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Medical Scientists Job Outlook

Employment of medical scientists is expected to increase by 36 percent between 2010 and 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Ongoing medical research, as well as an increased reliance on pharmaceuticals, will likely maintain current levels of demand for medical scientists. A growing and aging population also is expected to increase demand for these scientists.

Most employment growth for medical scientists over the next 10 years will likely be in private industry. Demand has increased because medical scientists’ expertise is needed in developing prescription drugs and other biomedical tools. Pharmaceutical companies and other firms whose work is not just in biotechnology have adopted biotechnology techniques in their other work, thus creating employment for medical scientists.

Employment also should grow as a result of an expected expansion in research related to illnesses such as AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Treatment problems, such as antibiotic resistance, also should spur growth. Moreover, environmental conditions, such as overcrowding and the increasing frequency of international travel, will spread existing diseases and give rise to new ones. Medical scientists will continue to be needed because they contribute to the development of treatments and medicines that improve human health.

The federal government is a major source of funding for medical research. Large budget increases at the National Institutes of Health in the early part of the decade led to increases in federal basic research and development spending, with research grants growing both in number and dollar amount. However, the increase in spending slowed substantially in recent years. Going forward, the level of federal funding will continue to impact competition for winning and renewing research grants.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition