A medical researcher studies disease in an attempt to find treatments, prevention, or cures. These positions are highly technical and require a great deal of education. Preparing to become a medical researcher can begin in grade school, though many people begin the serious study of biology in college. Most medical research jobs require advanced degrees, though it is possible to find positions at research labs that only require four years of study.
A child who wishes to become a medical researcher should begin preparing for this possible career early. Taking science classes in school helps to build a strong foundation of knowledge that more difficult college classes can build upon. It is also a good idea for these students to participate in science-related activities such as science fairs. A brilliant science fair experiment can make it easier to get into a good university and can also lead to scholarships.
In college, the next step in order to become a medical researcher is to complete an undergraduate degree in a field that leads into medical research. Biology and pre-med are two degrees that will best prepare a student for a career in medical research, though it is often possible to get into an advanced degree program in biology or medicine with an undergraduate degree in another field of science. While completing this degree, students can get hands-on experience in the field of medical research by interning or volunteering at a medical research facility.
For some jobs in medical research, this four-year degree may be enough. Technicians and laboratory staff do not always need an advanced degree, though there is not much room for advancement in this field without a doctoral degree. In many cases, however, a person will need to get an advanced degree in biology or medicine in order to become a medical researcher. Though not all medical researchers are also medical doctors, researchers who perform trials on human subjects also need to complete medical school.
While studying in an advanced degree program, another step required in order to become a medical researcher is the selection of a specialty. The specialty may be centered on a single structure in the body, such as diseases of the brain, or a type of disease, such as cancer. A specialty in viruses or bacteria may also give a researcher specific knowledge that will be helpful when developing treatments for diseases caused by these microorganisms.