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Become A Post Doctoral Researcher

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Working As A Post Doctoral Researcher

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

  • $55,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Post Doctoral Researcher 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 Post Doctoral Researcher

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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Average Length of Employment
PHD Researcher 3.8 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Doctoral Student 3.6 years
Doctoral Fellow 3.0 years
Research Fellow 2.3 years
Researcher 1.5 years
Top Careers Before Post Doctoral Researcher
Internship 6.8%
Researcher 2.9%
Instructor 2.1%
Lecturer 2.0%
Scientist 1.9%
Top Careers After Post Doctoral Researcher
Scientist 7.8%
Consultant 4.3%
Instructor 3.9%
Lecturer 2.5%
Fellow 2.1%
Researcher 2.0%

Do you work as a Post Doctoral Researcher?

Post Doctoral Researcher Demographics

Gender

Male

53.9%

Female

31.8%

Unknown

14.3%
Ethnicity

White

41.2%

Asian

33.9%

Hispanic or Latino

10.8%

Black or African American

7.8%

Unknown

6.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

19.3%

French

12.5%

Chinese

11.5%

German

10.4%

Japanese

5.7%

Korean

4.7%

Russian

4.7%

Mandarin

4.2%

Italian

3.6%

Portuguese

3.6%

Arabic

3.1%

Hindi

2.6%

Hebrew

2.6%

Turkish

2.1%

Carrier

2.1%

Persian

2.1%

Dutch

1.6%

Polish

1.6%

Danish

1.0%

Vietnamese

1.0%
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Post Doctoral Researcher Education

Schools

Ohio State University

9.4%

Texas A&M University

8.9%

University of Florida

6.5%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

6.5%

Purdue University

6.5%

Iowa State University

5.5%

Pennsylvania State University

4.7%

North Carolina State University

4.5%

University of Texas at Austin

4.5%

University of California - Davis

4.5%

University of California - Irvine

4.2%

University of California - San Diego

3.9%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

3.9%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.9%

Cornell University

3.9%

University of Illinois University Administration

3.9%

University of California - Berkeley

3.7%

Michigan State University

3.7%

University of Washington

3.7%

Carnegie Mellon University

3.7%
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Majors

Chemistry

22.6%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

11.2%

Physics

8.5%

Chemical Engineering

7.5%

Biology

5.8%

Mechanical Engineering

5.5%

Microbiology

5.2%

Electrical Engineering

4.6%

Materials Science And Engineering

3.4%

Materials Sciences

3.0%

Pharmacy

2.7%

Pharmacology

2.5%

Biomedical Engineering

2.4%

Computer Engineering

2.4%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

2.3%

Genetics

2.2%

Computer Science

2.1%

Civil Engineering

2.0%

Psychology

2.0%

Neuroscience

2.0%
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Degrees

Doctorate

80.8%

Masters

9.3%

Other

4.8%

Bachelors

4.0%

Certificate

0.8%

Associate

0.3%

Diploma

0.1%
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Real Post Doctoral Researcher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Post DOC Researcher Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Sep 16, 2016 $139,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher-AMD Research Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Sep 17, 2016 $114,358 -
$125,800
Post Doctoral Researcher IBM Corporation Yorktown Heights, NY Jul 06, 2016 $98,100 -
$270,100
Post-Doctoral Researcher Rowan University PA Jan 09, 2016 $84,528
Post-Doctoral Researcher Rowan University PA Jan 12, 2016 $84,528
Post-Doctoral Researcher-AMD Research Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Austin, TX Dec 09, 2016 $80,200 -
$130,400
Post Doctoral Researcher Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC Livermore, CA Mar 14, 2016 $78,125 -
$94,560
Post Doctoral Researcher Dow Agrosciences, LLC Indianapolis, IN Aug 25, 2015 $75,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher Caris Science, Inc. Phoenix, AZ Aug 16, 2016 $75,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher Boston College MA Sep 01, 2015 $70,000
Post Doctor Researcher AAT Bioquest, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Apr 15, 2016 $68,000 -
$80,000
Post Doctor Researcher AAT Bioquest, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Mar 09, 2016 $68,000 -
$80,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher University of Dayton Dayton, OH May 01, 2015 $67,327
Post Doctoral Researcher The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Jan 10, 2016 $50,001
Post Doctoral Research Scholar North Carolina State University Asheville, NC Jan 05, 2015 $50,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher Drexel University Philadelphia, PA Mar 28, 2016 $50,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher Clemson University Clemson, SC Dec 10, 2016 $50,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher Hudson-Alpha Institute for Biotechnology Huntsville, AL Jan 08, 2016 $50,000
Post Doctoral Researcher Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA Apr 01, 2015 $50,000
Post Doctoral Research Scholar North Carolina State University Asheville, NC May 01, 2015 $50,000
Post Doctoral Researcher The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Oct 17, 2016 $45,142
Post Doctoral Researcher Corrosion and Multiphase Technology Ohio University Athens, OH Jan 07, 2016 $45,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI Aug 25, 2015 $45,000
Post Doctoral Researcher The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Jan 11, 2016 $45,000
Post Doctoral Researcher The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Mar 09, 2016 $45,000
Post-Doctoral Researcher University of Massachusetts Lowell Lowell, MA Sep 01, 2015 $45,000
Post-Doctoral Research Scholar North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC Jan 03, 2016 $45,000

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Post Doctoral Researcher

Average Yearly Salary
$55,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$32,000
Min 10%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Median 50%
$95,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Microsoft
Highest Paying City
Fairbanks, AK
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.4 years
How much does a Post Doctoral Researcher make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Post Doctoral Researcher in the United States is $55,205 per year or $27 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $32,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $95,000.

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Top Skills for A Post Doctoral Researcher

  1. Research Projects
  2. Cell Culture
  3. Protein
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Apply dynamic leadership talents toward guiding and mentoring graduate/undergraduate students throughout all phases of research projects.
  • Engineered tissue culture capability, and oversaw incubators for cell culture work.
  • Utilized biochemical and microscopy techniques to identify proteins important in brain tumor metastasis
  • Performed research activities in areas of cell biology, molecular biology, and biochemistry while investigating calcium regulation mechanisms in cells.
  • Supervised and trained undergraduate students on the synthesis of boron cage compounds and modern organic chemistry techniques.

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Top 10 Best States for Post Doctoral Researchers

  1. California
  2. Arizona
  3. Connecticut
  4. Washington
  5. Delaware
  6. New Jersey
  7. Rhode Island
  8. Nevada
  9. Pennsylvania
  10. Maryland
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  • (219 jobs)
  • (115 jobs)
  • (544 jobs)
  • (26 jobs)
  • (509 jobs)
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  • (445 jobs)
  • (292 jobs)

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Jobs From Top Post Doctoral Researcher Employers

Post Doctoral Researcher Videos

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