A research scientist is a professional who gathers information by performing both theoretical and experimental research in a specific scientific field. A research scientist can work in many different areas, such as medicine, natural science, computer science, and social science.

Research scientists collect data, interpret the results of experiments, and form hypotheses in an attempt to answer questions about the natural world or the man-made world, depending on their field. They can be found working in government agencies, as well as private companies.

Some research scientists also work at universities where they not only conduct experiments but also teach the student population about a particular branch of science. No matter who they work for, research scientists spend many of their working hours in laboratories, and other related facilities, to perform experiments and further study their field of science.

Common skills of a research scientist include strong analytical and research skills, critical thinking, and organizational and communications skills. They also usually have a number of hard skills, involving specific kinds of computer software, and devices used for experiments and data collection.

To become a research scientist, you must obtain at least a bachelor's degree in a specific field of science, such as biology, chemistry, or computer science. Many research scientists also have master's degrees in their specialized area of science, and those that teach tend to have PhDs in their field.

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 10.7% of research scientists included python, while 6.5% of resumes included data analysis, and 6.1% of resumes included patients. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

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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.

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Research Scientist Job Description

Research scientists are professionals who continuously seek ways to innovate and improve products and services through research. They conduct experiments and benchmarking, create comparative studies and analyses, and facilitate interviews with consumers and industry leaders to expand knowledge.

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Research Scientist Career Paths

Average Salary for a Research Scientist

Research Scientists in America make an average salary of $89,998 per year or $43 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $137,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $58,000 per year.
Average Research Scientist Salary
$89,998 Yearly
$43.27 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Research Scientist

The role of a research scientist includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general research scientist responsibilities:

  • Primary responsibility for oversight and execution of methods development
  • Conducts computational biology analyses around genome editing including, but not limited to, quantitative association for work on target selection, rational edit design
  • Develop cutting edge underwriting and portfolio management tools for fluvial

There are several types of research scientist, 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 Research Scientist Jobs

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

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Research Scientist Jobs By State

Research Scientist Education

Research Scientist Majors

25.7 %
16.2 %

Research Scientist Degrees


51.7 %


25.3 %


19.7 %

Top Colleges for Research Scientists

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 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, 10.7% of research scientists listed python on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and observation skills are important as well.

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 diversity

Research Scientist Gender Distribution


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 50.7% of all research scientists.

  • The most common foreign language among research scientists is Spanish at 21.7%.

Online Courses For Research Scientist That You May Like

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1. Understanding Research Methods


This MOOC is about demystifying research and research methods. It will outline the fundamentals of doing research, aimed primarily, but not exclusively, at the postgraduate level. It places the student experience at the centre of our endeavours by engaging learners in a range of robust and challenging discussions and exercises befitting SOAS, University of London's status as a research-intensive university and its rich research heritage. The course will appeal to those of you who require an...

2. Qualitative Research Methods


In this course you will be introduced to the basic ideas behind the qualitative research in social science. You will learn about data collection, description, analysis and interpretation in qualitative research. Qualitative research often involves an iterative process. We will focus on the ingredients required for this process: data collection and analysis. You won't learn how to use qualitative methods by just watching video's, so we put much stress on collecting data through observation and...

3. Research Methodology: Complete Research Project Blueprint


Research Methodology From A-Z. A Step-by-Step Guide Through Research Design, Data Collection, Analysis, & Interpretation...

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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, Indiana, and Connecticut. Research scientists make the most in California with an average salary of $117,928. Whereas in Hawaii and Indiana, they would average $102,340 and $98,309, respectively. While research scientists would only make an average of $94,575 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:
Location Quotient:

2. New Jersey

Total Research Scientist Jobs: 1,496
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Connecticut

Total Research Scientist Jobs: 538
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Research Scientists

How Do Research Scientists Rate Their Jobs?


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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 Meta was the best, especially with an average salary of $171,477. Massachusetts Institute of Technology follows up with an average salary of $74,745, and then comes Amazon with an average of $147,702. 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 KBR, McKesson, and Sony Electronics

Most Common Employers For Research Scientist

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
6Bristol-Myers Squibb$101,974$49.03279
7Eli Lilly and Company$99,298$47.74373
8Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory$98,518$47.36223
9Univ. Of Texas Cancer Ctr.$94,478$45.42272
10Stanford University$85,960$41.33420

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.

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.

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.

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.

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