Medical Scientists: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

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Job description

Medical Scientists conduct research dealing with the understanding of human diseases and the improvement of human health. Engage in clinical investigation, research and development, or other related activities. Includes physicians, dentists, public health specialists, pharmacologists, and medical pathologists who primarily conduct research.

  • Plan and direct studies to investigate human or animal disease, preventive methods, and treatments for disease.
  • Conduct research to develop methodologies, instrumentation, and procedures for medical application, analyzing data and presenting findings to the scientific audience and general public.
  • Study animal and human health and physiological processes.
  • Follow strict safety procedures when handling toxic materials to avoid contamination.
Read more about what does a Medical Scientist really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$96420 per year

Average hourly wage
$46 per hour

Medical Scientists with little to no experience tend to make between $46810 and $59580 while the more experienced ones can earn over $118040 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
NJ $70 $145,300
CT $65 $134,710
NH $56 $116,200
RI $55 $115,170
DE $55 $115,070

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as a Medical Scientist is to move to a higher paying state like NJ. Right now, the highest paying states for Medical Scientists are NJ, CT, NH, RI and DE.

However, a higher pay at NJ doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at NJ might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as a Medical Scientist is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
Doctoral degree

We asked other Medical Scientists what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a Post-Doctoral Training followed by a PhD.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Biomedical Sciences, General
Molecular Biology
Cell/Cellular Biology and Histology
Read more about how to become a Medical Scientist and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being a Medical Scientist.

Suitable for people who likes to solve problems mentally
Suitable for people who values achievements and are results-oriented
This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.
Very high salary (top 25% highest paid careers)
Not suitable for people who likes to start and carry out projects
It is very hard to get into this career. Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience is required for this career.
Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week)

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

73% of Medical Scientists said they were satisfied with their job and 83% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Working experience from LIron Abuhatzira Source: Quora

I have been working as a research scientist (a molecular biologist) for the past 12 years and the one thing I like the most about it is that I can create something new every single day. I have the freedom to think and question available theories and dogmas and the capacity to test my ideas and revise them based on new evidence.

I also like being able to wear many hats. Some days I read scientific papers, on some days I write them myself. Some days are devoted full time for designing experiments at the bench or performing them and some days are devoted to making sense of my data or coming up with new hypotheses.

Like everything else, being a scientist has its cons but for me the pros outweigh them.

Working experience from Israel Ramirez Source: Quora

Science jobs are diverse. Some scientists spend much of their time in the lab or field whereas others work in offices.

Most of my science career was as a bench scientist. My field was the biopsychology of food and fluid intake. I sometimes had an assistant but always did much of the lab work myself. I conducted experiments involving laboratory rats and mice. Many of the tasks were repetitive and a bit dull like weighing the animals and what they ate. Other tasks like administering drugs, surgery, and chemical assays started out as interesting until they became repetitive and dull. Even something as cool as extracting hypothalamic estradiol receptors got dull after a while.

I had to care for animal health. Sick animals produce bad data and nobody wants that. Some of the treatments I used, like diabetes, made my animals sick.

I performed statistical analyses. In the old days that involved paper spreadsheets. When computers started becoming less costly, I wrote my own code to collect and analyze data. I taught myself several computer languages. I also became proficient with designing and building electrical devices that interfaced with computers. On occasion, I spent a Sunday afternoon fixing a computerized device that had chosen to break down at that time. I got to be good at using a Swiss army knife to adjust homemade operational amplifier circuits.

I also prepared specialized diets for my lab animals. Mixed dusty powders containing all the nutrients an animal needs.

My lab coats were often dirty even though they were washed frequently.

Most scientists spend a lot of time writing. I wrote reports for publication in journals or books, corresponding with the editors and referees, and wrote too many grant applications begging for money from NIH or NSF. I also attended meetings where I both learned what others did and presented my own work. Occasionally, my presentations were well received.

From time to time, journals sent me articles to evaluate. I studied them, located typos, logical errors, and missing information and wrote reports for the journal editor.

I spent a lot of time reading. I used a publication called current contents which listed the table of contents for the latest editions of journals. I then wrote to the authors of the studies asking for copies of their journal articles. Each day, I went through the articles the authors sent me looking for ideas that would advance my own work. I also sent copies of my own articles to scientists who asked for them. If I got new ideas on research topics, it became time to go to the biomedical library to hunt up articles on the topics I hadn’t previously considered. I spent a lot of time xeroxing articles so I could study them at my leisure. If that didn’t lead me to change my research, the library work occasionally that led me to write a review paper so others could benefit from what I found.

From time to time, I advised people in the food and flavor industry about developments in the field and how that might affect the marketplace.

I worked briefly as an administrator at NIH. Didn’t spend any time in the lab. Talked with other administrators and read topics, like immunology, that I hadn’t previously studied. Sometimes attended presentations by active scientists. Spent a lot of time sitting down. I much preferred pipetting plasma samples into test tubes so I could measure free fatty acid levels.

I don’t do that anymore. The computer skills I developed led to a new career.

There is one more thing to add. It is really thrilling to have a hypothesis clearly confirmed or dis-confirmed so that now you know something you didn’t know before and the effort was worthwhile.

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Thinkers and The Builders

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally..

They also like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

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