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Become A Senior Associate Scientist

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Working As A Senior Associate Scientist

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

  • $82,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior Associate Scientist Do

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings.


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 Senior Associate 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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Average Length of Employment
Senior Scientist 4.9 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Lead Scientist 3.7 years
Staff Scientist 3.5 years
Scientist 3.4 years
Top Careers Before Senior Associate Scientist
Scientist 4.8%
Chemist 3.1%
Internship 2.4%
Associate 1.3%
Top Careers After Senior Associate Scientist
Scientist 29.9%
Consultant 3.9%
Manager 2.8%
Chemist 2.4%
Director 1.3%

Do you work as a Senior Associate Scientist?

Average Yearly Salary
View Detailed Salary Report
Min 10%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Highest Paying City
Foster City, CA
Highest Paying State
Avg Experience Level
4.7 years
How much does a Senior Associate Scientist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Senior Associate Scientist in the United States is $82,762 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $55,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $122,000.

Real Senior Associate Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Associate/Scientist Abt Associates Inc. Arlington, VA Nov 19, 2012 $146,099
SR. Associate/Scientist I, Cell Line Development Biogen, Inc. Cambridge, MA Sep 22, 2016 $111,500 -
SR. Associate Scientist, Tech Development Biogen IDEC, Inc. Cambridge, MA Aug 15, 2014 $105,800
Senior Associate Scientist Amgen Inc. South San Francisco, CA Nov 01, 2014 $98,296
SR. Associate Scientist Amgen Inc. Cambridge, MA Sep 21, 2016 $95,442
Senior Associate Scientist, Pharmacology Biogen IDEC, Inc. Cambridge, MA May 12, 2011 $93,732
Senior Associate Scientist, Dmpk Biogen, Inc. Cambridge, MA Feb 07, 2016 $92,476
SR. Associate Scientist Amgen Inc. San Francisco, CA Jun 01, 2015 $92,000
SR. Associate Scientist Amgen Inc. South San Francisco, CA Nov 14, 2011 $91,000
SR. Associate Scientist Amgen Inc. South San Francisco, CA Jul 05, 2014 $90,000
Senior Associate Scientist Amgen Inc. West Greenwich, RI Aug 01, 2015 $89,198
Senior Associate Scientist Biogen IDEC, Inc. Cambridge, MA Oct 27, 2014 $88,704
Senior Associate Scientist Janssen Research & Development, LLC Spring House, PA Dec 15, 2016 $87,340
Senior Associate Scientist Amgen Inc. West Greenwich, RI Dec 05, 2011 $87,000
Senior Associate Scientist-Electrophysiologist Pfizer Inc. Cambridge, MA Jul 01, 2013 $76,939 -
Senior Associate Scientist-Electrophysiologist Pfizer Inc. Cambridge, MA Jan 07, 2013 $76,939 -
SR. Associate Scientist Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA Mar 15, 2011 $76,709
SR. Associate Scientist Zoetis, Inc. Kalamazoo, MI Oct 01, 2015 $76,426
Senior Associate Scientist Andro Computational Solutions, LLC Turin, NY Sep 05, 2014 $75,005
Senior Associate Scientist Pfizer Inc. Cambridge, MA Aug 17, 2015 $75,000
Senior Associate Scientist Pfizer Inc. Cambridge, MA Feb 26, 2015 $75,000
Senior Associate Jc60 Biological Scientists Cognizant Technology Solutions U.S. Corporation Cambridge, MA Feb 18, 2015 $67,163
Senior Associate Scientist Pfizer Inc. Andover, MA Nov 01, 2013 $67,163 -
Senior Associate Scientist Pfizer Inc. Andover, MA Dec 20, 2013 $67,163 -
Senior Associate Scientist-Biochemist Pfizer Inc. Cambridge, MA Sep 19, 2014 $67,163 -
Senior Chemist/Associate Scientist Firmenich, Inc. Plainsboro, NJ Sep 06, 2014 $67,000
SR. Associate Scientist Pfizer Inc. Cambridge, MA Mar 07, 2016 $66,248 -

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Top Skills for A Senior Associate Scientist

  1. Lab Equipment
  2. Cell Culture
  3. Assay Development
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Worked on projects to ensure business continuity by creating backup systems for reagents, cell banks and critical lab equipment.
  • Monitored field of expertise, including literature and technology development, and communicates relevant observations regarding cell culture and technology advantages.
  • Target identification and validation assay development for osteoporosis and other therapeutic areas.
  • Developed and validated analytical methods for characterization and quantitative determination of JNJ compounds and their related materials, intermediates and impurities.
  • Provided method transfer and technical support to other department laboratory and contract laboratories.


Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Senior Associate Scientists

  1. New Jersey
  2. California
  3. Delaware
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. Maryland
  6. Connecticut
  7. North Carolina
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Maine
  10. Virginia
  • (423 jobs)
  • (2,332 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (372 jobs)
  • (305 jobs)
  • (114 jobs)
  • (258 jobs)
  • (21 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (355 jobs)

Senior Associate Scientist Demographics












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Senior Associate Scientist Education


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University of Connecticut


University of Washington


University of Rhode Island


University of California - San Diego


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University of California - Berkeley


Seton Hall University


Boston University


University of New Haven


University of California - Irvine


University of California - Davis


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University of Massachusetts Amherst


New Jersey Institute of Technology


Eastern Michigan University


University of Wisconsin Extension


University of Michigan - Ann Arbor


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Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology








Animal Science


Cell Biology And Anatomical Science




Computer Science






Public Health


Biomedical Sciences




Biomedical Engineering


Chemical Engineering


Physiology And Anatomy


Project Management


Medical Technician

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