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Become A Staff Scientist

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Working As A Staff Scientist

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

  • $87,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Staff 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 Staff 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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Staff Scientist Career Paths

Staff Scientist
Senior Scientist Director Vice President
Vice President Product Development
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager
Research And Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Laboratory Manager Quality Control Manager
Quality Control Director
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Supervisor Quality Assurance Manager
Regulatory Affairs Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Research Associate Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Manager Of Operations
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Research Associate Laboratory Manager Quality Control Manager
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Engineering Director Research And Development Director
Vice President Of Research And Development
13 Yearsyrs
Project Manager General Manager President
Chief Science Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Assistant Professor Scientist
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant Professor Scientist Research And Development Manager
Senior Manager Of Research And Development
12 Yearsyrs
Assistant Professor Scientist Laboratory Supervisor
Clinical Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Environmental Specialist Environmental Scientist
Senior Scientist, Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Analyst Research Manager
Clinical Research Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Research Associate Research Manager Clinical Research Manager
Clinical Trial Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Manager Senior Operations Manager Head Operator
Head Of Business Development
7 Yearsyrs
Project Leader Manager Applications Development Data Manager
Clinical Study Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Education Consultant Research Consultant
Clinical Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Engineering Director Vice President Of Research And Development
Chief Scientific Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Research Fellow Research Manager Senior Research Manager
Study Director
7 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Senior Scientist 4.9 years
Staff Scientist 4.0 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Lead Scientist 3.7 years
Scientist 3.4 years
Project Scientist 3.3 years
Junior Scientist 2.3 years
Top Careers Before Staff Scientist
Scientist 6.6%
Internship 5.5%
Fellow 2.3%
Chemist 2.1%
Researcher 1.8%
Top Careers After Staff Scientist
Scientist 9.1%
Consultant 8.0%
Manager 3.2%
Director 3.0%
Instructor 2.1%

Do you work as a Staff Scientist?

Staff Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

57.3%

Female

28.6%

Unknown

14.2%
Ethnicity

White

52.8%

Asian

21.9%

Hispanic or Latino

11.6%

Black or African American

9.4%

Unknown

4.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

27.8%

Chinese

15.1%

French

11.9%

German

11.1%

Japanese

7.9%

Russian

5.6%

Mandarin

4.0%

Italian

4.0%

Korean

2.4%

Carrier

2.4%

Swedish

0.8%

Sami

0.8%

Basque

0.8%

Vietnamese

0.8%

Romanian

0.8%

Hindi

0.8%

Bulgarian

0.8%

Welsh

0.8%

Cantonese

0.8%

Greek

0.8%
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Staff Scientist Education

Schools

Pennsylvania State University

10.6%

Purdue University

5.5%

University of California - Berkeley

5.3%

North Carolina State University

5.3%

University of California - Los Angeles

5.3%

University of Delaware

5.3%

Texas A&M University

5.1%

University of Maryland - College Park

5.1%

University of California - San Diego

5.1%

Johns Hopkins University

5.1%

University of Pittsburgh -

5.1%

University of Washington

4.6%

Harvard University

4.4%

University of California - Davis

4.4%

Northeastern University

4.4%

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

4.1%

Drexel University

4.1%

University of South Florida

3.9%

University of Florida

3.7%

University of California - Santa Barbara

3.7%
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Majors

Chemistry

19.8%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

13.0%

Environmental Science

10.8%

Biology

10.2%

Geology

6.6%

Microbiology

5.3%

Physics

5.1%

Business

3.2%

Pharmacy

2.8%

Electrical Engineering

2.7%

Chemical Engineering

2.6%

Pharmacology

2.4%

Genetics

2.4%

Computer Science

2.3%

Physiology And Anatomy

2.2%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

2.0%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

1.8%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.8%

Materials Science And Engineering

1.6%

Biotechnology

1.5%
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Degrees

Doctorate

39.9%

Bachelors

27.1%

Masters

23.0%

Other

7.5%

Certificate

1.4%

Associate

1.0%

Diploma

0.1%

License

0.0%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$87,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$58,000
Min 10%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$131,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Carl Zeiss Meditec
Highest Paying City
Mountain View, CA
Highest Paying State
California
Avg Experience Level
3.5 years
How much does a Staff Scientist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Staff Scientist in the United States is $87,768 per year or $42 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $58,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $131,000.

