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Become A Scientist

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Working As A Scientist

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

  • $78,291

    Average Salary

What Does A Scientist Do

A Scientist is a person who has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences. Their specializations may include computer scientist, research scientist, political scientist, environmental scientist, and medical scientist.

How To Become A Scientist

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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Scientist jobs

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Scientist Career Paths

Research Scientist Assistant Professor Program Director
Chief Operating Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Professor Research Associate Clinical Research Associate
Clinical Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Data Analyst Data Manager Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Study Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Specialist Licensed Practical Nurse Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Trial Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Associate Director Adjunct Faculty Clinical Manager
Director Of Clinical Operations
13 Yearsyrs
Quality Assurance Quality Assurance Supervisor Laboratory Manager
Director Of Laboratory Services
11 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Scientist Senior Scientist Senior Manager
Director Of Quality
14 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Consultant Senior Software Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Group Leader Production Supervisor Production Manager
Manufacturing Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Group Leader Operations Manager Business Analyst
Quality Assurance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Leader Service Manager Construction Manager
Quality Control Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Senior Software Engineer Engineering Manager
Quality Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Project Leader Quality Assurance Lead Quality Assurance Manager
Quality Systems Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Scientist Research And Development Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Regulatory Affairs Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Project Manager Product Manager
Research And Development Technician
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Project Engineer Product Developer
Senior Manager, Product Development
10 Yearsyrs
Associate Professor Professor Research Associate
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist
9 Yearsyrs
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Scientist Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • Chinese

  • French

  • German

  • Mandarin

  • Russian

  • Hindi

  • Japanese

  • Italian

  • Cantonese

  • Portuguese

  • Arabic

  • Ukrainian

  • Korean

  • Carrier

  • Xiang

  • Swedish

  • Vietnamese

  • Dakota

  • Polish

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Scientist Education


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Real Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Observatory Scientist TMT Observatory Corporation Pasadena, CA Jul 15, 2015 $240,000
MTS 2, Applied Scientist EBAY Inc. San Jose, CA Jun 08, 2015 $200,000
Scientist Microsoft Corporation Mountain View, CA Jun 30, 2015 $177,600
Market Scientist Vatic Operations LLC New York, NY Jan 27, 2016 $175,000
Market Scientist Vatic Operations LLC San Francisco, CA Sep 15, 2015 $175,000
Speech Scientist JIBO, Inc. Redwood City, CA Sep 14, 2015 $170,000
Decision Scientist Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Jul 11, 2016 $170,000
Earth Scientist Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Aug 03, 2015 $159,806
Applied Scientist Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Aug 20, 2016 $156,600
Applied Scientist Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA May 23, 2016 $156,600 -
Machine Learning Scientist Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jun 30, 2016 $155,000
Applied Scientist Microsoft Corporation Sunnyvale, CA Mar 27, 2015 $154,936
Scientist 4 Los Alamos National Security, LLC Los Alamos, NM Jun 06, 2016 $154,000 -
Visiting Scientist Food and Drug Administration, HHS Silver Spring, MD Apr 26, 2015 $99,905
Visiting Scientist Food and Drug Administration, HHS Silver Spring, MD Aug 15, 2015 $99,905
Visiting Scientist Food and Drug Administration, HHS Silver Spring, MD Jun 03, 2016 $99,905
Visiting Scientist Food and Drug Administration, HHS Silver Spring, MD Mar 20, 2016 $99,905
General Health Scientist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/DHHS San Juan, PR Oct 07, 2016 $99,785
Scientist II Bayer Cropscience LP Morrisville, NC Aug 31, 2016 $99,738
Scientist Amgen Inc. Cambridge, MA Dec 19, 2016 $99,692
Scientist Amgen Inc. West Greenwich, RI Aug 30, 2015 $99,692
Scientist 2 Battelle Memorial Institute Richland, WA Jan 02, 2016 $82,755
Scientist 2 Battelle Memorial Institute Richland, WA Feb 01, 2016 $82,755
Outcomes Scientist Pharmerit North America LLC Bethesda, MD Sep 09, 2015 $82,722
Scientist Brain Corporation San Diego, CA Apr 13, 2015 $82,638 -
Modeling Scientist Novelis Inc. Kennesaw, GA Aug 15, 2016 $82,500
Reference Standards Scientist U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention Rockville, MD Jul 20, 2015 $82,500
Scientist Lanzatech Skokie, IL Aug 21, 2016 $82,410

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Top Skills for A Scientist


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Top Scientist Skills

  1. Laboratory Equipment
  2. Analytical Methods
  3. Method Development
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed equipment troubleshooting as required to ensure laboratory equipment performed within optimal tests parameters.
  • Optimize analytical methods to reduce the time for analysis and evaluate cost-reduction initiatives to gain efficiency in the Laboratory.
  • Assisted with method development, method validation and sample analysis to support nonclinical and clinical trials.
  • Performed cell culture process development and process optimization for recombinant monoclonal and oligoclonal antibody production in pilot plant.
  • Trained fellow associates and students on safe manipulation of cultures in the laboratory.

Top Scientist Employers