How to Become a Medical Researcher

Medical Researcher Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $64,830
Avg. Pay / hour $31.17
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 8%

The medical industry heavily relies on the specialized work provided by Medical Researchers.

These professionals are at the forefront of medical advancements to develop treatments, medicines and possible cures for a variety of medical diseases and disorders.

Some common medical maladies and diseases Medical Researchers may study and investigate include: cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and the medicines and treatments being developed for these disorders.

Individuals who want to become a Medical Researcher will need an extensive medical background, postsecondary degree and skills in data analysis in order to succeed in this profession.

Education Requirements to Become a Medical Researcher

Individuals who want to become a Medical Researcher will need a strong background in medicine and complete required postsecondary degrees in order to enter this profession.

Medical Researchers will also have to attend medical school to attain a PhD in Biomedical Sciences or a Medical Degree (MD).

A medical license is a requirement for individuals who want to do medical research and treat patients.

As undergraduates, individuals who want to become a Medical Researcher will need pursue a degree in a science related field.

Some typical degrees individuals can seek include biology, chemistry and microbiology.

It is also highly recommended that undergraduates take classes in writing and English in order to develop skills useful in research and grant writing.

Other helpful courses include: mathematics, physical science and life sciences.

As graduate students, individuals who want to become a Medical Researcher have the option to pursue a PhD program or a dual program that combines a PhD and a medical degree.

Medical degree/PhD programs provide training in both research and medicine.

Under these dual programs, individuals can combine a PhD with the following degrees: Medical Doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).

Traditional PhD programs are approximately 4 years in length and focus more on laboratory work and an individual’s own research.

During this phase, students will have the opportunity to focus on a specialization such as: cancers, neurology or gerontology.

Individuals will also be given the opportunity to supervise undergraduate students.

Students will also work in depth on their original research and prepare for a thesis reporting on their findings.

A thesis is a written hypothesis focusing on a student’s research that needs to be presented to a committee of professors.

Medical Researcher Job Description

Medical Researchers are highly educated professionals who work in the medical field providing research that help improve human health.

These professionals will spend their time researching medical problems, writing grants to keep their projects funded and write reports on their findings.

Some laboratory work includes developing and managing studies that help understand a variety of human ailments.

They will also investigate preventative care and treatment for the diseases they research.

They will work with medical samples and information to determine the causes and treatments.

Medical Researchers also work in conjunction with a variety of professionals such as industry experts, doctors and health departments to create programs that improve a population’s health.

Medical Researcher Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median salary for Medical Researchers and Scientists was approximately $76,980 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including industry, level of experience and company size.

For example, Medical Researchers who work for state colleges, universities or professional schools earn an annual median salary of approximately $53,740 while individuals who work for pharmaceutical and medicine production companies earn a median income of approximately $92,940 per year.

The job outlook for Medical Researchers is expected to grow by 13 percent through the year 2022.

This job growth is expected to grow as fast as average when compared to other professions and is attributed to the increased demand for research into illnesses such as cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer’s.

In addition, Medical Researchers are also needed to study treatments and medicines such as resistance to antibiotics.

Clearly, this profession is one that many people depend on to help solve medical problems.

A career in Medical Research may be a great path for individuals who would like to work in medicine, but not directly treat patients.

This career gives individuals the opportunity to help make advancements in medicine, work in a challenging environment and work in one of the fastest growing industries.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$72,480
New Jersey$90,550
New Mexico$50,940
New York$82,260
North Carolina$80,240
North Dakota$72,750
South Carolina$64,750
West Virginia$68,920
Puerto Rico$52,590

The top earning state in the field is Massachusetts, where the average salary is $118,880.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Massachusetts - $118,880
Montana - $101,370
Maryland - $100,100
California - $100,030
Georgia - $98,130
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Microbiologists, OCC Code 19-1022, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a medical researcher do?

Medical researchers study diseases and try to find new treatments and ways of preventing illness in order to help improve human health.

They usually work in offices and laboratories and spend most of their time studying data and writing reports.

Medical researchers sometimes work with dangerous samples and chemicals and this is why they have to follow strict safety and sanitation procedures.

The exact job requirements vary depending on the field of employment.

Some medical researchers design and conduct studies to investigate a particular disease while others create and test medical devices.

As a medical researcher, you may also have to apply for funding for a particular research project.

To become a medical researcher you need not only a strong scientific background but also several important skills, such as dexterity, attention to detail, research, writing and communication skills.

How much does a medical researcher make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for medical scientists, in general, was $84,810 as of May 2018.

However, salaries in this field vary widely depending on the field of employment.

For example, those who work from the pharmaceutical and manufacturing field earned a median wage of $115,450 a year, while those who work in hospitals earned a median wage of $87,060 a year as of May 2018.

How much does it cost to become a medical researcher?

In order to become a medical researcher, you will usually need a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, biotechnology or a related field and a Ph.D. in the field in which you want to specialize.

A four-year bachelor’s degree program can cost you anywhere between $5,000 and more than $30,000 a year.

Ph.D. programs usually focus on teaching students how to interpret data and how to design a research project, skills that are very important for medical scientists.

Some schools also offer dual programs that teach both the clinical skills needed to become a physician and the research skills needed if you decide to work in a lab.

Research-based Ph.D. programs cost, on average, around $35,000-$40,000 a year but tuition costs vary widely depending on the school you choose.

What is the demand for medical researchers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical scientists is expected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

This growth is explained in part by the fact that more people are diagnosed with chronic conditions and rely on medical treatment to help control their illnesses.

Job prospects should be especially good for researchers who specialize in studying diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS or cancer.

How long does it take to become a medical researcher?

Medical researchers usually hold a bachelor’s degree in science and a Ph.D. in the field in their specialty.

While a bachelor’s degree can be earned after 4 years of post-secondary study, Ph.D. programs typically take 5-6 years.

This means that medical researchers may need up to 10 years of training beyond high school.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

One thought on “How to Become a Medical Researcher

  1. I’m just from graduating from college and I’m looking for an university which offers medical research courses with full scholarship.

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