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How to Become a Research Scientist

How to Become a Research Scientist

Finding the right career choice involves considering your interests and abilities. If you are curious enough by nature and enjoy doing research, then becoming a research scientist is a great career choice.

The presented option of development and employment implies quite a considerable salary potential and an opportunity to get a job in a variety of areas to conduct a variety of research that is extremely rewarding.

This material will discuss how to become a research scientist, what it takes, and what this specialist does. In addition, we will study the question of salary and give answers to the most common questions about this position.

What does the research scientist do?

Research scientists’ main work is conducting experiments and tests in a laboratory setting. Presented specialists work in various fields: medicine, chemistry, biology, ecology, computer technology, and more. The primary responsibilities of these scientists include:

  • developing an experimental plan and putting it into practice;
  • writing reports and publishing scientific articles;
  • observing experiments, collecting, recording, and analyzing the information obtained;
  • collecting samples and other field activities;
  • management of junior laboratory personnel;
  • demonstration of experiments;
  • monitoring the latest advances in the scientific field.

Obviously, it is only a ground list. Research scientists may also be involved in other areas.

How to become a research scientist?

There are several significant steps to take to become a professional research scientist:

  1. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

    It all starts with proper education. To become a research scientist, you need to be an undergraduate and in a field relevant to your research area of interest. If you can’t make up your mind, you can settle on a general degree in clinical research. Biochemistry, pharmacology, and biology allow you to pursue future careers in biology, chemistry, and medicine. If you are more attracted to computer science, you should consider information technology.

  2. Become a Master of Science

    It doesn’t stop at the undergraduate level. The next step is getting a master’s degree. If your university does not have an appropriate program, you should take the undergraduate degree exam (GRE) to apply for a master’s degree later.

    Most often, this educational program lasts 2-3 years. The coursework required in an education course may be of varying difficulty, depending on the degree you want to pursue. In any case, it must relate to the field you have chosen. At the same time, there are common themes for all areas:

    1. teaching;
    2. getting grants and writing research papers;
    3. mathematics courses;
    4. public speaking skills to prepare students.
  3. Gaining practical experience

    To increase the likelihood of lucrative employment and the opportunity to qualify for a better research scientist position, aspiring applicants should consider the likelihood of employment for 1-2 years before pursuing a research doctorate. Some professionals put off getting a master’s degree for a few years to work as a research assistant for 1-2 years to gain practical experience. After that, you can continue your academic studies to qualify for a higher position.

  4. Certification

    Often, the professionals represented do not need to have a special license. It is enough to have only the appropriate certifications. For research scientists, the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) has several of them that verify their professionalism. These include Clinical Research scientists, Principal investigators, and ACRP Specialists. Separate appropriate certifications are provided for all of them.

  5. Consider pursuing a doctoral degree

    To become one of the best researchers and true professionals in your chosen field, you should consider pursuing a doctoral degree. More often than not, it takes four to five years to complete a doctoral degree. Candidates for this program must conduct unique research papers during their studies. Their achievements must also be recognized by their professors or supervisors. The degree program also requires you to defend your research through formal procedures.

Average salary

If you are considering becoming a research scientist, it is a good idea to investigate your salary. The average salary for this position in the U.S. can be $128,660 per year. Salary ranges from $36,000 to $278,000 per year. The amount of salary depends on many factors: experience, the chosen branch of activity, and in what state you are applying for a job.

Required skills

A research scientist who wants to achieve tangible success in his career should have the skills necessary for the profession presented.

Ability to communicate with people

These professionals need to have strong verbal communication skills with other people. Often you have to interact with other employees (scientists, laboratory technicians). In addition, it does not hurt to have strong writing skills for writing professional grant proposals, obtaining research investments, and writing competent reports on the complete work. It is worth noting that a research scientist often has to write scientific articles for publication in a journal.

Ability to analyze information

Represented professionals must be able to conduct research, collect data and analyze information to conclude.

Critical thinking skills

Researchers should approach their work with maximum criticality to solve a particular problem. It will help find the best way to study the issue.

The ability to develop interpersonal connections

Researchers should work well as part of a team, interacting with every group member, from technician to assistant. Interpersonal communication skills, the ability to not only talk but also to listen and listen to the opinions of others, are the basis for building strong working relationships and effective teamwork.


Often, it takes a satisfyingly long time to get a visible result. Represented professionals must be patient to see the research through and not quit halfway through.

Attention and meticulousness

Research scientists must remain as meticulous as possible in every detail to record all the information obtained in experiments and develop reproducible procedures.


We have compiled some of the most popular questions about becoming a research scientist and the peculiarities of the profession.

Do research scientists have career prospects?

The prospect of development in this position depends directly on the direction the specialist has chosen for himself. As U.S. statistics indicate, we should expect the employment of research scientists in the medical field to increase by 8% shortly. It is significantly ahead of other professions. In particular, this is because there is increasing interest in studying cancer and other ailments which require specialists.

It’s not just medicine that’s evolving. Also, between 2018 and 2028, the job prospects for research scientists in information and computer technology are expected to increase by 16%. Such demand is formed based on the need for new developments and projects. In particular, cybersecurity, methods of suppressing cyber-attacks, etc., are of distinct interest.

What kind of environment do research scientists work in?

Often these professionals are employed by a college or university. In addition, research scientists are in demand by honest research companies and other nonprofit centers. The primary work environment for the represented scientist is the office or laboratory. Working contacts involve interaction with other scientists to achieve research success together. Scientists need to know how to interact correctly with special tools and machines. It all depends on the chosen field of work. Some specialists deal with sick people to study the nature of the disease.

What is the work schedule of research scientists?

Most often, the represented specialists work full-time during standard working hours. It is worth noting that some workers may stay longer, take night shifts, or work on weekends.

Date: 6 July 2022
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