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Working As A Postdoctoral Associate

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

  • $51,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Postdoctoral Associate 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 Postdoctoral Associate

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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Postdoctoral Associate Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Doctoral Student 3.5 years
Staff Scientist 3.5 years
PHD Researcher 2.9 years
Doctoral Fellow 2.9 years
Postdoc Fellow 2.6 years
Postdoc 2.6 years
Research Fellow 2.4 years
Research Scholar 1.7 years
Researcher 1.5 years
Top Careers Before Postdoctoral Associate
Internship 4.4%
Researcher 2.6%
Lecturer 2.1%
Scientist 1.9%
Instructor 1.8%
Top Careers After Postdoctoral Associate
Scientist 7.7%
Instructor 3.6%
Consultant 2.3%
Director 1.6%
Internship 1.5%

Do you work as a Postdoctoral Associate?

Average Yearly Salary
$51,000
Show Salaries
$42,000
Min 10%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$62,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Applied Materials
Highest Paying City
West Haven, CT
Highest Paying State
Nevada
Avg Experience Level
2.5 years
How much does a Postdoctoral Associate make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Postdoctoral Associate in the United States is $51,273 per year or $25 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $42,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $62,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Postdoctoral Associate Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Postdoctoral Associate Verily Life Science LLC Oct 09, 2016 $124,000
Postdoctoral Associate Verily Life Science LLC Sep 10, 2016 $124,000
Adjunct Clinical Post Doctoral Associate University of Florida Jan 07, 2016 $102,760
Postdoctoral Associate The Rockefeller University Oct 01, 2015 $90,000
Postdoctoral Associate Weill Cornell Medical College Jun 15, 2016 $90,000
Postdoctoral Associate Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Oct 09, 2016 $85,000
Postdoctoral Associate In Polymer Simulation and Modeling Ut-Battelle, LLC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Jan 21, 2016 $80,715
Post-Doctoral Associate University of Maryland College Park Jan 11, 2016 $80,000
Post Doctoral Associate University of Florida Aug 16, 2016 $80,000
Postdoctoral Associate Cornell University Feb 24, 2015 $51,925
Postdoctoral Associate Cornell University Sep 03, 2015 $51,925
Postdoctoral Associate University of Louisville Nov 01, 2015 $51,882
Postdoctoral Associate University of Pittsburgh Jan 10, 2016 $51,834
Postdoctoral Associate Weill Cornell Medical College Apr 16, 2015 $51,818
Postdoctoral Associate In Neuroscience Weill Cornell Medical College Feb 17, 2015 $51,818
Postdoctoral Associate Duke University and Medical Center Jul 04, 2015 $51,706
Post-Doctoral Associate University of Maryland College Park May 01, 2016 $51,667
Postdoctoral Associate Yale University Jul 06, 2015 $47,216
Postdoctoral Associate Yale University Jun 07, 2015 $47,216
Post Doctoral Associate University of Florida Jun 08, 2015 $47,200
Post Doctoral Associate University of Florida Aug 06, 2015 $47,200
Postdoctoral Associate Trustees of Boston University Apr 17, 2015 $47,200
Postdoctoral Associate Trustees of Boston University Jan 25, 2015 $47,163
Postdoctoral Associate Carnegie Mellon University Oct 16, 2015 $47,150

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Top Skills for A Postdoctoral Associate

  1. Cell Culture
  2. Protein
  3. Biology
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed a primary neuronal cell culture assay.
  • Collaborated with structural biologists to optimize protein expression and purification conditions ofFadA5 which allowed for the determination of its structure.
  • Trained undergraduate students and technicians on skills in molecular biology, biochemistry and behavioral tests.
  • Investigated new methods of synthesis of compounds containing transition metal to carbon double bonds for polymeric systems
  • Participated in collaborative research projects with industry and academia partners for biophysical characterization of various drug candidates.

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Top 10 Best States for Postdoctoral Associates

  1. New Jersey
  2. Alaska
  3. Connecticut
  4. Washington
  5. Arizona
  6. Maine
  7. Rhode Island
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. California
  10. Montana
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  • (20 jobs)
  • (45 jobs)
  • (296 jobs)
  • (160 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (294 jobs)
  • (923 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)

Postdoctoral Associate Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 2,554 Postdoctoral Associate resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Postdoctoral Associate Resume

View Resume Examples

Postdoctoral Associate Demographics

Gender

Male

46.9%

Female

26.9%

Unknown

26.1%
Ethnicity

Asian

40.8%

White

38.1%

Hispanic or Latino

9.4%

Black or African American

6.9%

Unknown

4.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Chinese

20.4%

Spanish

17.6%

French

12.7%

Mandarin

9.2%

German

7.7%

Russian

6.3%

Japanese

5.6%

Italian

3.5%

Hindi

2.1%

Carrier

2.1%

Swedish

1.4%

Korean

1.4%

Bulgarian

1.4%

Malay

1.4%

Armenian

1.4%

Cantonese

1.4%

Portuguese

1.4%

Hebrew

1.4%

Turkish

0.7%

Marathi

0.7%
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Postdoctoral Associate Education

Schools

University of Florida

15.9%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

6.6%

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

5.8%

Yale University

5.8%

University of Pittsburgh -

5.5%

Iowa State University

5.2%

Purdue University

5.2%

Cornell University

5.2%

State University of New York Buffalo

4.9%

University of Connecticut

4.6%

Pennsylvania State University

4.0%

Texas A&M University

4.0%

University of Iowa

4.0%

State University of New York Stony Brook

3.7%

Duke University

3.7%

University of Miami

3.5%

Western Michigan University

3.2%

Northeastern University

3.2%

University of California - Irvine

3.2%

Ohio State University

2.9%
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Majors

Chemistry

23.8%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

15.4%

Microbiology

5.8%

Physics

5.4%

Biology

4.0%

Chemical Engineering

4.0%

Physiology And Anatomy

3.8%

Pharmacy

3.8%

Neuroscience

3.8%

Electrical Engineering

3.7%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

3.5%

Mechanical Engineering

3.5%

Biomedical Engineering

3.4%

Genetics

3.1%

Pharmacology

3.1%

Materials Science And Engineering

2.3%

Biomedical Sciences

2.2%

Computer Science

1.9%

Medicine

1.8%

Botany

1.6%
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Degrees

Doctorate

89.8%

Masters

5.9%

Bachelors

2.5%

Certificate

1.2%

Associate

0.5%

Diploma

0.1%
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Updated May 18, 2020