What does a Principal Research Scientist do?

Research scientists are responsible for the investigation of deficits within scientific knowledge. They devise, formulate, and execute investigative protocols and disseminate their insights through the publishing of findings in authoritative publications and documents. They are responsible for securing sufficient and pertinent funding to supplement finances, and they conduct in-house research and presentations; they spearhead data collection and interpretation and work as co-chairs for joint research undertakings.

Research scientists conduct laboratory-based experiments and trials and work in many fields including medicine, political science, computer science, and environmental science. They plan and conduct experiments that become topics of research papers and reports. They collect samples and carry out other types of field research and monitor their experiments by recording and analyzing the data. They demonstrate their procedures and remain current on new developments in scientific research. Research scientists will need a master’s degree in their field of research and to have been previously published in authoritative outlets.

What responsibilities are common for Principal Research Scientist jobs?
  • Initiate, execute and manage validations for new and established methods.
  • Help manage external teams in development of product formulations.
  • Author and review batch records, protocols, data, and reports.
  • Partner with team to review production costs, quality, and demand.
  • Help guide new and junior team members within the lab.
  • Summarize all project work in a formal end report.
  • Communicate effectively to staff and key partners and stakeholders.
  • Actively participate in a culture of safe work practices.
  • Review data, data notebooks, logbooks, and reports to ensure highest quality.
  • Provide thought leadership and technical support on client projects.
  • Design and execute key experiments to achieve program goals.
  • Able to oversee and participate in a large project portfolio.
  • Keep department supervisor and/or manager updated on all issues.
  • Develop test cases and code to validate new features.
What are the typical qualifications for Principal Research Scientist jobs?
  • Bachelor's or Graduate's Degree in business, business administration, computer science, engineering, or optical engineering or relevant experience.
  • Pays strict attention to detail and is comfortable with critical thinking and decision making.
  • Experience with Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel, and Word.
  • Use leadership skills to consult, collaborate, and problem solve.
  • Familiar with natural language processing, deep learning, and able to lead clinical decision support needs.
  • Easily applies statistics to work on a daily basis.
  • Able to utilize skills in experimental design.
EducationGraduate Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.7 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.5 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

How much does a Principal Research Scientist make near United States?

$216,727 /yr
Total Pay

Base Pay


Additional Pay


 / yr
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Principal Research Scientist Career Path

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

Principal Research Scientist
Senior Principal Research Scientist
Principal Research Scientist

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
2 - 4
5 - 7
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Principal Research Scientist Insights

Read what Principal Research Scientist professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Safe Engineering Services & technologiesSafe Engineering Services & technologies
Research Scientist
Oct 14, 2021

“Consistent and good sized raises offered so I can focus on the work and that work is rewarded.”

Research Scientist
Nov 23, 2022

“The long term goals are limitless and anyone could find a great career path here.”

Finless FoodsFinless Foods
Scientist 1
Jun 8, 2023

“My projects are really interesting and I'm getting a lot of experience unrelated to my background”

Rules-Based MedicineRules-Based Medicine
Associate Scientist
Jun 28, 2022

“Lower levels are welcoming and friendly but the actions of upper reminds you profit comes first at the end of the day.”

Fate TherapeuticsFate Therapeutics
Research Scientist
Sep 5, 2022

“level managers (starting from Principle scientist and goes all the way to the top).”

Thermo Fisher ScientificThermo Fisher Scientific
Feb 12, 2023

“The supervisors I had were great and pushed me and guided me to grow in my career.”

Oct 31, 2021

“People who are new to the industry leave quickly because there are better opportunities to learn and advance your career.”

Field Scientist
Apr 20, 2023

“My pay rise and bonus was actually a pay cut overall so I didn't hang around.”

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Principal Research Scientist Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of research scientists

A typical day for a Research scientists involves spending the majority of the work day developing and administering experiments. In addition to monitoring experiments, they record and analyze data, write reports and research papers, collect samples, and complete various types of field work. They are often responsible for supervising junior staff members.

Research science is a great career for those looking to improve the world, or even just their field of interest. The fields available for research science are numerous, so there is potential to have a niche job in this career, tailored to your skills and interests.

Yes, successful research scientists get paid well. The average base pay of a research scientist in the United States is $216,727 per year, but their salary can vary depending on location and experience. Highly experienced data analysts can make up to $274,086 per year.

Working as a research scientist can be challenging at time as they occasionally have to work outside of the typical 9-5 work day when conducting research experiments that need to be monitored. This can include longer hours during the work week or weekends.

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Principal Research Scientist Jobs