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Become A Research Staff Member

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Working As A Research Staff Member

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

  • $83,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Research Staff Member 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 Staff Member

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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Research Staff Member Career Paths

Research Staff Member
Consultant Project Manager
Senior Project Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Consultant Manager Project Manager
Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Manager Vice President
Founder And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Research Scientist
Senior Scientist
9 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Research Scientist Senior Scientist
Principal Scientist
12 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Project Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Research Fellow Scientist
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Research Fellow Senior Scientist Director
Chief Technology Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Research Fellow Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager
Research And Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Member, Technical Staff Senior Software Engineer
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Member, Technical Staff Senior Software Engineer Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Member, Technical Staff Senior Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Scientist Senior Laboratory Technician
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Scientist Project Leader Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Research Associate Director Senior Director
Senior Director Of Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Senior Research Associate Senior Analyst Senior Data Analyst-
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Engineer Research And Development Engineer Research Scientist
Lead Scientist
7 Yearsyrs
Doctoral Fellow Clinical Research Coordinator
Senior Research Coordinator
5 Yearsyrs
Doctoral Fellow Staff Scientist
Senior Associate Scientist
7 Yearsyrs
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Research Staff Member Demographics

Gender

Male

56.0%

Female

25.6%

Unknown

18.4%
Ethnicity

White

50.9%

Asian

20.9%

Hispanic or Latino

12.5%

Black or African American

10.2%

Unknown

5.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

31.3%

Russian

15.6%

German

9.4%

French

9.4%

Italian

9.4%

Irish

3.1%

Czech

3.1%

Chinese

3.1%

Ukrainian

3.1%

Samoan

3.1%

Japanese

3.1%

Greek

3.1%

Bengali

3.1%
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Research Staff Member Education

Schools

University of California - Los Angeles

7.7%

University of Southern California

7.7%

Columbia University

7.7%

University of California - San Diego

6.8%

University of Washington

6.8%

Stanford University

6.0%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

5.1%

University of Maryland - College Park

5.1%

New York University

4.3%

Ohio State University

4.3%

University of California - Berkeley

4.3%

George Washington University

4.3%

Purdue University

4.3%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4.3%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

4.3%

Brown University

3.4%

Texas A&M University

3.4%

Indiana University Bloomington

3.4%

Carnegie Mellon University

3.4%

University of California - Irvine

3.4%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

14.9%

Computer Science

13.4%

Physics

11.2%

Computer Engineering

8.2%

Mechanical Engineering

7.8%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

5.6%

Chemistry

5.2%

Business

4.5%

Biology

3.3%

Psychology

3.0%

Experimental Psychology

2.6%

Geology

2.6%

Neuroscience

2.6%

Marketing

2.6%

Law

2.6%

Materials Science And Engineering

2.2%

Political Science

2.2%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

1.9%

Nursing

1.9%

Management

1.9%
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Degrees

Doctorate

41.2%

Masters

26.7%

Bachelors

17.6%

Other

10.6%

Certificate

2.2%

Associate

1.5%

Diploma

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$83,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$45,000
Min 10%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$152,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Palo Alto Networks
Highest Paying City
Minneapolis, MN
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.5 years
How much does a Research Staff Member make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Research Staff Member in the United States is $83,290 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $45,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $152,000.

Real Research Staff Member Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation Austin, TX Jul 27, 2015 $168,180
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation Yorktown Heights, NY Jul 14, 2016 $165,000
Member of Research Staff (Internal Title: Software Engineer) Palo Alto Research Center, Inc. Palo Alto, CA May 15, 2015 $165,000
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation Yorktown Heights, NY Jan 06, 2016 $157,976 -
$251,309
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation San Jose, CA Jun 22, 2016 $155,152
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation San Jose, CA Aug 25, 2016 $155,152
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation Yorktown Heights, NY May 08, 2016 $155,000
Member of Research Staff (Research Computer Scientist) Palo Alto Research Center, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Aug 29, 2016 $153,039
Member of Research Staff Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jun 23, 2016 $151,709
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation Yorktown Heights, NY Apr 01, 2016 $150,000
Member of Research Staff Typical Set, LLC Berkeley, CA Dec 12, 2016 $150,000
Member of Research Staff Typical Set, LLC Berkeley, CA Sep 13, 2016 $150,000
Member of Research Staff Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Aug 28, 2016 $130,000
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation Yorktown Heights, NY Aug 17, 2015 $129,355 -
$249,365
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation Yorktown Heights, NY Jul 15, 2015 $128,772
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation San Jose, CA Oct 31, 2016 $127,512 -
$248,004
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation Yorktown Heights, NY Aug 11, 2015 $126,422 -
$249,365
Member of Research Staff Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Aug 28, 2016 $125,060
Member of Research Staff Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jul 31, 2015 $123,190
Member of Research Staff (Research Computer Scientist) Palo Alto Research Center Inc. (Parc) Palo Alto, CA Feb 26, 2016 $123,000 -
$155,000
Research Staff Member IBM Corporation San Jose, CA Nov 16, 2015 $117,187 -
$244,170
Postdoctoral Research Staff Member Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC Livermore, CA Jan 09, 2016 $116,400
Member of Research Staff Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Aug 30, 2015 $116,220
Member of Research Staff Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Aug 30, 2015 $116,001
Member of Research Staff Fujitsu Laboratories of Amercia Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Aug 28, 2015 $115,806
Member of Research Staff (Microsystem Medical Device Scientist) Palo Alto Research Center Inc. (Parc) Palo Alto, CA Oct 26, 2015 $115,350 -
$140,000

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Top Skills for A Research Staff Member

  1. Algorithms
  2. Research Projects
  3. R
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Created image processing algorithms for novel marking technology to allow digital data to be embedded unobtrusively into ordinary documents and images.
  • Participated in research projects for the development of high energy linear proton accelerators (RFQ-injected LINACS).
  • Work closely with Product Management to help establish product requirements and design towards those requirements.
  • Contributed to software toolkit for EEG data analysis, feature extraction and classification.
  • Managed orders, equipment set up, start-up supplies (plasmid vectors, bacteria, cell cultures), and inventories.

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Top 10 Best States for Research Staff Members

  1. North Carolina
  2. New Jersey
  3. Connecticut
  4. Washington
  5. California
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. Colorado
  8. Maryland
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Rhode Island
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  • (240 jobs)
  • (98 jobs)
  • (252 jobs)
  • (1,287 jobs)
  • (358 jobs)
  • (212 jobs)
  • (169 jobs)
  • (478 jobs)
  • (31 jobs)

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