Modern Medical Scientist in research lab

How to Become a Medical Scientist

Learn about the duties and requirements of a Medical Scientist, as well as their training, salaries, and job outlook.

Modern Medical Scientist in research lab

Do you like the idea of helping to create medical breakthroughs? In the world of healthcare, Medical Scientists perform research that strives to improve overall human health. These professionals typically use clinical trials and other fact-finding methods to obtain their findings. If you’re interested in healthcare and pursuing knowledge, then a career as a Medical Scientist could be your ideal path.

Our career guide will teach you everything you need to know about becoming a Medical Scientist, including the educational requirements, certifications, and day-to-day tasks. It will also cover how long it generally takes to launch this new career.

Not sure if the field of medical science is right for you? Click here to see more careers highlighted on our list of the 12 best entry-level medical jobs.

Medical Scientist Definition

What Is a Medical Scientist?

Medical Scientists often form hypotheses and create experiments with little or no supervision. In fact, they usually lead teams of technicians or students who carry out support tasks. Medical Scientists analyze the roots of diseases as well as other health problems. For instance, a Medical Scientist who performs cancer research might conceive a combination of drugs that could lessen the disease’s progress. A clinical trial may even be conducted to test the drugs.

Medical Scientist: Job Description

What Does a Medical Scientist Do?

Before a drug or device can be used to treat patients, it must undergo exhaustive testing to ensure it’s safe and effective. Medical Scientists use their analytical skills to perform the research that propels developments in the field of healthcare.

Medical Scientist Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of Medical Scientists include:

  • Conducting research that investigates human diseases, techniques to prevent them, and how to treat them
  • Analyzing medical samples or data to identify causes of toxicity, pathogens, and chronic diseases
  • Standardizing drug potency and methods to allow for mass distribution
  • Creating and testing medical devices
  • Developing programs that improve health outcomes
  • Writing research grant proposals
  • Following procedures to maintain safety measures

Medical Scientist Skills

Most Medical Scientists possess excellent critical-thinking skills. They also excel at communication, data analysis, decision-making, and observation. In short, Medical Scientists are typically observant and curious. They have an eye for detail and enjoy working in laboratories or similar settings.

Medical laboratory technicians studying samples

Medical Scientist Hours & Work Environment

The majority of Medical Scientists work 40 hours per week. They may split their time between laboratory and office settings. However, entry-level Medical Scientist positions include lots of lab work. They wear protective gear, undergo training, and follow proper procedures. This is because some areas of their research may necessitate working with dangerous biological samples or chemicals.

Medical Scientist Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Medical Scientist?

What Degree Do You Need to be a Medical Scientist?

Medical Scientists typically have a Ph.D. in biology or related life science. Others might seek a medical degree instead of—or in addition to—a Ph.D. Start this career path with a Medical Lab Science degree or a bachelor’s degree program that can be completed in as little as 120 weeks.

Like any worthwhile goal, a career as a Medical Scientist will seem much more attainable if you break it down into individual steps.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the education, experience, and certifications you’ll need to become a Medical Scientist:

1. Enroll in a Medical Laboratory Science Degree Program

Whether a career starter or a career changer, one of the best ways to become a Medical Scientist is to pursue a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited college. You can enroll in the Medical Laboratory Science program at Brookline College with a high school diploma or GED and a passing grade on the Scholastic Level Exam.

2. Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Laboratory Science

Most bachelor’s degree programs will include general education requirements like math, communications, and social and behavioral sciences. Of course, they also include degree-specific studies. As an aspiring Medical Scientist, you’ll study topics like microbiology, organic and chemical chemistry, hematology, and immunology. In addition, you’ll likely receive hands-on training in laboratories or simulated settings, providing you with practical knowledge about medical equipment.

3. Obtain Certification with a Major Professional Organization

Once you have earned a medical laboratory science degree, seeking additional certifications would be highly beneficial. Enhance your job and career prospects by pursuing certification with the American Medical Technologists (AMT) or the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

While AMT certification requires passing a standardized, multiple-choice test, ASCP certification uses computer-adaptive testing to test your knowledge. This means that a correct answer will prompt a more difficult question, an incorrect answer will produce a less difficult question, and so on.

How Much Does It Cost to Earn a Medical Scientist Degree?

Some colleges or universities charge $20,000 or more per semester for tuition alone—this amount doesn’t include necessities like books, lab fees, etc. However, the surge in virtual education has made a bachelor’s degree more accessible than ever. While comparing colleges, remember to look for accredited institutions that volunteer their tuition rates and other costs for your education. It couldn’t hurt to look for a college with online classes, too!

Medical Scientist Salary

How Much Do Medical Scientists Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a Medical Scientist is about $104,000, or about $50 per hour, which is higher, on average, than most other occupations. Medical Scientists in the top 10% of earners can make more than $166,000 annually.

Highest Paying Industries for Medical Scientists

According to the BLS, these are the top-paying industries for Medical Scientists:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Electronic Markets, Agents, & Brokers $90.50 $188,240
Merchant Wholesalers $76.81 $159,760
Federal Executive Branch $66.96 $139,280
Grantmaking & Giving Services $63.72 $132,540
Computer Systems Design $62.14 $129,240

Medical professional holding a piggy bank

Highest Paying States for Medical Scientists

State Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Connecticut $68.44 $142,340
Maine $66.82 $138,980
Delaware $62.44 $129,870
New Jersey $62.11 $129,190
Tennessee $62.03 $129,020

Highest Paying Cities for Medical Scientists

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Memphis, Tennessee $84.99 $176,770
Columbia, South Carolina $74.79 $155,570
Danbury, Connecticut $73.06 $151,970
Hartford, Connecticut $70.30 $146,220
New Haven, Connecticut $66.82 $138,990
San Jose, California $66.44 $138,190
San Francisco, California $65.83 $136,920
Ithaca, New York $65.30 $135,820
Bridgeport, Connecticut $64.97 $135,140
Vallejo, California $63.05 $131,140

What is the Job Outlook for Medical Scientists?

By 2031, the BLS projects employment of Medical Scientists to grow by 17%, which is much higher than the average growth rate for all jobs (5%). As the population ages, the rate of chronic disease will increase. Medical Scientists are vital when it comes to the research of disease treatment.

Start Your Dream Career as a Medical Scientist

If you have an insatiable desire to contribute to a healthier world, a career as a Medical Scientist could be an incredibly rewarding path for you. Learn more about the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Brookline College and get started on the road to a satisfying new field of work.

Medical Researcher in a laboratory