What does a Principal Research Assistant do?

Professors and scientists who conduct large research projects at universities and colleges often need help completing the large amount of research involved in their studies. Research assistants are the ones who do most of the experimentation and data-gathering in these large scientific and medical studies. As a research assistant, you're guided by the head of research to perform experiments and collect data essential to the study. You may also responsible for some administrative assistant duties in. Current graduate students often become research assistants while they finish their studies, and research assistants may eventually become professors or researchers themselves.

A bachelor's degree in a related field of study is usually required. Research assistants must also understand lab safety and techniques. They must have sufficient relative experience to be able to perform research independently and without major guidance.

What responsibilities are common for Principal Research Assistant jobs?
  • Collect research data through experimentation, surveys and the leading of focus groups
  • Enter data into computer databases and other software
  • Provide maintenance and calibration for lab equipment on a regular basis
  • Design experiments and focus groups to gather the collection of data as determined by the head of research
  • Lead smaller projects that are parts of the main study
  • Schedule appointments with test subjects over the phone and through email
  • Help other lab technicians perform experiments related to the study
  • Perform administrative tasks such as managing test subject records, answering phone calls and scheduling lab maintenance
What are the typical qualifications for Principal Research Assistant jobs?
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office programs and an interest in continued knowledge of technology as it evolves
  • Ability to work alone and as part of a large research team
  • At least one year of related research experience preferred
  • Comfortable performing experiments alone without close guidance or supervision
  • Excellent communication skills in verbal and written formats
  • You have a keen eye for detail and organization
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule including both days and nights performing research or data entry
  • Desire to perform accurate and ethical research to achieve results for the study
  • Ability to negotiate and openness to learning new ways of performing research
EducationGraduate Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.9 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.8 ★
Avg. Experience2-4 years

How much does a Principal Research Assistant make?

Confident
$111,405 /yr
Total Pay
$88,222
 /yr

Base Pay

+
$23,183
 /yr

Additional Pay

$111,405

 / yr
$68K$185K
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
See More Insights

Principal Research Assistant Career Path

Learn how to become a Principal Research Assistant, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Lead Research Assistant
$46,108/yr
Principal Research Assistant
$111,405/yr
Principal Research Assistant

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
0%
2 - 4
50%
5 - 7
43%
8+
7%
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Principal Research Assistant Insights

Read what Principal Research Assistant professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
IsGlobalIsGlobal
Graduate Research Assistant
Jun 18, 2020

“Another aspect of the job which I liked is the flexible working hours and salary.”

UC San Diego HealthUC San Diego Health
Staff Research Associate I
Aug 30, 2022

“Amazing opportunity to do research and work with some of the best minds in the world”

Northwestern UniversityNorthwestern University
Graduate Research Assistant
Aug 9, 2021

“Ability to work with really solid labs and get a high impact paper if you want/are lucky”

23andMe23andMe
Research Associate
Apr 12, 2021

“Best culture of any job I've had in my career; Anne is amazing and this is truly such an amazing place to work”

UBSUBS
Research Associate
Jul 24, 2022

“WLB good enough to me (better than expected); line manager and leaderships are really helpful.”

HomeLLCHomeLLC
Research Associate
May 18, 2021

“If you're good at what you do then it's a good place to grow with.”

Salk InstituteSalk Institute
Research Assistant II/Lab Manager
Jun 14, 2021

“Definitely a good "stepping stone" in your career development but expect to work hard and long hours.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Research Assistant
Dec 2, 2021

“Not fair to everyone and personal relationship is what makes most important to go ahead in your career.”

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Principal Research Assistant Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of research assistants

A typical day for research assistants might involve delving through primary and secondary sources to assist their employers with research papers and theses. They analyze statistics and compile derivative data to prove or disprove a theory. Research assistants are supervised by research fellows who evaluate their performance.

Being a research assistant is a good career for Ph.D. students. It's a stepping stone to a bright academic career. Professors and research fellows often cite research assistants who provide seminal contributions in research papers. An advantage of being a research assistant is the opportunity to refine one's academic writing skills.

Research assistants usually get paid enough to finance their basic student needs. The average annual salary for a research assistant is about $111,405 per year. Financial compensation isn't the only measure of success. Recognition and accolades are their own rewards and professors are generous with helpful research assistants.

Working as a research assistant has some difficult aspects, for example it may involve working long hours. Another challenge of being a research assistant is contributing your time and effort to someone else's academic success with only the hope that your work opens the door to future opportunities. But becoming a research assistant is a great opportunity job for diligent students who envision a career in academia or scholarly research.

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