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Become A Research And Development Scientist

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Working As A Research And Development Scientist

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

  • $85,489

    Average Salary

What Does A Research And Development Scientist 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 Research And Development Scientist

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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Do you work as a Research And Development Scientist?

Research And Development Scientist Jobs

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Research And Development Scientist Career Paths

Research And Development Scientist
Product Manager Sales And Marketing Vice President Executive Vice President
Chief Science Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Analyst Research Scientist Senior Scientist
Chief Scientific Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Microbiologist Laboratory Manager Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Study Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Product Development Scientist Senior Scientist Laboratory Director
Director Of Laboratory Operations
15 Yearsyrs
Project Manager General Manager Regional Manager
Group Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Principal Scientist Program Manager Business Developer
Head Of Business Development
8 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Quality Systems Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Principal Scientist Research And Development Manager Quality Assurance Director
Regulatory Affairs Director
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Quality Assurance Lead Quality Assurance Manager
Regulatory Affairs Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager
Research And Development Director
12 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Construction Manager Quality Control Manager
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Software Engineer Business Analyst Senior Analyst
Research Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior, Research And Development Principal Scientist Research And Development Manager
Senior Manager Of Research And Development
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Project Manager Product Manager
Senior Manager, Product Development
10 Yearsyrs
Product Manager Research And Development Technician Scientist
Senior Scientist, Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Group Leader Instructor Research Scientist
Study Director
7 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Manager Research And Development Director
Vice President Of Research And Development
13 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Analyst Scientist Research Director
Vice President Research
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Research And Development Scientist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Scientist 4.9 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Scientist 3.4 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 7.4%
Scientist 7.1%
Chemist 4.9%
Fellow 3.9%
Consultant 2.2%
Top Employers After
Scientist 9.2%
Consultant 6.4%
Manager 4.4%
Internship 3.4%
Chemist 2.7%
Supervisor 2.6%

Do you work as a Research And Development Scientist?

Research And Development Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

58.3%

Female

34.4%

Unknown

7.4%
Ethnicity

White

50.4%

Asian

21.8%

Hispanic or Latino

12.6%

Black or African American

9.1%

Unknown

6.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

29.1%

French

12.7%

Chinese

10.8%

Mandarin

8.9%

German

5.7%

Hindi

5.1%

Arabic

5.1%

Russian

4.4%

Cantonese

3.8%

Carrier

2.5%

Gujarati

1.9%

Italian

1.9%

Portuguese

1.9%

Marathi

1.3%

Japanese

1.3%

Polish

1.3%

Sami

0.6%

Turkish

0.6%

Somali

0.6%

Dutch

0.6%
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Research And Development Scientist Education

