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Become A Researcher

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Working As A Researcher

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

  • $76,511

    Average Salary

What Does A Researcher Do

A Researcher plans, designs, conducts, and reports on specific research projects. They use a variety of methods to collect, analyze, and organize information for preparing reports or oral presentations.

How To Become A Researcher

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.


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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Researcher jobs

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Researcher Demographic


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Chinese

  • Mandarin

  • German

  • Arabic

  • Japanese

  • Korean

  • Russian

  • Italian

  • Hindi

  • Portuguese

  • Cantonese

  • Urdu

  • Vietnamese

  • Hebrew

  • Thai

  • Greek

  • Polish

  • Swahili

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Researcher Typical Career Paths

Researcher Education


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Real Researcher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Researcher National Bureau of Economic Research Cambridge, MA Jul 01, 2015 $257,328
Researcher National Bureau of Economic Research Chicago, IL Aug 01, 2015 $246,666
Abdominal and Oncologic Imaging Researcher University Hospitals Medical Group, Inc. Cleveland, OH Mar 02, 2015 $208,700
Researcher Recruit Institute of Technology, Inc. Mountain View, CA Nov 09, 2016 $200,000
Researcher National Bureau of Economic Research Boston, MA Jun 01, 2015 $199,434
Mathematical Researcher Renaissance Technologies LLC Setauket-East Setauket, NY Mar 02, 2015 $189,807 -
Researcher Microsoft Corporation Cambridge, MA Apr 13, 2016 $181,271
Researcher Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Dec 01, 2015 $180,185
Mathematical Researcher Renaissance Technologies LLC Setauket-East Setauket, NY Oct 28, 2016 $180,000 -
Researcher Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Feb 11, 2015 $170,000 -
Researcher National Bureau of Economic Research College Station, TX Jan 08, 2016 $169,932
Researcher National Bureau of Economic Research Urbana, IL Jul 15, 2015 $169,819
Researcher Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA May 15, 2016 $167,810
Researcher Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Jul 23, 2016 $165,600
M&S Scientific Researcher Pro Unlimited, Inc. South San Francisco, CA Aug 31, 2016 $98,197
Researcher IBM Corporation New York, NY Sep 11, 2015 $98,100 -
Design Researcher Samsung Research America, Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 25, 2016 $98,000
Design Researcher Samsung Research America, Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 23, 2015 $98,000
Researcher I Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Oakland, CA Aug 16, 2015 $97,000 -
Researcher General Motors Company Warren, MI Dec 28, 2015 $97,000
Design Researcher Samsung Research America, Inc. Mountain View, CA Mar 09, 2016 $97,000
Simulation Researcher General Electric Company-GE Global Research Center Niskayuna, NY Aug 26, 2015 $96,000
Researcher California Institute of Technology/Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pasadena, CA Jan 09, 2016 $62,982
Researcher California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA Feb 25, 2015 $62,400
Researcher 5 University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN Apr 15, 2016 $62,379
Researcher 2 University of Houston System Houston, TX Jan 05, 2015 $62,279
Researcher 2 University of Houston System Houston, TX May 01, 2015 $62,279
Researcher, Americas Division Human Rights Watch Washington, DC Apr 01, 2016 $62,000

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Top Skills for A Researcher


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Top Researcher Skills

  1. Lab Equipment
  2. Techniques
  3. Undergraduate
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Operated lab equipment and analyzed data using a variety of computer programs.
  • Designed and built experimental maze and tested conditioning techniques on rats.
  • Gun Culture; selected by the Undergraduate Research Center to independently conduct research; presented findings to professors and peers.
  • Provided support to a faculty member with self-directed experimentation in an NSF funded laboratory.
  • Created laboratory standards for determining effects of foreign chemicals on cell cultures.

Top Researcher Employers

Researcher Videos

Career Advice on becoming an Oral History Project Researcher by Pete M (Highlights)

Field Researcher, Career Video from drkit.org

(1/2) A Day in the Life of an Academic Researcher