If you watched your friends struggle through the science classes you loved in school, a job as a biomedical scientist could be your niche. Your research and scientific experimentation skills can put you at the forefront of uncovering the reasons behind baffling diseases and how to treat and prevent them. As a bonus, the biomedical scientist salary is significantly higher than average for all occupations.
The median biomedical scientist salary as of May 2017 was $82,090.
Scientists who use laboratory research methodology to study disease prevention and treatments are called biomedical scientists or microbiologists. These scientists design and implement medical research studies in a wide variety of areas that often depend on where they are employed.
For example, if a research study depends on outside funding, you may be involved in writing a research grant to obtain the funds. If this is the case, it's important that the research topic is one you're passionate about so you can write a compelling grant.
If you're employed by a pharmaceutical company, your research will likely have to do with one or more new drugs the company wants to promote with studies to back up their claims. You could work with a physician to determine the ideal dosages that produce the intended results with the fewest side effects. You might conduct studies of a drug in the trial phase or one already in use to determine the occurrences of differing side effects.
A manufacturer or inventor of medical equipment might hire you as part of a team of scientists who test new or improved equipment to assess its possibilities as well as its limits.
You could work for a research university or an independent laboratory, conducting experiments on medical specimens looking for specific diseases and how to cure or prevent them.
Regardless of the work location, the job description includes using the standard procedures and taking the required precautions to conduct research and experiments that are safe for you and others in the lab and surroundings.
The position involves writing about your research, sometimes presenting results to management, physicians or others. You may also publish your findings and analyses in trade journals.
The biomedical scientist job description varies widely depending on where you work. This gives you opportunities to change jobs during your career, using your skills in a different environment with differing purposes.
Biomedical scientists typically earn their bachelor's degree in a science such as biology or chemistry. This includes many math and statistics classes and communications courses to help you in writing reports about your research, writing persuasive grant applications and making presentations about your research results.
A biomedical scientist completes a master's degree in public health or one of the sciences, particularly working in research and development. However, most biomedical scientists earn a Ph.D. or a dual degree in science and medicine. You could become a medical doctor (M.D.), doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.), doctor of dental medicine (D.M.D.), doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.), or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), which requires Ph.D. level study.
Research scientists earn a Ph.D. in a scientific field and participate in several postdoctoral research appointments where they learn from experienced scientists and seek out appointments that relate to your passions. Once you become an integral part of a team, it's important to publish your research findings in medical journals. This can lead to a faculty position down the road if that's one of your goals.
You may decide to become a medical doctor or advanced practice nurse. In this case, you'll attend medical, dental or nursing school. You'll start with classroom study in anatomy, physiology and pharmacology and then move to clinical practice working with patients under the supervision of an experienced licensed physician. You choose your specialty, complete internships and a residency, and graduate as a doctor or APRN in your chosen field.
If you take this route, you may find yourself treating patients full time at first and then going into research part time and eventually full time. You should publish your research results and analyses along the way.
The median biomedical scientist salary was $82,090 as of 2017, with a range of $45,120 to $160,520. Physicians and surgeons had a median wage of more than $208,000 in 2017, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses earned a median salary of $110,930 in 2017. A median salary is the midpoint in a list of salaries for an occupation, where half earned more and half earned less.
Biomedical scientists spend a lot of time in laboratories conducting experiments and studies, and in offices compiling and analyzing their data. Most work in research and development in the private sector. Some work for colleges and universities, while others work in hospitals. A few biomedical scientists work for pharmaceutical companies or physician offices.
Years of Experience
Biomedical scientists gain experience while earning their Ph.D. and during their postdoctoral appointments. While these appointments are temporary, they may last several years. The same is true for those who decide to become physicians; they usually spend between three and seven years in residencies, depending on their specialties. They are paid for these postdoctoral appointments and residencies, however, and gain valuable experience in each.
Job Growth Trend
The need for biomedical scientists is expected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average growth for all jobs. The aging population means that diseases associated with aging will continue to increase, prompting the need for research into cures and better treatments.