How to Become a Medical Scientist

Medical Scientist

Medical scientists carry out research into diseases and health conditions with the intention to improve human health. They study individuals and groups to reach conclusions about the best method of treatment for different illnesses.

Medical scientists have a research-based role in laboratories and offices. They investigate various illnesses, conditions, and ailments by analysing patterns in individual and collective cases.

Medical scientists collaborate with physicians and other health professionals in their research with the ultimate aim to improve general human health by finding both the appropriate treatment and causes for certain diseases.

In the modern world, increasing amounts of medical research is necessary. This is due to an aging population in many countries across the world, more chronic diseases being discovered, and an increasing reliance on pharmaceuticals. Therefore, medical science is a rapidly growing field – the need for people in this profession across the globe is expected to increase significantly in the next few years.

Medical scientists may work with individual patients to consider how they respond to particular treatments, using this knowledge to reach conclusions about effective remedies and managing the disease. In other settings, medical scientists may conduct their own experiments to deepen their research, or analyse medical data – including laboratory reports and findings from clinical trials. Most medical scientists specialise in a certain illness or condition.

Medical scientists are often in charge of experiments, and will need to manage a team of people who are also working in the laboratory.

A medical scientist’s main roles include:

  • Studying the patterns of human diseases through data, medical samples, and individual patient cases.
  • Conducting experiments with cells to further deepen their research.
  • Finding links between certain variables and assessing different conditions.
  • Assessing what pharmaceuticals may help a particular illness.
  • Working with physicians to run trials to see how different groups react to drugs.
  • Writing up reports of all of their findings, including what they advise to be the best path of action.
  • Working closely with physicians and other health professionals at all stages of their research.
  • Presenting their findings to medical bodies.
  • Explaining the reasons for certain types of research.

To become a medical scientist, candidates will need a degree in biology, chemistry or another science degree. After an undergraduate degree, candidates generally take a PhD in medical science or medical research. Medical scientists will need to acquire a license before being able to practice.

However, they will not only require science expertise; prospective medical scientists will need to undertake training for research and writing reports throughout their tertiary education. Medical research degrees are a mix of lab work, science theory, and research-based skills, but it is very beneficial for candidates to work on their research, report-writing, and speech-making abilities throughout their education and into their career.

Other qualities that are needed for medical scientists are critical thinking skills as they must often look at different solutions and reach the best one, decision making as they should will need to conclude which research questions to ask and what lines of research to explore further, and observational skills throughout lab experiments and studies.

Most medical scientists work 40 hour weeks and normal office hours, but some may need to work extra hours – including evenings and weekends – when they have trials or other studies.

What degree is most commonly held by a Medical Scientist?


  • Bachelor of Applied Science - BASc
  • Master of Laboratory Medicine
  • Bachelor of Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Technologist
  • Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Laboratory Medicine)

Career Transportability across Countries


Transportability: Medium
Medical science is generally based within one country, with the research being for that nation-specific, based on one particular medical system. However, medical scientists are in demand all over the world, and some countries are eager to hire people with different perspectives. Medical scientists across the world are also very keen to share new findings; so collaborating and presenting abroad is very possible for candidates in this role.

What is the Salary of a Medical Scientist?

ExperienceEducationAverage salary | year
AU$UK£US$
Scientist (Healthcare and Medical) / For UK: Biomedical Scientist1-3 yrs€48,000£48,900$38,368
Scientist (Healthcare and Medical)3-5 yrs€70,000£55,900$43,849
Research Scientist (Biotechnology & Genetics)5-10 yrs€102,000£71,600$56,182

What skills are needed to become a Medical Scientist?


  • Leadership
  • Clinical Research
  • Healthcare
  • Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Public Speaking
  • Research
  • Customer Service
  • Molecular Biology
  • Team Building
  • Training
  • Biochemistry
  • Marketing
  • Coaching
  • Business Development
  • Sales
  • Microsoft Office
  • Hospitals
  • Clinical Trials
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Project Management
  • Hematology
  • Microbiology
  • Strategy

Medical Scientist Courses

Medical scientist positions require a range of skills; from a solid grounding in medicine to research and reporting capabilities. Those who are wondering how to become a medical scientist would benefit from taking courses like Improving Healthcare Through Clinical Research to learn all about the benefits of research skills and medicine.

  • Introduction to Translational Research: Connecting Scientists and Medical Doctors

    Understand the emerging discipline of translational medicine and the process of taking research from benchside to bedside

  • Exploring Cancer Medicines

    Explore the use of medicines in treating cancer and take your first steps towards becoming a science writer

  • MedTech: AI and Medical Robots

    Explore human robot interaction and enter the fascinating world of robotics and artificial intelligence in healthcare

  • The Power of Data in Health and Social Care

    Discover the power of data analytics for individuals and organisations working in health and social care

  • Whole Genome Sequencing: Decoding the Language of Life and Health

    Learn how whole genome sequencing works and what it could mean for the future of healthcare with this free online course

  • What is a Mind?

    Explore the most pertinent scientific and philosophical concepts for understanding our own minds with this free online course

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