PhD in Medicinal Chemistry: Salary & Jobs

Feb 20, 2018

A PhD in Medicinal Chemistry equips students for several different high-paying jobs in science. Find out about some of these jobs, their median salaries and expected job growth rates.

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There are several advanced scientific careers that may require or utilize a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry. Most of these careers involve a research component, rely heavily on chemistry and offer higher-than-average salaries. Learn about some of the different career opportunities for those with a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry.

Career Options for a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Epidemiologists $70,820 9%
Medical Scientists $80,530 13%
Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary $76,750 10%
Chemists $73,740 6%
Biochemists and Biophysicists $82,180 11%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

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Career Information for Medicinal Chemistry Jobs Requiring a PhD


Epidemiologists need at least a master's degree, but many of these professionals hold an advanced degree, like a PhD. A background in medicinal chemistry may help these scientists study and understand patterns of diseases and other medical conditions and work towards implementing solutions to treat and/or prevent diseases. Epidemiologists collect biological samples and other data to analyze and then present their findings in reports to the public, health officials and policymakers. Their findings often have implications for and influence on public health programs and policies.

Medical Scientists

Medical scientists usually hold a PhD or medical degree, and one in medicinal chemistry is easily applicable to a career researching ways to improve human health. These scientists are heavily involved in clinical trials and other health-related research testing new drugs and medical devices, studying human diseases and examining health programs. They often test medical samples, help develop manufacturing methods for drugs and even standardize drug potencies and dosages. Medical scientists may need to pursue grant funding for their research and must ensure safety procedures are followed in the laboratory.

Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary

Most professionals in any field with their PhD have the option to work as a postsecondary educator in their discipline. Those with a background in medicinal chemistry may work as chemistry teachers in universities and other postsecondary institutions while conducting their own independent research in their field. Working as a teacher at this level requires them to develop their own lesson plans, assignments and exams for each course that they teach, as well as possibly advising undergraduates and supervising graduate students throughout their studies, depending on the institution. Teachers at this level may also be asked to hold office hours to meet with students and/or serve on different committees for their department or institution.


Chemists can enter the field with a bachelor's or master's degree, but a PhD is typically needed for advanced research positions. Some of these chemists may choose to specialize in medicinal chemistry to study and help develop new drugs and treatments. They do this by examining chemical compounds and figuring out new ways to use them in medicine and/or other products. Their work usually requires extensive testing of drugs and they work with teams of engineers and other scientists to figure out safe and efficient ways to manufacture drugs.

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Like chemists, most advanced research positions for biochemists and biophysicists require a PhD, but positions at the entry-level are available that only require a bachelor's or master's degree. These scientists specialize in studying the chemical and physical properties of various biological processes, which many then apply to the field of medicine, similar to medicinal chemists. They may examine DNA, proteins, diseases and other biological factors to learn how they are affected by different chemicals and drugs. Their research is presented in technical reports for the scientific community and can be applied to advance the field of medicine as well as other fields like agriculture.

A PhD is typically required for advanced research positions in careers involving chemistry, and those with a background in medicinal chemistry may focus their work in the field of medicine. According to the BLS, most of these positions offer median salaries greater than $70,000 per year.

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