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Become A Senior Principal Scientist

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Working As A Senior Principal Scientist

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

  • $112,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior Principal Scientist Do

A Senior Principal Scientist is focused on providing technical and scientific expertise in a specific field. They conduct quantitative and qualitative research to enhance existing products or develop new ones.

How To Become A Senior Principal 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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Senior Principal Scientist jobs

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Senior Principal Scientist Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Chinese

  • German

  • Japanese

  • Spanish

  • Korean

  • Basque

  • French

  • Russian

  • Shan

  • Italian

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Senior Principal Scientist

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Senior Principal Scientist Education

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Real Senior Principal Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Principal Scientist Pfizer Inc. Groton, CT Nov 19, 2015 $143,000 -
Senior Principal Scientist-Nutrition Standards Pepsico, Inc. Barrington, IL May 20, 2012 $141,730
Senior Principal Scientist Forest Research Institute, Inc. Jersey City, NJ Jan 14, 2012 $134,997
Senior Principal Scientist Forest Laboratories, Inc. Jersey City, NJ Jan 14, 2012 $134,997
Senior Principal Scientist Nevakar LLC Bridgewater, NJ Jun 06, 2016 $130,000
Senior Principal Scientist Nevakar LLC Bridgewater, NJ May 23, 2016 $130,000
Senior Principal Scientist Pfizer Inc. Andover, MA Mar 01, 2011 $125,600 -
Senior Principal Scientist Pfizer Inc. Groton, CT Sep 08, 2011 $125,600 -
Senior Principal Scientist Pfizer Inc. Chesterfield, MO Oct 01, 2010 $125,600 -
Senior Principal Scientist, Quantitative Sciences Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Rahway, NJ Aug 15, 2014 $122,595
SR. Principal Scientist, Fermentation & Formulatio Bayer Cropscience LP Davis, CA Sep 21, 2013 $112,840 -
Senior Principal Scientist Pfizer Inc. Piscataway, NJ Mar 24, 2016 $112,000
Senior Principal Scientist Innopharma Inc. Piscataway, NJ Oct 25, 2014 $112,000
Senior Principal Scientist Pfizer Inc. Piscataway, NJ Jun 24, 2016 $111,300 -
Senior Principal Scientist Pfizer Inc. Piscataway, NJ Dec 17, 2014 $111,300 -
Senior Principal Scientist SCHRÖDinger, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2012 $110,000
Senior Principal Scientist Pfizer Inc. Cambridge, MA Nov 29, 2013 $109,100 -

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Top Skills for A Senior Principal Scientist


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Top Senior Principal Scientist Skills

  1. Lab
  2. Drug Discovery
  3. Regulatory Submissions
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Planned, managed, and collaborated six external primate pharmacology studies.
  • Impacted compound selection flow/criteria throughout the drug discovery process.
  • Have written IND/NDA sections for regulatory submissions.
  • Evaluated library proposals submitted by companywide medicinal chemists for their novelty, drug-likeness, and synthetic feasibility.
  • Invented and developed new products and manufacturing processes.

Top Senior Principal Scientist Employers

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