Research Associate Career Path

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Research Associate Career Path

Research associates are the people who make sure that research is done correctly. They perform tasks that are too complex for non-experts or provide support to the experts in their work. This is a fascinating career path with many varied opportunities and responsibilities. Here’s more about what you can expect if you consider this field of study.

1. What Is a Research Associate?

Research Associates are people who make sure that research is done correctly. They perform tasks that are too complex for non-experts or provide support to the experts in their work.

Research associates help conduct experiments and other types of research by performing tasks that fall outside the expertise of others involved in the process: either because it would take too long to train someone new or because it’s just not possible for an outsider to do so do them.

Some research associates work in scientific laboratories carrying out experiments. The rest of them are employed by companies developing new products, supporting their R&D department, or creating new services for customers.

They could also be employed by government bodies dealing with public health issues, medical testing, or environmental protection. This career path is flourishing as research projects become more complex.

Journalists looking for information or images can also call on a research associate’s expertise. They provide support to researchers and sit on the regulatory committees that examine the ethical implications of new studies.

2. What Does a Research Associate Do?

Research associates perform a variety of tasks, including

  • Conducting experiments involving animals or human beings;
  • Researching topics under study by scientists to find the information they need;
  • Summarising their conclusions in an easily accessible way for other people working on the same project. This is not always easy, as research findings are often presented in a rather complicated manner.
  • Giving presentations to explain their work to people who are not familiar with the subject;
  • Preparing documents for research projects, including reports, studies, and proposals.
  • Compiling statistics which helps researchers understand how well their experiments have worked.
  • Collaborating on research teams by communicating with other team members and drawing up plans of action.
  • Doing administrative tasks such as drafting reports, invoices, and expense claims.

3. What Skills Are Needed to Become a Research Associate?

To succeed as a research associate, you should have the ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds and educational levels. In addition to your primary responsibilities, you might also need to take on tasks as they’re assigned. This may include anything from helping conduct an experiment or survey to creating documentation that needs to be submitted for peer review.

You should also have excellent problem-solving skills. You will need to be able to identify issues that arise in the course of an experiment or study, which may require coming up with solutions on your own. Many organizations prefer people who are good at identifying problems and finding resolutions.

Research associates should also be excellent communicators. They need to be comfortable working with a wide range of people from scientists to journalists and may need to give presentations or even teach others about topics that are new to them.

4. What Are the Education Requirements?

The formal education requirement for this position is a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, many employers prefer candidates with relevant experience; they may even require previous post-secondary education and work experience (R&D) in research and development (R&D).

Graduate degrees in relevant disciplinary areas such as biology, chemistry, physics, or information technology are also helpful. Some companies expect applicants to have completed a master’s degree or Ph.D. in fields such as computer science.

To be competitive, you will need to know about the company and its R&D department to make sure your application is relevant and up to date with what it is looking for.

5. How Much Does a Research Associate Earn?

Salaries in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries vary greatly. Some research associates earn salaries in line with those of other employees holding a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering, ranging from $40 000 to $60 000 a year depending on seniority and location.

Research associates generally expect their salaries to be at the higher end of that scale. Some research associates, especially those working toward a Ph.D. or master’s degree in their field, may earn less than $40 000 per year.

6. What Are the Career Prospects?

The career path for biotechnology and pharmaceutical research associates can be pretty complex. Although many people start as research associates, they can become scientists, managers, professors, or consultants.

Even after starting their careers, it is not uncommon for research associates to change companies or even industries. One of the benefits of this type of job is that you can work in different areas and learn about new technologies.

All these factors mean that your career path is primarily determined by your ability to gain the necessary experience and knowledge. Because of this, there are no specific guidelines to follow.

Studies show that many research associates eventually become scientists or managers.

7. What Is the Job Outlook for a Research Associate?

The job outlook for research associates is good. Although many factors influence the number of positions available in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical device companies, it is expected to increase in the future. For example, over the next decade, it is predicted that biomedical R&D will grow by 15 percent under current circumstances.

Many factors could impact the job market. The American federal government has proposed several changes to the country’s policies and laws, including lowering drug costs for pharmaceuticals, which may have a positive or negative impact on biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies’ hiring practices.

In general, though, it is expected that demand for research associates will continue to grow as the economy expands.

8. What Should I Do After Research Associate?

After working as a research associate, you can move into other roles within the same company or industry. You may be able to apply what you have learned in your previous job to become a scientist, manager, professor, or consultant.

Some people choose to continue their studies by entering research programs offered by universities. You could also advance your education by taking courses in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, or medical devices.

The skills that you gain as a research associate will also be helpful if you decide to work for the government or start your own business related to health care.

You can find more information on careers in science and engineering by visiting the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO is an agency of the United Nations that aims to promote opportunities for women and men through providing information on education, skills development, and jobs.

9. Where Do Research Associates Work?

Research associates work for many large companies, but they are also employed by universities and other research institutions.

You could find employment in the United States or abroad. The majority of people working as research associates are located in developed countries.

Typically, research associates work in offices during regular business hours, although some locations do require employees to work overtime or on weekends.

The jobs can be physically demanding. You may need to perform tasks that require great attention to detail in less than ideal working conditions, such as in a laboratory or manufacturing site.

Top industries for a research associate to work

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Academic institutions
  • Medical device industry

Top companies for research associates to work

  • Merck & Co. Inc.
  • Gilead Sciences, Inc.
  • Bristol Myers Squibb Company
  • Amgen Inc.
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Eli Lilly and Company.

10. Best Colleges to Study to Become a Research Associate

Graduates who are interested in becoming research associates can choose from a wide range of fields, which include health care, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and electronic equipment, among others.

Many college courses are offered at graduate and undergraduate levels that cover the significant aspects of being a good researcher. Following are some of the colleges you can consider:

  • Lamar University
  • Brigham Young University
  • San Jose State University
  • Sacramento State University, CA State University – Sacramento
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
  • Amarillo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


So, what does a research associate do? A research associate helps researchers conduct experiments and gather data. They may also work on developing new methods or technologies for research purposes. The career path of a research associate can be gratifying because it allows you to help others learn and advance knowledge in your field of expertise. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a research associate, start by getting a degree in biology, chemistry, or another scientific discipline. It would help if you also got experience conducting laboratory experiments and working with data. With the proper training and experience, you can become a valuable member of any research team.

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