What is a Principal Scientist

Principal scientists are responsible for planning and performing experiments and investigations. They mostly operate from laboratories and are expected to maintain a high degree of scientific prowess.

Principal scientists perform experiments in areas such as medical research, geoscience, biological research, chemistry research, or pharmacology. The ultimate objective for a principal scientist is to provide new information or to explain reasons for various phenomena.

Principal scientists work closely with professionals in their field of work. They can work in universities, government laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, research organizations, chemical companies, or environmental agencies.

Successful principal scientists must have excellent communication skills, research and report-writing skills, analytical skills, and the relevant technical skills. They should also have in-depth knowledge of the legal and regulatory laws in their area of work.

Principal scientists mostly work in a laboratory setting. They work 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Occasionally, they may be required to work late hours and over the weekends when they are handling urgent projects.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a principal scientist. For example, did you know that they make an average of $60.12 an hour? That's $125,059 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 8% and produce 10,600 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Principal Scientist Do

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a principal scientist, we found that a lot of resumes listed 11.7% of principal scientists included phd, while 9.2% of resumes included r, and 5.5% of resumes included oncology. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

Learn more about what a Principal Scientist does

How To Become a Principal Scientist

If you're interested in becoming a principal scientist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 50.7% of principal scientists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 14.2% of principal scientists have master's degrees. Even though most principal scientists have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a principal scientist. When we researched the most common majors for a principal scientist, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or doctoral degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on principal scientist resumes include master's degree degrees or associate degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a principal scientist. In fact, many principal scientist jobs require experience in a role such as senior scientist. Meanwhile, many principal scientists also have previous career experience in roles such as scientist or research fellow.

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Average Salary
$125,059
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
8%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
64,954
Job Openings
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Principal Scientist Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Principal Scientist

Principal Scientists in America make an average salary of $125,059 per year or $60 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $160,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $97,000 per year.
Average Salary
$125,059
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Principal Scientist Demographics

Principal Scientist Gender Statistics

male

65.4 %

female

20.5 %

unknown

14.1 %

Principal Scientist Ethnicity Statistics

White

54.4 %

Asian

28.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

8.2 %

Principal Scientist Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Russian

20.3 %

Chinese

17.4 %

Spanish

7.2 %
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Principal Scientist Education

Principal Scientist Majors

35.3 %
11.9 %

Principal Scientist Degrees

Bachelors

50.7 %

Doctorate

32.7 %

Masters

14.2 %

Top Colleges for Principal Scientists

1. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

2. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

3. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

6. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

8. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

9. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567

10. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840
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Online Courses For Principal Scientist That You May Like

Drug Discovery & Medicinal Chemistry
edX (Global)

Drug discovery is a challenging field, but the pathway most drugs navigate from concept to market is predictable and based upon repeated experimentation. The process requires scientists with expertise in chemistry, biology, and medicine. This course focuses on four aspects of drug development. regulation - approval protocols for government regulatory agencies pharmacodynamics - how a drug affects the body pharmacokinetics - how a drug flows through the body lead discovery/optimization - the...

Drug Development Product Management
coursera

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are spending years and millions of dollars developing drugs or promising new biologics, all with the hopes of saving or enhancing patients' lives. This specialization will provide you with a 30,000 feet view of the entire process of drug discovery and development. In the first course you will begin with learning how scientists go from selecting a drug discovery target to filing an Initial New Drug application. In the second course you will learn the intricacy...

Drug Development
coursera

The University of California San Diego, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Drug Development course brings you lectures from both faculty and industry experts. With this course, recorded on campus at UCSD, we seek to share our access to top people in the field who bring an unprecedented range of expertise on drug development. In this course you will learn the different stages of clinical development as well as the regulatory including but not limited to, an Investigational New...

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Top Skills For a Principal Scientist

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, 11.7% of principal scientists listed phd on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and observation skills are important as well.

12 Principal Scientist RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For a Principal Scientist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a principal scientist. The best states for people in this position are Nevada, Alaska, Maine, and New Jersey. Principal scientists make the most in Nevada with an average salary of $146,958. Whereas in Alaska and Maine, they would average $142,468 and $140,553, respectively. While principal scientists would only make an average of $137,384 in New Jersey, 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. Nevada

Total Principal Scientist Jobs:
250
Highest 10% Earn:
$217,000
Location Quotient:
1.01
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Connecticut

Total Principal Scientist Jobs:
470
Highest 10% Earn:
$203,000
Location Quotient:
1.2
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Jersey

Total Principal Scientist Jobs:
1,005
Highest 10% Earn:
$206,000
Location Quotient:
1.07
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Principal Scientists

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Updated August 18, 2021