Real Staff Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Staff Scientist Linkedin Corporation Mountain View, CA May 28, 2016 $165,006 -
$237,000
Geological Staff Scientist Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Apr 01, 2016 $162,000
Instructor/Staff Scientist I Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA Aug 01, 2015 $150,000
Physicist Staff Scientist/Engineer Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Jan 02, 2015 $140,400
Staff Scientist SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Menlo Park, CA Feb 02, 2015 $140,000
Staff Scientist Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Tarrytown, NY Jan 10, 2016 $137,857
Physicist Staff Scientist Engineer Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Jan 10, 2016 $137,508
Staff Scientist Sas Institute Inc. San Diego, CA Nov 07, 2016 $135,000 -
$152,000
Staff Scientist Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Tarrytown, NY Apr 15, 2016 $131,596
Staff Scientist National Institutes of Health, HHS Phoenix, AZ May 15, 2016 $130,000
Staff Scientist Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Tarrytown, NY Aug 13, 2015 $129,000
Staff Scientist National Institutes of Health, HHS Bethesda, MD Jan 02, 2016 $127,000
Staff Scientist Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Tarrytown, NY Mar 09, 2016 $126,998
Staff Scientist National Institutes of Health, HHS Bethesda, MD Feb 26, 2015 $90,822
Staff Scientist National Institutes of Health, HHS Hamilton, MT May 29, 2016 $90,000
Staff Scientist Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Seattle, WA Sep 15, 2015 $90,000
Staff Scientist The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology Philadelphia, PA Aug 29, 2016 $90,000
Core Staff Scientist H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute Tampa, FL Apr 06, 2015 $90,000
Staff Scientist, Biology Takeda California, Inc. San Diego, CA Aug 25, 2015 $90,000 -
$111,000
Instructor/Staff Scientist Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA Jan 07, 2016 $67,500
Staff Scientist The Henry M. Jackson Foundation Bethesda, MD Dec 28, 2015 $66,000
Staff Scientist The Salk Institute for Biological Studies San Diego, CA Nov 20, 2016 $66,000
Staff Scientist Lasergen, Inc. Houston, TX Jul 18, 2015 $66,000
Staff Scientist Washington University In St. Louis Saint Louis, MO Jul 28, 2016 $65,000
Staff Scientist The University of Chicago Chicago, IL Jan 07, 2016 $65,000
Metabolomics Staff Scientist Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Saint Louis, MO Jan 18, 2016 $65,000
Staff Scientist I Medical University of South Carolina Charleston, SC Sep 22, 2016 $65,000

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Top Skills for A Staff Scientist

  1. Cell Culture
  2. Analytical Methods
  3. Safety Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed highly complex laboratory tasks, managed cell culture facility, ensured laboratory safety.
  • Developed and validated analytical methods, prepared method development worksheets, validation reports and method summaries.
  • Revised site-specific Health and Safety Plans.
  • Collected soil and groundwater samples for laboratory analysis.
  • Determined protein stability and performed protein-protein interaction studies in human and mouse samples.

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Top 10 Best States for Staff Scientists

  1. Montana
  2. Connecticut
  3. Maryland
  4. Delaware
  5. North Carolina
  6. Washington
  7. New York
  8. California
  9. Nevada
  10. Massachusetts
  • (57 jobs)
  • (159 jobs)
  • (433 jobs)
  • (30 jobs)
  • (514 jobs)
  • (770 jobs)
  • (865 jobs)
  • (3,467 jobs)
  • (44 jobs)
  • (1,640 jobs)

Top Staff Scientist Employers

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