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Become A Postdoctoral Research Associate

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Working As A Postdoctoral Research Associate

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

  • $52,314

    Average Salary

What Does A Postdoctoral Research Associate Do

A Postdoctoral Research Associate is responsible for various research activities and the supervision of research personnel. They create various presentations and graphs to communicate the results to funders, the public, and other researchers.

How To Become A Postdoctoral Research 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.


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 Research Associate jobs

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Real Postdoctoral Research Associate Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Postdoctoral Research Associate The Trustees of Princeton University Princeton, NJ Jan 08, 2016 $118,000
Postdoctoral Research Associate Ut-Battelle, LLC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Oak Ridge, TN Jun 01, 2015 $115,020
Postdoctoral Research Associate (Materials Scientist) Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC Idaho Falls, ID Jan 09, 2016 $106,008
Postdoctoral Research Associate Los Alamos National Security, LLC Los Alamos, NM Sep 17, 2016 $104,000 -
Postdoctoral Research Associate Texas A&M University College Station, TX Apr 07, 2016 $103,868
Postdoctoral Research Associate Northeastern University Boston, MA Oct 09, 2015 $100,343
Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT Aug 15, 2015 $100,322
Postdoctoral Research Associate (Materials Scientist) Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC Idaho Falls, ID Jan 09, 2016 $100,008
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Metabolomics Ut-Battelle, LLC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Oak Ridge, TN Sep 14, 2015 $98,400
Postdoctoral Research Associate Los Alamos National Security, LLC Los Alamos, NM Sep 19, 2016 $92,000

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Top Skills for A Postdoctoral Research Associate


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Top Postdoctoral Research Associate Skills

  1. Cell Culture
  2. Protein Expression
  3. Total Synthesis
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Experience with aseptic technique and microbial cell culture at scale from 5mL tubes to 300L bioreactors.
  • Assessed protein expression changes in altered cell lines and tissues using immunoblot analysis and quantitative chemiluminescence.
  • Total synthesis of dibromophakellstatin and its analogues.
  • Examined fatigue crack growth behavior and texture evolution in Mg alloys using neutron diffraction techniques.
  • Designed and documented protocols for procedures and analyses conducted in the laboratory; standardized techniques and improved efficiency.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Videos

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