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Become A Senior Scientist

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Working As A Senior Scientist

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

  • $98,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior 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.

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 Senior 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.

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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Senior Scientist Career Paths

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Scientist 5.0 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Lead Scientist 3.6 years
Staff Scientist 3.5 years
Scientist 3.4 years
Top Careers Before Senior Scientist
Scientist 14.0%
Fellow 8.0%
Chemist 3.2%
Internship 2.1%
Consultant 2.0%
Top Careers After Senior Scientist
Scientist 10.4%
Consultant 10.0%
Director 6.2%
Manager 4.5%
President 2.3%

Do you work as a Senior Scientist?

Senior Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

59.8%

Female

25.9%

Unknown

14.2%
Ethnicity

White

46.3%

Asian

29.3%

Hispanic or Latino

11.3%

Black or African American

8.4%

Unknown

4.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

18.9%

French

12.7%

Chinese

12.4%

German

11.1%

Russian

9.2%

Japanese

6.5%

Mandarin

4.3%

Italian

3.5%

Korean

3.2%

Hindi

2.4%

Portuguese

2.4%

Carrier

2.2%

Polish

1.9%

Arabic

1.9%

Ukrainian

1.6%

Xiang

1.6%

Swedish

1.4%

Shan

1.1%

Sami

0.8%

Dutch

0.8%
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Senior Scientist Education

Schools

Johns Hopkins University

7.1%

Stanford University

6.5%

Ohio State University

5.9%

Pennsylvania State University

5.9%

University of Florida

5.8%

Texas A&M University

5.7%

Purdue University

5.6%

University of Washington

5.0%

University of Pennsylvania

4.8%

Temple University

4.7%

University of California - Los Angeles

4.6%

University of Texas at Austin

4.6%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

4.6%

University of Arizona

4.5%

Cornell University

4.1%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

4.1%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4.1%

University of California - Davis

4.0%

University of Southern California

3.9%

Harvard University

3.9%
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Majors

Chemistry

31.3%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

13.0%

Biology

9.3%

Pharmacy

5.8%

Physics

5.6%

Microbiology

5.6%

Business

4.0%

Chemical Engineering

3.9%

Electrical Engineering

2.7%

Pharmacology

2.4%

Physiology And Anatomy

2.2%

Computer Science

2.2%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

2.1%

Genetics

1.5%

Geology

1.5%

Materials Science And Engineering

1.4%

Mechanical Engineering

1.4%

Food Science

1.4%

Materials Sciences

1.3%

Biomedical Engineering

1.2%
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Degrees

Doctorate

52.3%

Masters

22.5%

Bachelors

14.6%

Other

7.9%

Certificate

1.7%

Associate

0.6%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.0%
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Real Senior Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Safety Scientist Genentech Inc. South San Francisco, CA Oct 23, 2015 $210,000
Senior Scientist The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Philadelphia, PA Apr 01, 2016 $200,665
Senior Scientist III Universities Space Research Association Houston, TX Feb 25, 2015 $199,142
Senior Scientist Haskins Laboratories, Inc. New Haven, CT May 14, 2015 $192,776
Senior Research Scientist Nvidia Corporation Santa Clara, CA Oct 06, 2016 $190,000 -
$197,695
Scientist Senior 11 Kelly Services, Inc. Bethesda, MD Jan 25, 2016 $182,091
Scientist, Senior 11 Kelly Services, Inc. Frederick, MD Aug 17, 2015 $182,091
Senior Scientist Blippar LLC Mountain View, CA Sep 11, 2015 $180,000
Senior Scientist General Electric Company-GE Global Research Center San Ramon, CA Oct 31, 2016 $180,000
Senior Research Scientist New York University New York, NY Jan 09, 2016 $180,000
Senior Scientist Microsoft Corporation Mountain View, CA Jul 14, 2015 $177,600
Senior Research Scientist Parallel MacHines, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Aug 06, 2015 $175,000
Senior Research Scientist Guttmacher Institute, Inc. New York, NY May 16, 2015 $108,623
Senior Research Scientist Electrical Geodesics, Inc. Eugene, OR Oct 01, 2015 $108,378
Senior Research Scientist, Healthcare Research NORC Bethesda, MD Mar 23, 2016 $108,292 -
$128,292
Senior Scientist (Formulation) Vintage Pharmaceuticals LLC Huntsville, AL Feb 10, 2015 $108,150
Senior Scientist Kemin Industries, Inc. Des Moines, IA Aug 22, 2016 $108,114
Senior Scientist, Bioscience Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals LP Waltham, MA Sep 04, 2015 $108,000
SR. Research Scientist Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. Pasadena, CA Aug 26, 2015 $107,755
Senior Scientist Grammatech, Inc. Ithaca, NY Sep 08, 2015 $107,500
Senior Scientist-Thermoplastics Penn Color, Inc. Hatfield, PA Oct 01, 2015 $90,979 -
$125,000
Senior Scientist Actavis, Inc. Weston, FL Dec 03, 2015 $90,776
Senior Research Scientist I Albany Molecular Research, Inc. Albany, NY Oct 09, 2016 $90,250
SR. Scientist Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. Pleasanton, CA Jul 22, 2016 $90,100 -
$148,800
Senior Scientist Marketshare Partners LLC Los Angeles, CA Feb 01, 2015 $90,000 -
$130,000
Senior Scientist II Solvay USA Inc. Bristol, PA Sep 01, 2015 $90,000

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Senior Scientist

Average Yearly Salary
$98,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$65,000
Min 10%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$146,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Google
Highest Paying City
Petaluma, CA
Highest Paying State
Nevada
Avg Experience Level
4.9 years
How much does a Senior Scientist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Senior Scientist in the United States is $98,247 per year or $47 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $65,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $147,000.

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Top Skills for A Senior Scientist

  1. Analytical Methods
  2. R
  3. Protein
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed and transferred analytical methods internally/externally.
  • Developed and implemented HT cell based assay for insecticidal toxin optimization and receptor discovery.
  • Organized and presented breakout sessions on protein folding for a company-wide process development symposium.
  • Manage operation and capital budgets, mentor internal purchasing personnel and navigate external vendor networks to standardize procedures.
  • Contributed knowledge, experience, and ideas that facilitated medicinal chemistry team work; coordinated projects across multidisciplinary teams.

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Top 10 Best States for Senior Scientists

  1. Washington
  2. Arizona
  3. California
  4. Delaware
  5. New Jersey
  6. Minnesota
  7. Connecticut
  8. Oregon
  9. Maryland
  10. Massachusetts
  • (855 jobs)
  • (219 jobs)
  • (3,842 jobs)
  • (40 jobs)
  • (647 jobs)
  • (184 jobs)
  • (185 jobs)
  • (147 jobs)
  • (475 jobs)
  • (1,780 jobs)

Top Senior Scientist Employers

Jobs From Top Senior Scientist Employers

Senior Scientist Videos

Career Advice on becoming a Senior Scientist by Peter W (Full Version)

Non-Traditional Careers for Science Majors | Dr. Dwight Randle | TEDxMountainViewCollege

SR : Science & Technolgy - 1

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