Choosing the Right Career for Scientists

medical research career

About what percentage of all medical/dental/vetterinary students enroll in a medical research career? How many students choose to enter a medical research career when they decide to become doctor-scientists? What are some important medical research career facts that you should know?

An Overview

a woman Scientists

One of the most common medical research career facts is that only approximately ten percent of medical school students select a path toward a medical research career after graduating from medical school. Students who do go on to pursue this career change the most, from opting for an unrelated field (pathologist) to choosing a more focused area (clinical neurophysiologist or cardiologist). Among those who do change their direction, there is a significant proportion who opt to enter a path within the health care system, specifically a path as an x-ray technician or radiologic technologist. However, these technologists do not generally begin working in a clinical laboratory right away. They normally begin working in an outpatient facility such as a doctor’s office before being promoted into a medical research facility or hospital setting.

What To Consider Before Choosing To Become A Scientist


For those who do make a commitment to go into medical research, the next decision is whether to enter academia or industry-based research position. The numbers of people in academic positions are steadily declining, as there is less funding for academic research compared to industry based positions. This trend began around the late 1980s and has been ongoing ever since. In addition to needing the necessary funds for salary and benefits, academic positions also require researchers to have knowledge of specific medical research topics in order to apply for government grants.

The amount of research funding available directly impacts the type of career you can choose. There are currently three types of research careers open to medical professionals. These are industry related careers such as management researcher, consultant, and administrative officer. Business careers such as business analyst, marketing manager, and business analyst are open to individuals who have both business and scientific experience. These positions offer excellent benefits and excellent starting salaries.

If you are interested in obtaining a PhD, or a Ph.D., from a university, there are several routes to consider. The first is to complete a Master’s degree, which generally takes two to four years to complete. A PhD program at an accredited university usually takes two years, depending on the number of credits you take. At your end, you will be qualified for medical research funding which will provide a stipend to supplement your income while you further your education.

The second option available to you is to complete an undergraduate degree at an area of study with a focus on medical research. There are a number of colleges and universities across the country that offer a Master’s program in this field. Your course work will include clinical and laboratory experience, as well as a great deal of reading, writing, and other general academic skills. You will develop a solid academic reputation in your academic community, as well as a strong personal resume that will serve you well when you start looking for a job in the academic community.

If you have already completed a Master’s degree in the sciences, it is time to consider what career path to follow. Many companies are now looking for individuals with a scientific background, and those with a doctorate in particular often enjoy a higher starting salary and a great career prospects ahead of them. If you are interested in obtaining funding for your research, your academic researcher salary will provide a nice boost to your annual income. As you start out in your career, make sure to select an area of study that has an impeccable reputation and ample funds to support your work.

Bottom Line

In short, the route to a fulfilling research career can be a challenging one, but when you choose the right direction and work hard in your academic career you will succeed. It is best to choose a field that you are interested in and then begin to do the research on that topic. When you have completed your studies and passed all of the qualifying exams, begin networking with organizations that you feel have the connections to qualify you for grant funding. There is a world of funding out there for academic researchers, so never give up!

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