What is a Research Scientist

Research scientists gather information and generate knowledge through both theoretical and experimental means. They contribute to knowledge in the fields of natural science, medical science, computer science, environmental science, and social science.

These scientists develop hypotheses, collect data, and interpret results to answer questions in both the natural world and the man made world. Research scientists are involved in planning, designing, and conducting experiments to investigate and analyse scientific phenomena and then extrapolating data to develop theories which aim to explain these phenomena.

Research scientists are commonly responsible for keeping up to date by reading specialist literature, writing scientific articles for publication, writing research grant proposals and applications for funding, and managing a research team. Many research scientists also teach undergraduate and postgraduate classes and supervise graduate student research.

Becoming a research scientist requires a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in their field of study depending on the role they want to fulfill and experience it needs. They typically earn $78,060 a year, which breaks down to $37.53 an hour. The career growth for this job is projected at 8%, creating 10,600 new jobs by 2028.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a Research Scientist. For example, did you know that they make an average of $40.44 an hour? That's $84,125 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 Research Scientist Do

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a Research Scientist, we found that a lot of resumes listed 11.0% of Research Scientists included PHD, while 9.6% of resumes included Python, and 7.2% of resumes included Procedures. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

Learn more about what a Research Scientist does

How To Become a Research Scientist

If you're interested in becoming a Research Scientist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 51.7% of Research Scientists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 19.7% of Research Scientists have master's degrees. Even though most Research 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 Research Scientist. When we researched the most common majors for a Research Scientist, we found that they most commonly earn Bachelor's Degree degrees or Doctoral Degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on Research Scientist resumes include Master's Degree degrees or Associate Degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a Research Scientist. In fact, many Research Scientist jobs require experience in a role such as Research Assistant. Meanwhile, many Research Scientists also have previous career experience in roles such as Research Associate or Research Fellow.

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And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Meta Jobs (1,354)
  2. Google Jobs (400)
  3. Intel Jobs (555)
  4. KLA Jobs (169)
  5. Amazon Jobs (683)
Average Salary
$84,125
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
8%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
101,173
Job Openings
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Research Scientist Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Research Scientist

Research Scientists in America make an average salary of $84,125 per year or $40 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $133,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $52,000 per year.
Average Salary
$84,125
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12 Research Scientist Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Research Scientist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Research Scientist resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Research Scientist Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Meta Jobs (1,354)
  2. Google Jobs (400)
  3. Intel Jobs (555)
  4. KLA Jobs (169)
  5. Amazon Jobs (683)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Research Scientist Resume templates

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

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Research Scientist Resume
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Research Scientist Demographics

Research Scientist Gender Distribution

Male
Male
63%
Female
Female
38%

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

  • Among Research Scientists, 37.5% of them are women, while 62.5% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among Research Scientists is White, which makes up 53.9% of all Research Scientists.

  • The most common foreign language among Research Scientists is Spanish at 21.7%.

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Research Scientist Education

Research Scientist Majors

25.7 %
16.2 %

Research Scientist Degrees

Bachelors

51.7 %

Doctorate

25.3 %

Masters

19.7 %

Top Colleges for Research 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 Research Scientist That You May Like

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Top Skills For a Research 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, 11.0% of Research Scientists listed PHD on their resume, but soft skills such as Communication skills and Observation skills are important as well.

Best States For a Research Scientist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Research Scientist. The best states for people in this position are California, Hawaii, Maine, and Connecticut. Research Scientists make the most in California with an average salary of $115,520. Whereas in Hawaii and Maine, they would average $104,025 and $100,403, respectively. While Research Scientists would only make an average of $96,854 in Connecticut, 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. California

Total Research Scientist Jobs:
6,711
Highest 10% Earn:
$181,000
Location Quotient:
1.53
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 Research Scientist Jobs:
538
Highest 10% Earn:
$144,000
Location Quotient:
1.08
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 Research Scientist Jobs:
1,496
Highest 10% Earn:
$139,000
Location Quotient:
1.25
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 Research Scientists

How Do Research Scientist Rate Their Jobs?

