Research Scientist Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Research Scientist Do?

A research scientist is a professional who conducts scientific work in a variety of fields, such as biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. In order to collect data and analyze results, they use a variety of methods, such as experiments, surveys, and simulations. These scientists can work within an academic institution, a government agency, or a private company. Collaboration with other researchers and professionals in their field is often necessary for them to further their research and make scientific advances.

Individuals in this role should possess excellent analytical, critical thinking, and research skills. In addition to being proficient in a variety of research methods and tools, they should also have experience analyzing data and designing experiments. Furthermore, a research scientist should possess excellent communication and teamwork skills, as well as the ability to collaborate effectively with other researchers and professionals.

Are you a job seeker?

Browse zengig’s
comprehensive list
of job openings
and apply online

National Average Salary

Research scientist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Research Scientist is:


Research Scientist Job Descriptions

When it comes to recruiting a research scientist, having the right job description can make a big difference. Here are some real world job descriptions you can use as templates for your next opening.

Example 1

As a research scientist for [Your Company Name], you are expected to demonstrate leadership in sensor design, clinical design, and sensor integration. You will also need to run clinical studies and handle the integration of technical, systems, and regulatory aspects of the project. The ideal candidate should be extremely proficient in statistical analyses and should be able to handle multiple statistical packages, be able to mentor and lead small research teams to execute complex projects, and write scientific journals, technical reports, grants, and contracts. You need to have proven experience formulating comprehensive research strategies, executing thorough methodological and analytical steps, analyzing results, and pitching your projects for publication.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Plans and conducts research experiments
  • Records and analyzes data and interprets results
  • Writes grant proposals and completes applications for funding to ensure they have the funds needed to carry out projects
  • Collaborates with team members and any support staff
  • Writes research papers and presents results to senior staff or other research teams
  • Supervises junior staff members or graduate students
  • Applies standard techniques, procedures, and criteria
  • Ensures proper care in the use and maintenance of equipment and supplies
  • Adheres to workplace safety and environmental practices
  • Keeps up to date with relevant scientific and technical developments
  • Designs, performs, and oversees experiments and data collection to ensure data integrity, quality control, and protocol compliance.

Education and experience

  • Master’s degree in a relevant field of science
  • PhD is highly desirable
  • Completion of a postdoctoral course is highly advantageous

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong scientific and math skills
  • Flexibility
  • Decisiveness
  • A logical and independent mind
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Strong teamwork skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Exceptional report writing skills
  • A methodical approach to gathering and analyzing data
  • Critical thinking
  • Advanced research skills
  • The ability to work independently

Preferred qualifications

  • Passionate about collaboration
  • Experience working in a laboratory environment
  • PhD in a relevant field of science

Example 2

The Scientific Team at ABC Company is hiring a Research Associate for a world-class biotech/pharmaceutical client in (City, State).

This organization is constantly involved in groundbreaking science, and you could be a part of that! The Research Scientist is part of a unique Microchemistry, Proteomics, and Lipidomics team.


  • Will work closely with team members to identify different types of lipids from biological tissue samples
  • Perform lipid extraction from biological samples
  • Develop and optimize LC-MS/MS methods for lipids analysis
  • Maintain and troubleshoot LC-MS/MS
  • Document experiments and studies
  • Facilitate clinical sample preparation
  • Perform other duties as assigned


  • PhD in Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, or equivalent areas
  • Proficient in the use of basic lab hardware such as balances, syringes, and pipettes
  • Experience in biological sample preparation and purification; lipids analysis experience from biological samples is preferred
  • Familiarity with LC-MS/MS

Additional details

  • 1 year project
  • W2 position
  • Must be eligible to work in the United States. Unable to provide visa sponsorship now or in the future

Example 3


This position will actively support environmental testing in the forest product industry. Primary focus of this role will be analytical testing using organic and inorganic methods as well as to participate in the development of new methods when necessary The samples being monitored are crucial to protecting the environment and monitoring indicators within the environment. Work is performed as part of a team in a collaborative environment.


  • Participate in the organization and conduct of research projects involving analytical components, and develop quantitative analytical methods as required to address project analytical needs.
  • Implement established quantitative analytical methods and assays using GC-FID, GC-ECD, GC-PFPD, GC-NPD, GC/MS, HPLC-UV, IC, and LC/MS/MS, both directly and by mentoring support staff.
  • Operate, maintain, and troubleshoot multiple GC, GC/MS, LC/MS/MS, and other instrument systems directly and by instructing and mentoring support staff in these functions
  • Provide analytical advice, analytical method reviews and auditing of contract laboratory data for member companies and forest products industry-affiliated organizations
  • Prepare laboratory reports for project leaders and member companies as well as other written communications that meet the highest standards of quality
  • Present scientifically sound technical information and research findings at NCASI conferences, webcasts, and other technical meetings
  • Maintain comprehensive laboratory notebooks, a neat and orderly laboratory workplace, and adhere to laboratory quality plans, QA/QC measures, and SOPs
  • Work safely and contribute to updating and improving laboratory safety practices
  • Supervise support laboratory staff, ensuring maintenance of laboratory equipment, and generation and reporting of high-quality analytical results


