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Education and experience are key steps that must be taken on the path to becoming a staff scientist at a research laboratory or university research center. Typically, all of the job functions on the way being named a staff scientist have the prerequisite that a doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) be obtained by the individual. Upon completing this fundamental step, which of course can only be achieved following the obtainment of a bachelor's degree or greater, an individual can begin advancing through various research positions on the path to being appointed as a staff member.
When a research scientist becomes promoted, this professional typically has the support of industry colleagues. The steps that must be taken in order to receive a promotion both in title and in salary may require that the candidate receive written recommendations from his or her peers. Research scientists may take years to prove some theory or develop new methods that can be adopted by an industry, and the promotion process similarly takes time. On the way to become a staff scientist, the wheels may turn slowly simply due to the nature of the industry before an official promotion becomes effective.
In order to become a staff scientist, an individual may need to invest several years as a research scientist at the same science lab or university first. A scientist at the research level will likely work alongside both senior and staff scientists but will likely offer some type of supportive role on projects. It is quite possible that funding for research scientist jobs is limited in comparison with the greater financial stability that may be offered to become a staff scientist.
An individual should expect to serve several years as an associate staff scientist in order to eventually become a staff scientist. At this stage, a research professional should expect to receive a commitment of up to several years from an employer to perform research duties. It is also likely that an industry professional and employer can discuss long-term career expectations, which gives the researcher an opportunity to recognize a goal to become a staff scientist. A scientist in this role can expect to perform research that is more independent in comparison with a research scientist's contribution.
The research performed as an associate staff scientist is what can catapult an individual to become a staff scientist at an employer. Once becoming a staff scientist, a professional can expect to lead projects independently. It is also possible that a staff scientist, who can expect some longevity with an employer, may oversee the progress of other staff members.