How Much Do Cancer Researchers Make?

November 14, 2023

Cancer is a terrible disease, but thanks to medically trained professionals like cancer researchers, we now have better ways to detect it and prevent it. They work to develop and test drugs that can help people overcome this devastating illness, as well as study its causes and progress. They are considered medical scientists and usually work in labs for universities or hospitals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports that the median annual salary for a medical scientist, which includes cancer researchers, is $107,270 as of 2020. This equates to an hourly rate of $54. Those who pursue doctoral degrees often earn higher salaries.

A college-educated professional can prepare for a career as a cancer researcher with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, pre-med or another life sciences field. They can also look for paid post-baccalaureate fellowships to gain hands-on experience in a research laboratory.

Those who decide to go to graduate school can take a master’s degree in a science such as pharmacology, molecular biology or genetics. Then they can choose to get a PhD in their area of interest.

The PhD takes around seven or eight years to complete, and requires writing a dissertation based on original research. Some cancer researchers choose to go to medical school, which will make them a licensed physician and give them the opportunity to play an active role in administering their own treatments to patients in clinical trials. This type of translational research seeks to accelerate the process of moving discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic.

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