Schools

Northeastern University

8.6%

Purdue University

6.6%

Drexel University

6.3%

Brigham Young University

6.0%

Johns Hopkins University

6.0%

Michigan State University

5.6%

University of Southern California

5.3%

Pennsylvania State University

5.0%

University of Phoenix

5.0%

University of Connecticut

4.6%

University of Florida

4.6%

University of California - Los Angeles

4.3%

Ohio State University

4.3%

University of California - San Diego

4.3%

Temple University

4.0%

University of Texas at Austin

4.0%

Montclair State University

4.0%

Iowa State University

4.0%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.0%

University of Houston

3.6%
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Majors

Chemistry

23.6%

Biology

10.4%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

9.3%

Business

7.0%

Pharmacy

6.7%

Chemical Engineering

5.0%

Food Science

4.8%

Computer Science

4.7%

Mechanical Engineering

4.5%

Electrical Engineering

4.3%

Microbiology

2.8%

Biotechnology

2.6%

Biomedical Engineering

2.4%

Physics

2.4%

Materials Science And Engineering

1.9%

Computer Engineering

1.9%

Management

1.7%

Materials Sciences

1.4%

Marketing

1.4%

Information Technology

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

32.7%

Masters

26.8%

Doctorate

22.2%

Other

10.4%

Associate

3.7%

Certificate

3.7%

Diploma

0.4%

License

0.0%
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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Research And Development Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Research & Development (Biotechnology) Nygard, Inc. New York, NY Sep 09, 2015 $180,000
Director, R&D Technology/Food Scientist Continental Mills Inc. Tukwila, WA Mar 09, 2015 $140,000 -
$165,000
Research Scientist Early Stage Development Hospira, Inc. Lake Forest, IL Mar 27, 2015 $134,000 -
$163,000
R&D Research and Innovation Scientist Neutraderm, Inc. CA Jun 24, 2016 $126,402
R&D Scientist Engineer (LWR Fuel Expert) Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC Idaho Falls, ID Jul 29, 2016 $125,000
Research & Development Scientist ABH Nature's Product Farmingdale, NY Apr 01, 2015 $120,000
Research & Development (Biotechnology) Nygard, Inc. New York, NY Sep 09, 2015 $120,000
Research and Development Scientist and Engineer The Board of Trustees of The Leland Stanford, Jr. University Stanford, CA Jun 27, 2016 $117,500
Research and Development Scientist Hexion, Inc. Stafford, TX Dec 20, 2015 $112,262
Research Scientist-Molecular Biology and Cell Line Development Eli Lilly and Company Indianapolis, IN Jul 09, 2016 $112,001
Scientist II, Research and Development Xerox Business Services, LLC Webster, NY Nov 05, 2016 $108,000
Scientist II, Research and Development Xerox Business Services, LLC Webster, NY May 11, 2016 $108,000
R&D Scientist Wyatt Technology Corporation Goleta, CA Jul 09, 2016 $89,814
Research Scientist, Crystal R&D Sunedison Semiconductor, LLC Saint Peters, MO Sep 16, 2016 $89,609
Scientist I-Nuclease R&D Bluebird Bio, Inc. Cambridge, MA Sep 23, 2015 $89,523 -
$100,000
R&D Scientist The Dow Chemical Company Midland, MI Jan 09, 2016 $88,152 -
$132,235
R&D Scientist Anderson Development Company Adrian, MI Jul 11, 2016 $88,010
Research and Development Scientist Utopiacompression Corporation Los Angeles, CA Sep 16, 2015 $88,000
Research and Development Scientist Fiber-Line Management, Inc. Hatfield, PA Dec 14, 2015 $88,000
R&D Scientist-Upstream Innovation The J.M. Smucker Company CA Dec 09, 2016 $85,000
Scientist-Analytical R & D Riconpharma LLC Denville, NJ Jun 20, 2016 $76,500
Scientist IV-Research and Development The Coca-Cola Company Atlanta, GA Oct 17, 2016 $76,300 -
$120,900
Research Scientist II, Analytical Development IGI Laboratories, Inc. Buena, NJ Sep 21, 2015 $75,192
R&D Scientist II General Mills, Inc. Minneapolis, MN Sep 02, 2015 $75,109 -
$85,000
Research and Development Food Scientist General Mills, Inc. Minneapolis, MN Aug 03, 2015 $75,109 -
$85,000
Research & Development Scientist Granules Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Chantilly, VA Apr 02, 2016 $75,000
R & D Delivery Scientist II Glanbia Nutritionals, Inc. Twin Falls, ID Apr 09, 2016 $75,000
Research and Development Scientist & Engineer 1 The Board of Trustees of The Leland Stanford, Jr. University Stanford, CA Feb 11, 2015 $75,000

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Top Skills for A Research And Development Scientist

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  1. Methods
  2. New Product Development
  3. R
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Implemented methods for yield curve construction and PCA analysis, investment research, stress testing, and portfolio management.
  • Scheduled and attended sales calls for customers focusing on new product development and culinary formulations.
  • Maximized fermentation process for ethanol fermentation using rice and demonstrated economic viability.
  • Coordinated all union trades for testing and laboratory equipment fabrication for the entire electronics laboratory.
  • Conducted formulation work in the laboratory relating to new product development and product enhancements.

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Top 10 Best States for Research And Development Scientists

  1. Arizona
  2. North Carolina
  3. Connecticut
  4. Delaware
  5. Maryland
  6. Minnesota
  7. Virginia
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Nevada
  • (344 jobs)
  • (562 jobs)
  • (185 jobs)
  • (46 jobs)
  • (492 jobs)
  • (243 jobs)
  • (531 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (1,721 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)

Top Research And Development Scientist Employers

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Jobs From Top Research And Development Scientist Employers

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