Vascular Scientist Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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Vascular scientists earn a higher than average annual income ($90,000 annually for researchers), but is it worth the long hours and continual need to search for grants? Get real job descriptions and salary information and see if this is the right path for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Vascular Scientist Career

A career as a vascular scientist involves planning and carrying out medical studies and working with medical safety trials to establish guidelines. Read on for more information about the pros and cons of this career.

Pros of a Vascular Scientist Research Career
Higher-than-average salary (about $80,000 as of 2014)*
Helping profession, contributing to the betterment of society*
Average job growth expected between 2012-2022*
Potential work locations nationwide, in various settings (school, hospital, lab)**

Cons of a Vascular Scientist Research Career
High stakes, potentially stressful work*
Possibility of working with hazardous materials*
Highly detail-oriented and repetitious work can be tedious*
Isolated work environment with minimal human contact*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **VascularWeb.org.

Career Information

Vascular scientists perform research in an effort to help develop cures and treatments for a variety of blood vessel diseases, including thrombosis and heart diseases. According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, research priorities in this field as of 2011 include comparing the benefits of invasive versus medical solutions for claudication, investigating and developing the best practices for management of chronic venous ulcers and evaluating computed tomography angiograms versus ultrasounds.

Job Duties

Vascular researchers work in labs performing tests, evaluating medical practices, writing reports for use by physicians and interpreting data on the proper treatment and care of vascular disorders. Another task of medical scientists of all types is grant writing to ensure funding for new research projects. Grants can come from organizations like the National Science Foundation or the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Salary Information and Job Outlook

According to the BLS, medical scientist positions were expected to increase by almost 13% in the decade from 2012-2022. It should be noted that competition for top research positions might be fierce due to the increasing number of qualified candidates. A larger number of positions may be available in pharmaceutical science or in medical technology industries.

Medical scientists employed in research applications earned around $80,000 a year as of 2014, per the BLS. The greatest career opportunities are available to those who hold a doctoral degree in their chosen field. These professionals may progress to managing a research laboratory or enter the field of academia where they may have the freedom to pursue their own research interests.

Training and Education Requirements

Vascular research scientists must have experience in a laboratory, which often comes from their graduate studies but can also come from undergraduate assistantships and fellowships in medical research labs. Some medical schools offer such assistantship programs to students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels interested in vascular science research.

To work in a research capacity, a vascular scientist should hold at least a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry or a related field. Those seeking to advance in the profession may want to earn a master's or doctoral degree.

Necessary Skills

In order to get hired as a researcher, you will need to have strict attention to detail and the ability to use common technical software programs and lab equipment. You also need excellent communication and interpersonal skills, since conducting research is largely a team affair. Other important qualities are organizational skills, strong problem-solving capabilities and the ability to follow through on long project assignments.

What Employers are Looking for

If you're scientifically oriented and able to expertly focus and follow directions, you may be able to find a job as a vascular research assistant, teacher or scientist. Here is information from an array of vascular science job postings at all levels that were available online as of June 2012:

  • A Georgia university is seeking an associate or full professor capable of teaching as well as conducting research in the field of vascular biology. Candidates must have established programs funded by the NIH, and preference will be given to those with specialties complementing those of the existing faculty. Individuals may be eligible for tenure.
  • A Tennessee university has assistantships available for students focusing on vascular science research as well as other medical research specialties. Each student in the program works with a medical researcher on a specific project. The assistantships last 8 weeks and may be given to undergraduate or graduate students.
  • A medical school in New York has post-doc fellowships available for Ph.D. graduates in vascular science. Fellowships are available in 6 areas of vascular science research, including metabolic or lifestyle influences on vascular outcomes and vascular bioengineering.
  • The pathology department of a teaching hospital in Boston, MA, is seeking a biomedical researcher in the field of vascular and angiogenesis. Candidates should be able to use and develop new technologies and conduct basic or translational independent research. They must hold a Ph.D. or M.D., if not both.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Medical publications, like the Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis, publish studies detailing the recent innovations in vascular science. As a researcher, getting your work published in peer-reviewed scientific journals can boost your professional standing and make you a strong candidate for grants and jobs. Reading and keeping up with the latest work by others in your profession through these journals can keep you ahead of the curve as well.

Other Fields to Consider

If you are interested in vascular science, but crave a more interactive environment, you may want to consider becoming a vascular surgeon. Surgeons must complete undergraduate programs in the sciences, followed by four years of medical school and a residency focusing on vascular surgery. According to the BLS, surgeons earned a mean income of about $185,000 a year as of 2011.

If you enjoy working in the health field, but are looking for a job with only moderate education and training requirements, you may think about becoming a health educator. The BLS reports that the mean annual income for health educators was about $52,000 as of 2011. Health educators need to have a bachelor's degree in health education and certification from Certified Health Education Specialists, which requires holding a 4-year degree and passing an exam.

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