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The job of research scientists is to design, undertake, and analyze information from experiments, trials, and laboratory-based investigations. They usually perform experiments in different areas, including medical research, pharmacology, and geoscience. They have varied duties and responsibilities that include planning and carrying out experiments, conducting fieldwork, and overseeing junior staff members like the technicians. They are typically working for a government laboratory, an environmental agency, and other organizations. Many of these scientists also work in teams and support staff.

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Research Scientist Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real research scientist resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Manage activities with CRO and other contract facilities to optimally execute nonclinical studies.
  • Evaluate and manage contract services with CRO and scientific collaborations with external research institutions.
  • Manage sample inventory via in-house laboratory information management system (LIMS) and implement additional systems for sample and chemical organization.
  • Manage molecular data and conduct molecular genotyping to determine the genetic diversity of rice to add value to rice genetic resources.
  • Used real-time PCR and DNA sequencing to troubleshoot and validate SNP base and gene expression assays.
  • Supervise junior level scientists in developing projects, and mastering concepts and techniques in molecular biology / immunology.
  • Analyze chromatin dynamics during primordial germ cell specification with a CRISPR mouse model.
  • Identify impurities in final drug by LCMS and reject impurities with ethanol/water swish.
  • Develop and implement tracking algorithms for the cardiac muscle using MRI phase velocity mapping.
  • Co-Invent and develop a device for the standardization and calibration of clinical MRI signal intensity and NMR relaxation times.
  • Perform routine microbiology testing per ISO and USP such as: bio-burden, endotoxin, sterility, cytotoxicity, etc.
  • Re-Cover and analyze various cDNA probes by RT-PCR, gel purification and PCR sub-cloning to support cardiovascular and obesity programs.
  • Conduct regulatory meetings with FDA during project development.
  • Develop next generation diagnostics base on DNA/ RNA detection and amplification.
  • Implement graph analysis algorithms in Java for network vulnerability removal and hardening.

Research Scientist Job Description

When it comes to understanding what a Research Scientist does, you may be wondering, "should I become a Research Scientist?" The data included in this section may help you decide. Compared to other jobs, Research Scientists have a growth rate described as "faster than average" at 8% between the years 2018 - 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of Research Scientist opportunities that are predicted to open up by 2028 is 10,600.

On average, the Research Scientist annual salary is $84,125 per year, which translates to $40.44 an hour. Generally speaking, Research Scientists earn anywhere from $52,000 to $133,000 a year, which means that the top-earning Research Scientists make $81,000 more than the ones at the lower end of the spectrum.

Once you've become a Research Scientist, you may be curious about what other opportunities are out there. Careers aren't one size fits all. For that reason, we discovered some other jobs that you may find appealing. Some jobs you might find interesting include a Postdoctoral Associate, Chemist, Postdoctoral Research Associate, and Senior Research Fellow.

Research Scientist Jobs You Might Like

12 Research Scientist Resume Examples

Research Scientist Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 11% of Research Scientists are proficient in PHD, Python, and Procedures.

We break down the percentage of Research Scientists that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • PHD, 11%

    Supervised an Associate Scientist and two PhD scientists, and managed a team of three scientists in a matrix environment.

  • Python, 10%

    Created open-source data analysis and visualization package in Python.

  • Procedures, 7%

    Worked independently to synthesize known compounds efficiently using literature or in-house notebook procedures; improved on procedures to produce higher yield.

  • Data Analysis, 7%

    Worked extensively with data analysis/interpretation and presentation.

  • Research Projects, 6%

    Dedicated to continued enhancement of leadership competencies, problem solving, independent evaluation of scientific data for basic research projects.

  • R, 6%

    Identified systematic errors in electronic medical record using a combination of SQL queries and R visualizations.

Some of the skills we found on Research Scientist resumes included "PHD," "Python," and "Procedures." We have detailed the most important Research Scientist responsibilities below.

