Medical research is one field that’s continuing to expand as technology opens the door to more innovation and bigger discoveries. That means there are also ample job opportunities for people with the right education and experience. One of the most interesting segments of the industry is medical research.

People working in medical research help make life-saving breakthroughs by analyzing samples, testing medicines, conducting experiments and gathering data. It’s a field that comes with exciting prospects and very good pay. Find out what it takes to get started and secure a job in medical research.


Working Environments and Careers in Medical Research

When people hear the term medical research they automatically think of a hospital environment. In actuality, medical researchers can work in a variety of locations from universities to a pharmaceutical company’s headquarters.

Career seekers should consider one important point before they start pursuing a career in medical research. Working in a biorepository or medical laboratory will require a background check for security clearance in many cases. In addition to handling very delicate specimens, researchers in these environments often have access to dangerous materials and very expensive equipment. Facilities have to make sure they’re hiring people who have the right education and experience while not posing any sort of security risk.

Entrepreneurs and business owners can even get into medical research by opening their own laboratory or funding a study. This is actually quite common for businesses that need FDA approval for products. So there’s a chance you’ll work in a research facility, but your employer may not operate within the medical industry.

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There are more career paths in medical research than ever before for people who are motivated to earn a higher education. Some of the top occupations in the field include:

Medical Scientists: These scientists are the individuals that oversee medical studies and clinical trials or the analysis of a study’s findings. They usually work with very little oversight and are charged with managing complex processes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical scientists make over $82,000 a year on average and the job growth outlook is 8% between now and 2024.

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians: People in these roles collect samples and perform tests on them in a laboratory setting. An increased need for diagnosing medical conditions has led to a 16% job growth for these types of positions. Pay for these professions varies considerably, but the median salary is over $50,500 a year.

Epidemiologists: Instead of working with medical samples, epidemiologists collect and analyze large data sets to look for patterns in disease and injury. They then publish their findings and create community education materials. Their job is to find connections and make determinations that could save many lives. The median pay for this type of job is about $62,500. Right now epidemiologist job growth is average at 6% annually.

Medical Librarians: Medical librarians don’t necessarily work within labs; however, they do assist in making big discoveries. They have a job similar to epidemiologists, but they don’t collect data or work with the community directly. Instead, medical librarians look up information to help doctors, patients and researchers find answers to medically related questions. The job growth is average at 7%, and the Medical Library Association reports that the average salary was close to $67,000 in 2012.

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Educational Requirements for Working in Medical Research

In the highly skilled field of medical research, many careers require a certain amount of higher education. Fortunately, there is a huge selection of options available today, including online courses.

  • ·  Medical researchers must obtain a professional degree or doctorate. Many elect to get an M.D. or a Ph.D. in a life science such as biology. If the job requires administering medications or practicing medicine in any way a physician’s license may also be needed.
  • ·  Medical librarians usually need to have a Master’s in library and information science. Keep in mind the school you attend must be accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
  • ·  Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians have a range of options in higher education. Technicians often only need an associates degree while technologists are usually required to have a Bachelor’s degree. Licensing may also be required depending on the state.
  • ·  Epidemiologists must have a master’s degree or higher from an accredited school. The most typical degree is a Master’s in public health.

But getting a good paying job in medical research doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a Ph.D. You can start by studying at a state-run community college to save money on your higher education. An associates degree in a related field will get you a foot in the door and allow you to start working while you continue your education.