Companies involved in research and development (R and D) employ scientists, but they also need to fill many other R and D jobs, including those for statisticians, data managers, regulatory specialists, QA managers and others who support those who make scientific breakthroughs, apply discoveries and bring new products to market.
An R and D career typically revolves around one of three activities: conducting basic research, applying research findings or developing new products. The vast majority of jobs in R and D are found in physics, engineering or life sciences. Only about 12 percent of R and D job opportunities are found in economics, sociology, anthropology and psychology.
R and D Job Market
Several factors will influence the number of R and D jobs going forward. In the biotechnology industry, pharmaceutical companies have a record number of products in the pipeline as they seek to replace revenue lost from expiring drug patents. That pressure will keep merger-and-acquisition activity high, Life Science Digest predicts.
In 2012, federal government spending on R and D will drop while industrial and academic spending will rise, R&D Magazine predicts. Defense industry R and D jobs could be influenced by a $2.5 billion spending cut in Defense Department-funded research, the magazine says.Between 2010 and 2020, R and D employment will be quite robust, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts. It predicts:
Medical scientist jobs will grow 36 percent.
Biochemist and biophysicist jobs will grow 31 percent.
Physicist jobs and astronomer jobs will grow 14 percent.
Statistician jobs will grow 14 percent.
Chemist and materials scientist jobs will grow 4 percent.
R and D Salaries
Scientist salaries are typically tied to the amount of education needed for the particular job, with the highest salaries going to those with advanced degrees.
The mean salary for all life sciences R and D jobs was $76,140, the BLS says.
Statisticians working in R and D earned mean salaries of $86,370 in 2011, the BLS says.
The median salary for a clinical data manager working in R and D is $66,800, according to online salary database PayScale.com. Regulatory specialists in R and D earned a median of $55,900 and regulatory affairs directors in R and D earned a median of $146,000, PayScale reports.
QA managers'median salary was $89,500 in 2012, the American Society for Quality (ASQ) reports. Having ASQ certification may boost a quality manager's salary by $10,000, the ASQ says.