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Career profile Medical Scientist

Also known as Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Pharmacologist, Research Scientist, Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, Senior Scientist

Medical Scientist

Also known as Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Pharmacologist, Research Scientist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Realistic
Pay Range
$50,240 - $164,650 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Writing
  • Active Learning
  • Speaking
Knowledge Areas
  • Biology
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Chemistry
Core tasks
  • Follow strict safety procedures when handling toxic materials to avoid contamination.
  • Evaluate effects of drugs, gases, pesticides, parasites, and microorganisms at various levels.
  • Plan and direct studies to investigate human or animal disease, preventive methods, and treatments for disease.
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What does a Medical Scientist do?

Medical Scientists conduct research dealing with the understanding of human diseases and the improvement of human health.

In addition, Medical Scientists engage in clinical investigation, research and development, or other related activities.

What kind of tasks does a Medical Scientist perform regularly?

Medical Scientists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Follow strict safety procedures when handling toxic materials to avoid contamination.
  • Evaluate effects of drugs, gases, pesticides, parasites, and microorganisms at various levels.
  • Plan and direct studies to investigate human or animal disease, preventive methods, and treatments for disease.
  • Prepare and analyze organ, tissue, and cell samples to identify toxicity, bacteria, or microorganisms or to study cell structure.
  • Teach principles of medicine and medical and laboratory procedures to physicians, residents, students, and technicians.
  • Conduct research to develop methodologies, instrumentation, and procedures for medical application, analyzing data and presenting findings to the scientific audience and general public.
  • Write and publish articles in scientific journals.
  • Write applications for research grants.

The above responsibilities are specific to Medical Scientists. More generally, Medical Scientists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Thinking Creatively
Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is a Medical Scientist salary?

The median salary for a Medical Scientist is $91,510, and the average salary is $101,800. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Medical Scientist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Medical Scientists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Medical Scientists earn less than $50,240 per year, 25% earn less than $63,400, 75% earn less than $126,270, and 90% earn less than $164,650.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Medical Scientists is expected to change by 17.0%, and there should be roughly 12,600 open positions for Medical Scientists every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$50,240 - $164,650
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Medical Scientists?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Medical Scientist are usually higher in their Investigative, Artistic, and Realistic interests.

Medical Scientists typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Medical Scientists typically have moderate Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Lastly, Medical Scientists typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Medical Scientists typically have moderate Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Medical Scientist tend to value Independence, Recognition, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Medical Scientists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Medical Scientists strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Lastly, Medical Scientists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Medical Scientists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as analytical thinking, innovation, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Medical Scientists, ranked by importance:

Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Medical Scientists need?

Many Medical Scientists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Medical Scientists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Medical Scientists

  • 0.8% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 0.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 0.6% completed some college coursework
  • 0.5% earned a Associate's degree
  • 23.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 25.3% earned a Master's degree
  • 49.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Medical Scientists

Medical Scientists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as biology, medicine and dentistry, or chemistry knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Medical Scientists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Important Abilities needed by Medical Scientists

Medical Scientists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Medical Scientists need abilities such as inductive reasoning, oral expression, and written expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Medical Scientists, ranked by their relative importance.

Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Critical Skills needed by Medical Scientists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Medical Scientists frequently use skills like writing, active learning, and speaking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Medical Scientists, ranked by their relative importance.

Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Active Learning
Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.