Career Development

What Does a Research Scientist Do?

Find out what a research scientist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a research scientist.

Research scientists are highly trained professionals who conduct research in a variety of fields. They may focus on any number of topics, from physics to biology to chemistry or other areas of science. Their work is generally aimed at expanding the boundaries of human knowledge by investigating new phenomena and developing new theories.

Research scientists commonly work with teams of other researchers, technicians, and support staff. They also often collaborate with engineers and computer programmers to develop new technologies that can be used in their research.

Research Scientist Job Duties

A research scientist typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Developing hypotheses based on existing data and research, working with other scientists to design experiments to test those hypotheses, and collecting and analyzing data to reach conclusions
  • Conducting research related to new technologies or applications of existing technologies to meet specific goals or objectives
  • Designing experiments or surveys to collect data on topics such as human behavior, attitudes, beliefs, motivations, and the effects of different stimuli on individuals
  • Conducting experiments or research projects in conjunction with other scientists or researchers
  • Communicating research findings to other scientists or the general public through presentations, reports, and published papers
  • Evaluating experimental methods used by other scientists to ensure that they are scientifically sound and reproducible by other researchers
  • Conducting research to develop new pharmaceuticals or other products based on chemical reactions, biological processes, and physical phenomena such as radiation or electricity
  • Evaluating research findings using statistical methods such as hypothesis testing, factor analysis, and t tests to determine whether they support the research hypothesis
  • Preparing reports about research findings, conclusions, and recommendations for future research

Research Scientist Salary & Outlook

The salary of a research scientist can vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of company they work for. Research scientists who work in pharmaceutical companies typically earn more than those who work in other industries.

  • Median Annual Salary: $95,000 ($45.67/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $153,000 ($73.56/hour)

The employment of research scientists is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

Research scientists will be needed to conduct basic and applied research in fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information technology. In addition, demand for research scientists will come from industries that use scientific and technological research, such as pharmaceuticals and computer hardware and software.

Research Scientist Job Requirements

A research scientist typically has the following qualifications:

Education: Research scientists typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, genetics or another closely related field. Some research scientists choose to earn a master’s or doctoral degree to increase their earning potential and qualify for more advanced positions.

Many research scientists specialize in a particular field of study. For example, a genetic research scientist would need a degree in genetics, biology or a related field.

Training & Experience: Research scientists typically receive on-the-job training once they begin working with a company. This training may include learning the specific software and laboratory equipment the company uses. It may also include instruction on safety procedures and any regulations the company follows.

Some research scientists pursue additional training to stay current with the latest scientific developments. They may attend seminars or conferences to learn about new research findings. They may also read scientific journals to keep up with the latest discoveries.

Certifications & Licenses: Research scientists do not have specific certifications that they need to obtain, but many pursue professional certifications that show their dedication to their work and their field.

Research Scientist Skills

Research scientists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is another important skill for research scientists. They often communicate with other scientists, engineers and other members of their research team. They also communicate with their supervisors and other company representatives to explain their research and request additional resources.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information and make decisions based on the information you have. As a research scientist, you may be required to make important decisions about the research you conduct. Having strong critical thinking skills can help you make the best decisions for your research and the company you work for.

Problem-solving: Problem-solving skills are necessary for research scientists because they often encounter challenges during their work. They need to be able to identify the problem, research potential solutions and implement a solution that works. This is especially important when working with other scientists because they may have different perspectives on how to solve a problem.

Time management: Time management is another skill that research scientists use in their careers. They often have multiple projects and tasks they need to complete in a certain amount of time. Having good time management skills allows them to prioritize their work and make sure they complete everything on time.

Teamwork: Research scientists often work in teams to complete their projects. This is because research often requires the input of multiple experts in different fields. For example, a research team might include a biologist, a computer programmer and a statistician. Each member of the team has a different skill set, which allows the team to work together to complete the research.

Research Scientist Work Environment

Research scientists typically work in laboratories and offices, where they conduct experiments, analyze data, and write reports. They may work on a team with other scientists or alone. They usually work regular hours, but they may work extra hours to finish a project or to meet a deadline. Some research scientists travel to other countries to collect data or to attend conferences.

Research Scientist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how research scientists work. Research scientists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Interdisciplinary Research

Research scientists are increasingly needed to work across disciplines in order to solve complex problems. This trend is driven by the need for more interdisciplinary research, which can lead to better solutions and faster results.

As research scientists become more specialized, they will need to learn how to collaborate with researchers from other fields in order to get the most out of their research. This requires a willingness to understand the different methods and approaches used by other researchers, as well as a willingness to compromise on certain aspects of research in order to achieve a common goal.

The Growth of Data Science

The growth of data science is a trend that has been gaining traction in recent years. As businesses have come to realize the value of data, they have begun to invest in professionals who can help them make sense of it all.

This trend is having a significant impact on the research scientist profession, as businesses are now looking for professionals who can not only collect data but also analyze it and provide insights into what it means. In order to be successful in this field, research scientists will need to be able to not only collect data but also understand how to use it to make decisions.

A Greater Focus on Ethics in Research

As research becomes more complex and widespread, the need for ethics in research is becoming increasingly important. This is because research can have a major impact on people’s lives, both directly and indirectly.

As research scientists, you will need to be aware of the ethical implications of your work and take steps to ensure that your research is conducted in a responsible manner. This may include things like getting approval from an ethics board or ensuring that your research subjects are informed about the potential risks and benefits of participating in your study.

How to Become a Research Scientist

A career as a research scientist can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to consider the type of work you want to do, the type of organization you want to work for, and the location where you want to live.

If you want to do basic or applied research, you may want to work for a university or a government laboratory. If you want to develop new products or processes, you may want to work for a company in industry. If you want to teach science, you may want to work for a school district or a private college.

No matter what type of research scientist you become, it’s important to have a strong background in math and science. You should also be able to think creatively and be willing to take on challenges.

Related: How to Write a Research Scientist Resume

Advancement Prospects

A research scientist typically advances in one of two ways: by taking on more responsibility within their current organization, or by moving to a new organization where they are able to take on more responsibility.

As a research scientist gains experience, they are typically able to take on more complex projects and tasks. They may also be given the opportunity to lead a team of other scientists. In some cases, a research scientist may move into a management role within their organization.

Alternatively, a research scientist may choose to move to a new organization where they are able to take on a more senior role. This could involve leading a team of scientists, or managing a larger research project.

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