Medical Scientists


Employment Prospects


Approximately 130,700 medical scientists are employed in the United States. About 34 percent work in research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences. Major employers include pharmaceutical and biotech companies, colleges and universities, government agencies, nonprofit research organizations, medical offices, and hospitals.

Starting Out

Good ways to land a job in the field include via contacts made through postdoctoral positions or networking events; college career services offices; employment Web sites; the Web sites of professional associations such as the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics; and newspaper want ads. If you would like to work for the federal government, you should visit the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Web site,

Advancement Prospects

Medical scientists advance by becoming managers, working on more prestigious research projects, or by receiving higher pay. Others become college professors or consultants, or form their own start-up biotech firms. Some receive recognition from professional associations and government agencies for their work.

Tips for Entry

Volunteer or acquire a part-time job at a laboratory or health facility to gain experience working in a medical environment.

Join a school or local group with an emphasis on science and biology experiments.

Arrange for an information interview with a local medical scientist to learn more about the field, the job, and any specialties that seem interesting.

Read industry publications and remain aware of any new developments or breakthroughs in the field, such as a new blood sugar testing kit for diabetics or a new type of therapy.