimated

Food and Drug Administration
Silver Spring, MD
Interdisciplinary Scientist

$94,969 Estimated

University of Rochester
Rochester, NY
Experimental Scientist

$85,000 Estimated

Planet Pharma
Pleasanton, CA
BSM Scientist I

$80,558 Estimated

Lancaster Laboratories
Indianapolis, IN

$68,955 Estimated

Parkesburg, PA
Applied Performance Scientist

$65,000 Estimated

University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA

$73,360 Estimated

Kelly Services
Cambridge, MA

$85,200 Estimated

Danaher Corporation
Orange, CA

$90,000 Estimated

Northwestern University
Chicago, IL
Department of Neurology Basic Scientist

$70,000 Estimated

Lancaster Laboratories
Lancaster, PA

$68,709 Estimated

Cook Medical
West Lafayette, IN
Regulatory Scientist

$64,022 Estimated

Millenniumsoft Inc.
San Diego, CA
Scientist 1

$84,000 Estimated

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