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3.0

I have 2 years of clinical experience. That is what I enjoy about researchMay 2019

3.0

Zippia Official LogoI have 2 years of clinical experience. That is what I enjoy about researchMay 2019

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Top Research Scientist Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ Research Scientists and discovered their number of Research Scientist opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Facebook was the best, especially with an average salary of $168,277. Massachusetts Institute of Technology follows up with an average salary of $73,236, and then comes Amazon with an average of $121,257. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a Research Scientist. The employers include Twitter, Facebook, and Lockheed Martin

Most Common Employers For Research Scientist

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Research Scientist SalaryAverage Salary
1$168,277
2$161,785
3$135,778
4$126,750
5$121,257
6$116,403

Research Scientist Videos

Becoming a Research Scientist FAQs

Do you need a Ph.D. to be a research scientist?

No, you do not need a Ph.D. to be a research scientist. However, it is highly recommended to possess, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree in a closely related field for most positions as a research scientist. Usually, a master's degree or a Ph.D. is preferred.

Depending on what you want to research will determine your major. For example, if you're going to research medicine, chemistry, or biology, a degree in biochemistry, biology, pharmacology, or pre-med can work well. If you are interested in being a computer research scientist or information research scientist, then a degree in information technology is appropriate. If you are unsure, a general degree in clinical research is a good option.

How To Become A Research Scientist:

  • Obtain a bachelor's degree.

  • Complete a master's degree.

  • Gain research experience.

  • Complete relevant certifications:

    • The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP)

    • Certified Clinical Research Associate

    • Certified Principal Investigator

    • ACRP Certified Professional designations

You could also consider a doctorate, which takes around eight to ten years to complete but provides you with comprehensive research experience. With that said, there are high-paying bachelor's degree jobs in research science, including chemistry ($79,300 a year), geography ($85,430 a year), and microbiology ($84,040 a year).

How long does it take to become a research scientist?

It takes about six to ten years to become a research scientist. Most research scientists have a Ph.D., which takes about four to five years to complete on top of your bachelor's degree, which takes four years to complete.

Some research scientists pursue a master's degree and then gain work experience through internships or entry-level research positions. After about three to five years to advance into a research scientist role.

Master's degrees may be sufficient for many positions with private companies or government agencies. Still, both universities and any research leadership positions are likely to require candidates to hold a Ph.D.

However, a science-based bachelor's degree is not worthless depending on the field of study. An atmospheric scientist, for example, earns a median salary of $99,740 a year and this position only requires a bachelor's degree.

What degree do you need to become a researcher?

The degree you need to become a researcher is a doctorate in the field you'd like to research. In some cases, a researcher can have just a master's degree and several years of work experience, depending on the industry.

The first step in becoming a researcher is to obtain a bachelor's degree. If you are unsure, a general degree in clinical research can be a good option. If you want to research medicine, chemistry, or biology, a degree in biochemistry, biology, pharmacology, or pre-med can work well. If you are interested in being a computer and information research scientist, then a degree in information technology is appropriate.

After that, you'll want to apply to either a Master's or Doctorate graduate program. To get into graduate school, you'll want to have a high GPA and good GRE scores. Ph.D. programs are typically harder to get into, but doctorate programs, unlike master's, usually provide students with a stipend that covers some of the cost of tuition.

In total, it will take about ten years to become a researcher. This amount of time includes a four-year bachelor's degree, three to five years in graduate school, and several years of research experience. Researchers can gain research experience by working in research labs within your university or through internships.

What does a research scientist do daily?

What a research scientist does daily are laboratory-based experiments and trials. You can find research scientists in various fields, including medicine, political science, biology, chemistry, computer science, and environmental science.

The day-to-day duties of a research scientist vary depending on the project they're working on and the company. Some of the work involves:

  • Planning and conducting research experiments to analyze specific data and interpret results

  • Writing grant proposals and complete applications for funding to ensure that you have the funds needed to carry out the project.

  • Collaborating with team members and support staff

  • Presenting results to senior staff or other research teams

  • Supervising junior staff members or graduate student research

  • Recording and analyzing data

  • Carrying out fieldwork, e.g., collecting samples

  • Presenting results to senior/other research staff

  • Writing research papers, reports, reviews, and summaries

  • Demonstrating procedures

  • Preparing research proposals and funding applications/bids

  • Supervising junior staff, including technicians

  • Organizing product/materials testing

  • Liaising with research and production staff

  • Developing original solutions to problems

  • Keeping up to date with relevant scientific and technical developments

  • Teaching

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