  • Communication skills can be considered to be the most important personality trait for a Research Scientist to have. According to a Research Scientist resume, "Communication is critical, because medical scientists must be able to explain their conclusions" Research Scientists are able to use Communication skills in the following example we gathered from a resume: "Managed the 11BSD1 chemistry forum that facilitated discussions, communications and planning of chemistry related issues. "
  • Another trait important for fulfilling Research Scientist duties is Observation skills. According to a Research Scientist resume, "Medical scientists conduct experiments that require precise observation of samples and other health-related data." Here's an example of how Research Scientists are able to utilize Observation skills: "Record observations, analyze data and summarize the results in technical reports to be used for internal and/or external communications e.g. "
  • See the full list of Research Scientist skills.

    After discovering the most helpful skills, we moved onto what kind of education might be helpful in becoming a Research Scientist. We found that 51.7% of Research Scientists have graduated with a bachelor's degree and 19.7% of people in this position have earned their master's degrees. While most Research Scientists have a college degree, you may find it's also true that generally it's impossible to be successful in this career with only a high school degree. In fact, our research shows that one out of every ten Research Scientists were not college graduates.

    Those Research Scientists who do attend college, typically earn either Chemistry degrees or Biology degrees. Less commonly earned degrees for Research Scientists include Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology degrees or Physics degrees.

    Once you've obtained the level of education you're comfortable with, you might start applying to companies to become a Research Scientist. We've found that most Research Scientist resumes include experience from Meta, Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA, and University of Washington. Of recent, Meta had 1,064 positions open for Research Scientists. Meanwhile, there are 240 job openings at Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA and 193 at University of Washington.

    If you're interested in companies where Research Scientists make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at Lyft, StubHub, and Grubhub. We found that at Lyft, the average Research Scientist salary is $186,755. Whereas at StubHub, Research Scientists earn roughly $180,175. And at Grubhub, they make an average salary of $176,555.

    View more details on Research Scientist salaries across the United States.

    If you earned a degree from the top 100 educational institutions in the United States, you might want to take a look at Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and NIH. These three companies have hired a significant number of Research Scientists from these institutions.

    In general, Research Scientists fulfill roles in the Education and Health Care industries. While employment numbers are high in those industries, the Research Scientist annual salary is the highest in the Technology industry with $120,899 as the average salary. Meanwhile, the Professional and Manufacturing industries pay $113,963 and $95,144 respectively. This means that Research Scientists who are employed in the Technology industry make 75.1% more than Research Scientists who work in the Education Industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious research scientists are:

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    What Postdoctoral Associates Do

    A postdoctoral associate is responsible for researching to support scientific claims and theories by collecting evidence and information to answer scientific questions. Postdoctoral associates must have excellent communication skills, both oral and written, to interact with people and document investigation findings. They also utilize laboratory tools and equipment for scientific researches, conduct field investigations, and interview participants. A postdoctoral associate designs comprehensive research models to discuss results with the panel and the team efficiently and accurately.

    In this section, we compare the average Research Scientist annual salary with that of a Postdoctoral Associate. Typically, Postdoctoral Associates earn a $32,338 lower salary than Research Scientists earn annually.

    Even though Research Scientists and Postdoctoral Associates have vast differences in their careers, a few of the skills required to do both jobs are similar. For example, both careers require PHD, Python, and Data Analysis in the day-to-day roles.

    There are some key differences in responsibilities as well. For example, a Research Scientist responsibilities require skills like "Procedures," "Tensorflow," "Analytical Methods," and "Laboratory Equipment." Meanwhile a typical Postdoctoral Associate has skills in areas such as "Biomedical," "Independent Research," "Immunology," and "Heart." This difference in skills reveals how truly different these two careers really are.

    Postdoctoral Associates receive the highest salaries in the Technology industry coming in with an average yearly salary of $58,937. But Research Scientists are paid more in the Technology industry with an average salary of $120,899.

    On average, Postdoctoral Associates reach lower levels of education than Research Scientists. Postdoctoral Associates are 5.7% less likely to earn a Master's Degree and 22.0% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Chemist?

    Chemists are generally responsible for observing and investigating chemical substances to create new and safe compounds essential for practical applications. They are often grouped depending on a particular area of specialization to focus and understand the complexities of the matter. A chemist usually takes time performing research and conducting experiments to test and further improve the quality and usage of a specific chemical substance. Chemists are expected to write on their observations and findings to establish scientific results.

