Research scientists improve and prolong life by helping to prevent and cure illnesses.
They work to learn everything possible about a particular field of interest and training.
• study disease processes to find the causes of illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
• research actions of foods, drugs, hormones, nutrients and other substances.
• isolate and identify bacteria, viruses and parasites.
• study how the immune system works to prevent illness.
• discover ways in which humans/animals lived, worked and died in ancient times.
• develop better ways to process, store and use foods, drugs and chemical
• use and develop tests to detect diseases, genetic disorders or other abnormalities.
• design and build special laboratory instruments, space vehicles and underwater
• develop methods to transfer characteristics of one type of organism to another.
• analyze and apply mathematical and scientific theories.
• write reports and scientific papers based on research.
Research scientists may specialize in many different areas:
• Biochemists study chemical processes of living organisms and changes that
take place during their development.
• Geneticists study the biology of heredity.
• Immunologists study the ways in which humans and other organisms resist illnesses.
• Marine biologists study life in the seas and oceans.
• Microbiologists study bacteria and other organisms.
• Molecular biologists study living organisms’ basic structure and function.
• Pathologists study the causes and characteristics of diseases.
• Physicists study interactions of matter and energy.
Research scientists may work alone or as a member of a team and usually are assisted by laboratory workers who perform routine work. Most research scientists work in laboratories; some also teach in colleges and universities.
Average Salary Range
$30,000 – $100,000
Students interested in becoming research scientists should take the most challenging high school courses available in
science, math and English, including advanced placement courses. The minimum educational requirement is a
bachelor’s degree. A bachelor or doctoral degree may be required for those who conduct advanced research or hold management and administrative jobs.
Association of Clinical Research
1012 14th St., N.W., Suite 807
Washington, D.C. 20005
American Society for Microbiology
Office of Education and Training,
1752 N St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
National Academy of Sciences
National Research Council
2101 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20418