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Some people just do not want to stop pursuing learning. They finish college degrees, take on graduate degrees, and even complete postgraduate degrees. They keep working on the next degree, mostly because they enjoy learning and they want to unlock the secrets of the universe. But what happens when one finally obtains a postgraduate degree yet still wants to pursue learning? Well, they can apply to be Postdoctoral Scholars in institutions.

Postdoctoral scholars continue their pursuit of knowledge in research institutions, laboratories, and universities. They are hired to conduct research related to their field of specialization. They are awarded training or research grants and access to the institution's facilities. Often, postdoctoral scholars are hired for a particular amount of time only, usually depending on the expected length of their research.

In order to be a postdoctoral scholar, you should be able to have the patience and the passion for keeping learning. You need to have a doctorate degree, and you must have an interest in advancing the knowledge in your field.

What Does a Postdoctoral Scholar Do

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a postdoctoral scholar, we found that a lot of resumes listed 10.0% of postdoctoral scholars included chemistry, while 8.0% of resumes included python, and 6.5% of resumes included patients. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

Learn more about what a Postdoctoral Scholar does

How To Become a Postdoctoral Scholar

If you're interested in becoming a postdoctoral scholar, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 50.1% of postdoctoral scholars have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 20.6% of postdoctoral scholars have master's degrees. Even though most postdoctoral scholars have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Postdoctoral Scholar

Career Path For a Postdoctoral Scholar

As you move along in your career, you may start taking on more responsibilities or notice that you've taken on a leadership role. Using our career map, a postdoctoral scholar can determine their career goals through the career progression. For example, they could start out with a role such as research fellow, progress to a title such as research scientist and then eventually end up with the title senior scientist.

Postdoctoral Scholar

Average Salary for a Postdoctoral Scholar

Postdoctoral Scholars in America make an average salary of $57,587 per year or $28 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $79,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $41,000 per year.
Average Postdoctoral Scholar Salary
$57,587 Yearly
$27.69 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Postdoctoral Scholar

There are several types of postdoctoral scholar, including:



A researcher is someone who studies how to apply the scientific method within their chosen field.

Their primary responsibilities can be performing systemic investigations, overseeing internal research, or serving as the lead author on reports or articles. They are often tasked with things like collecting data (either quantitative or qualitative) and using that data to solve problems.

They can work in academic settings or in areas like the industrial, government, or private sectors. They need to have exceptional attention to detail and be both accurate and specific in their findings. They also need to ensure that their research is complete and thorough.

It is also important for a researcher to have a curious mind and to question why things are the way they are. Soft skills that can be important for a researcher include communication, leadership, and moderation. They must be able to lead project teams, moderate discussions, and communicate their knowledge clearly and persuasively.

To become a researcher, you will typically need to have a Ph.D. or similar degree. Researchers can work in a wide array of areas including sociology, medicine, and psychology. There are also researchers who work in the sciences like biology, chemistry, and physics.
  • Average Salary: $67,145
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Graduate Research Student


A graduate research student is someone who is conducting research while working towards a master's degree or doctorate. They can specialize in a variety of subjects, from medicine to Victorian literature. Graduate research students often work with the assistance of tenured professors to design and conduct their research studies. They use the research tools at their disposal, from library archives to laboratory equipment to SAS statistical software, to conduct research that they will use in their dissertation. Depending on their university, graduate research students may also need to help their supervisors with their own research or teach and supervise undergraduate students.

By definition, a graduate research student needs to be enrolled in a graduate degree program. They have to complete a bachelor's degree (and sometimes relevant internships) before pursuing additional education.

The stipend graduate research students receive depends on their institution or department. However, their average salary is $32,119 a year.
  • Average Salary: $34,658
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Research Fellow


As the name implies, as a Research Fellow, you will be conducting research and analysis of comprehensive results, literature, and data. You will be supervising research assistants and recruiting study participants for specific studies.

For the educational requirement, a Research Fellow needs to have a doctorate relevant to the discipline and should have published papers that are peer-reviewed. As a Research Fellow, you can be supervised or independent.

The top skills Research Fellow applicants include in their resumes include Molecular Biology, Data Analysis, Cell Culture, Research Projects, and Ph.D. You might want to brush up your knowledge on these things and make sure you are knowledgeable in the field you will be applying to.

You can earn an average annual salary of $49,120 with a job growth rate of 8%. You can also explore other careers like being a Research Scientist, a Scientist, and a Senior Scientist.

  • Average Salary: $53,823
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

States With The Most Postdoctoral Scholar Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active postdoctoral scholar jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where postdoctoral scholars earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Postdoctoral Scholar Jobs By State

Postdoctoral Scholar Education

Postdoctoral Scholar Majors

13.7 %
10.8 %
8.4 %

Postdoctoral Scholar Degrees


50.1 %


24.0 %


20.6 %

Top Colleges for Postdoctoral Scholars

1. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition




2. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




3. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition




5. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




6. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition




8. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition




9. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition




10. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN • Private

In-State Tuition




Top Skills For a Postdoctoral Scholar

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 10.0% of postdoctoral scholars listed chemistry on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and observation skills are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Postdoctoral Scholar Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Postdoctoral Scholar templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Postdoctoral Scholar resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Postdoctoral Scholar diversity

Postdoctoral Scholar Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among postdoctoral scholars, 47.0% of them are women, while 53.0% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among postdoctoral scholars is White, which makes up 53.2% of all postdoctoral scholars.

  • The most common foreign language among postdoctoral scholars is Spanish at 30.5%.

Online Courses For Postdoctoral Scholar That You May Like

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3. Data Science: Data Mining & Natural Language Processing in R


Harness the Power of Machine Learning in R for Data/Text Mining, & Natural Language Processing with Practical Examples...

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Best States For a Postdoctoral Scholar

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a postdoctoral scholar. The best states for people in this position are California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Postdoctoral scholars make the most in California with an average salary of $69,770. Whereas in Hawaii and New Jersey, they would average $69,426 and $68,319, respectively. While postdoctoral scholars would only make an average of $66,688 in Rhode Island, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New Jersey

Total Postdoctoral Scholar Jobs: 873
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. California

Total Postdoctoral Scholar Jobs: 2,949
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Maine

Total Postdoctoral Scholar Jobs: 71
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Postdoctoral Scholars

How Do Postdoctoral Scholars Rate Their Jobs?

Working as a Postdoctoral Scholar? Share your experience anonymously.
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Top Postdoctoral Scholar Employers

Most Common Employers For Postdoctoral Scholar

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Sandia National Labs$72,612$34.91326
2Stanford University$66,334$31.89317
3Arizona State University$63,283$30.4279
4UC Merced$62,701$30.1489
5UChicago Argonne$61,858$29.74587
6UC Santa Barbara$61,548$29.59493
7The University of Chicago$61,140$29.39981
8University of California$60,862$29.262,432
9California Institute of Technology$60,448$29.06214
10University of California-Berkeley$58,798$28.272,561

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