    The next role we're going to look at is the Chemist profession. Typically, this position earns a lower pay. In fact, they earn a $25,831 lower salary than Research Scientists per year.

    A similarity between the two careers of Research Scientists and Chemists are a few of the skills associated with both roles. We used resumes from both professions to find that both use skills like "Procedures," "Data Analysis," and "R."

    In addition to the difference in salary, there are some other key differences that are worth noting. For example, Research Scientist responsibilities are more likely to require skills like "PHD," "Python," "Research Projects," and "C++." Meanwhile, a Chemist might be skilled in areas such as "Lab Equipment," "Test Results," "Gc," and "Uv/Vis." These differences highlight just how different the day-to-day in each role looks.

    It's been discovered that Chemists earn lower salaries compared to Research Scientists, but we wanted to find out where Chemists earned the most pay. The answer? The Manufacturing industry. The average salary in the industry is $72,503. Additionally, Research Scientists earn the highest paychecks in the Technology with an average salary of $120,899.

    In general, Chemists study at lower levels of education than Research Scientists. They're 9.1% less likely to obtain a Master's Degree while being 22.0% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    What technology do you think will become more important and prevalent for Research Scientists in the next 3-5 years?

    Helen Mango Ph.D.

    Professor of Geology and Chemistry, Castleton University

    Anything with GIS.Show more

    How a Postdoctoral Research Associate Compares

    A postdoctoral research associate is responsible for assisting the educational institution's research department, writing research reports, analyzing research methods, and collecting information and related studies to support the research claims. Postdoctoral research associates must have excellent communication skills, both oral and written, reporting research updates to the research head, performing adjustments as needed, and gaining more expertise on the subject by brainstorming and discussing strategic procedures for the study. They may also conduct field investigation or coordinate with other institutions for additional reference, depending on the research's scope and limitation.

    Let's now take a look at the Postdoctoral Research Associate profession. On average, these workers make lower salaries than Research Scientists with a $32,755 difference per year.

    While looking through the resumes of several Research Scientists and Postdoctoral Research Associates we discovered that both professions have similar skills. These similarities include skills such as "PHD," "Python," and "Data Analysis," but they differ when it comes to other required skills.

    As mentioned, these two careers differ between other skills that are required for performing the work exceedingly well. For example, gathering from Research Scientists resumes, they are more likely to have skills like "Procedures," "Tensorflow," "Java," and "Analytical Methods." But a Postdoctoral Research Associate might have skills like "Post-Doctoral," "Confocal Microscopy," "Rna-Seq," and "Scientific Meetings."

    Additionally, Postdoctoral Research Associates earn a higher salary in the Professional industry compared to other industries. In this industry, they receive an average salary of $78,544. Additionally, Research Scientists earn an average salary of $120,899 in the Technology industry.

    When it comes to education, Postdoctoral Research Associates tend to earn similar education levels than Research Scientists. In fact, they're 3.8% less likely to earn a Master's Degree, and 21.7% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of a Senior Research Fellow

    Senior Research Fellows are reputable researchers employed in an academic institution or a research facility. The nature of their employment in the institution is related to their research work or field of interest. Senior Research Fellows lead a team of researchers on big projects that require more team members. They manage the team's budget, set timelines, and guide the researchers. They spearhead the analysis of the data gathered. They also set the tone for the presentation materials. Senior Research Fellows should be passionate about their field, should have a thirst for knowledge, and should be able to lead teams.

    Now, we'll look at Senior Research Fellows, who generally average a lower pay when compared to Research Scientists annual salary. In fact, the difference is about $17,315 per year.

    While their salaries may vary, Research Scientists and Senior Research Fellows both use similar skills to perform their jobs. Resumes from both professions include skills like "PHD," "Python," and "Data Analysis. "

    Each job requires different skills like "Procedures," "Tensorflow," "Laboratory Equipment," and "Experimental Design," which might show up on a Research Scientist resume. Whereas Senior Research Fellow might include skills like "Technical Assistance," "Spss," "Project Management," and "Medicaid."

    Senior Research Fellows reach higher levels of education when compared to Research Scientists. The difference is that they're 5.5% more likely to earn a Master's Degree more, and 7.8% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What a Research Scientist Does FAQs

    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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