California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists in California

May also be called: Cancer Researchers; Cell Culture Scientists; Clinical Laboratory Scientists; Clinical Pharmacologists; Clinical Research Associates; Clinical Research Directors; Clinical Researchers; Clinical Research Scientists; Cytologists; Toxicologists; Virologists

What Would I Do?

Medical Scientists research human diseases and conditions to improve human health. Most conduct biomedical research and development to advance knowledge of life processes and living organisms, including viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents. Past research has resulted in advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of many diseases and the development of new vaccines, drugs, and treatment procedures.

Many Medical Scientists work in private industry, university, or government laboratories, exploring new areas of research or expanding on specialized research. Some work as consultants or with other Scientists. Those who work with dangerous organisms or toxic substances must follow strict safety procedures to avoid contamination.

Medical Scientists typically work regular hours in offices or laboratories. However, irregular work hours may be required depending on the nature of their research.

Will This Job Fit Me?

Medical Scientists enjoy working with ideas and finding solutions. These occupations can involve searching for facts and can require an extensive amount of thinking. People who have a strong interest in science and medicine and enjoy learning may be attracted to this occupation.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

It is unusual for overtime to be paid in academic institutions, but is more common in private industry.

The median wage in 2020 for Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists in California is $110,664 annually, or $53.21 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2020Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits generally include medical, dental, life and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. Some Medical Scientists may be self-employed and therefore are responsible for their own benefits and retirement.

What is the Job Outlook?

Medical Scientists with both a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree and a medical degree (M.D.) are likely to experience many job opportunites.

How Do I Qualify?

A Ph.D. in a biological science is the minimum education requirement. This degree qualifies one to do research on basic life processes or on medical problems or diseases, and to analyze and interpret the results of experiments on patients. Those who administer drug or gene therapy, draw blood, take tissue samples, or perform other invasive procedures must be licensed physicians. To be licensed, physicians must graduate from an accredited medical school, pass a licensing examination, and complete one to seven years of graduate school.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Those working in the industry may recommend an interested candidate for jobs. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Also, networking with colleagues and professors may help Medical Scientists land their first research job. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

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