  • Master’s degree in analytical chemistry or closely associated scientific discipline or five plus years of professional experience executing analytical chemistry techniques applied to environmental matrices
  • PhD in analytical chemistry, preferred
  • Familiarity with forest products industry environmental topics related to pulping and papermaking process operations, preferred
  • Hands on experience in environmental test methods such as clean water act methods, clean air act methods, SW 846, and other environmental methods
  • Strong verbal and written communication, and data analysis skills
  • Strong computer skills with knowledge in Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint
  • Experience with or ability to learn industry-specific software, such as ChemStation and laboratory information management systems in a timely manner.
  • Follow safety procedures and work at the benchtop in office
  • Must be able to traverse stairs, effectively manipulate analytical glassware and instrumentation, and stand for long periods while working at benchtops or in the field. May be required to lift and carry equipment up to 30 pounds

Example 4

Position description

ABC Company is seeking a Research Scientist to review patent applications received from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). ABC Company supports the USPTO, which is a federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. The work performed by Research Scientists supports this contract with the USPTO as well as related commercial patent search and analysis services.

The USPTO registers trademarks and under this system of protection, American industry has flourished. New products have been invented, new uses for old ones discovered, and employment opportunities created for millions of Americans. Successful candidates are able to make significant contributions to the patent industry, while working in the growing economy and will travel (on occasion) to beautiful surroundings of (City, State).


  • Review and analyze Patent Applications based on the US and International patent classification structures, and determine a likely patent classification and a series of sub classifications
  • Provide technical expertise in one or more of the following technologies: medical and surgical procedures, medical/surgical instruments and supplies, diagnostic equipment, treatment devices; and exercising
  • Be expected to determine appropriate classifications in accordance with both U.S. and international patent classification systems through technical knowledge, research, and automated tools
  • Learn patent classification, search, and examination processes
  • Apply knowledge of classification processes to assign U.S. Patent Classification (USPC) and Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) codes to complex technical subject matter
  • Use automated systems to perform research and classification operations
  • Function in a production-based environment with emphasis on operating efficiently and accurately at a significant pace
  • Work independently with minimal supervision
  • Work closely with others in a team environment
  • Participate in on-going program training to expand knowledge in additional technical fields and patent services


  • A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Biology and Biochemistry, or related discipline or equivalent mix of education and experience
  • 0-2 years experience
  • Understanding of technical concepts and/or Medical Terminology
  • 25% travel may be required
  • Exceptional analytical skills and attention to detail
  • Strong reading comprehension skills
  • Strong written communication skills
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office Word and Excel
  • The ability to work on a computer workstation 8 hours per day
  • Must be able to obtain and/or maintain a Public Trust Security Clearance

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • Association of Clinical Research Professionals Certified Professional (ACRP-CP). The ACRP-CP certification recognizes a candidate’s knowledge, skill, and ability as they pertain to all aspects of clinical studies and trials. Certification is available to all professionals involved in clinical studies, regardless of their roles, practice settings, or career stages. 
  • Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC). The CRC is for clinical research professionals whose research activities are conducted under good clinical practice guidelines. The exam assesses a candidate’s knowledge and proficiency in the application of that knowledge in conducting research responsibilities. The six core knowledge areas covered on the exam include scientific concepts and research design, ethical and participant safety considerations, product development and regulation, and clinical trial operations. To be eligible to sit for the exam, candidates must have earned 3,000 hours of professional experience performing the knowledge and tasks outlined in the six core areas of research. Clinical certifications or education may substitute for work experience.
  • Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP). The Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) offers the CCRP certification proving a candidate’s knowledge, education, and experience on an international scale. The certification program promotes recognition and continuing excellence in the ethical conduct of clinical trials. Certification evaluates a candidate’s understanding and application of the conduct of clinical investigations involving humans following a number of international guidelines, including the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and the ethical principles that guide clinical research consistent with the principles of the Nuremberg Code, the Belmont Report and the Declaration of Helsinki.

Sample Interview Questions

  • How do you conduct research in your specific field, and what methods and tools do you typically use?
  • When developing a research plan, what factors do you consider when designing experiments to answer research questions?
  • Which statistical analysis tools are you proficient with, and what experience do you have analyzing data and interpreting results?
  • If you’ve written and published research papers, how have you ensured that your findings are accurately conveyed to others?
  • When you presented your research to a non-technical audience, how did you adapt your presentation so that it was understandable?
  • In order to ensure success in your research, what are some of the biggest challenges you face?
  • What steps did you take to resolve an issue you encountered during an experiment?
  • How did you contribute to a successful research project you were a part of? What role did you play?
  • Describe how you keep up-to-date with new research methods and technologies and how you incorporate them into your work.
  • How do you ensure effective communication and teamwork when collaborating with other researchers or professionals in your field?

Need help hiring a Research Scientist?

We match top professionals with great employers across the country. From filling urgent job openings to developing long-term hiring strategies, our team is here to help. Review our staffing solutions, browse our award-winning Staffing Corner blog, or call today. We look forward to connecting with you soon.

Browse A-Z Job Descriptions