Medical Science Liaison Jobs: The Best-Kept Secret in the Life Sciences Industry

Doctor writing on notepad with animated healthcare icons surrounding

Do you know what career you want to pursue in the life sciences industry? Due to advancements in healthcare and technology, there are many opportunities available outside of traditional roles in an academic or research environment. We recently interviewed seasoned recruiting and executive search consultants to discover the top 10 non-traditional careers for life science professionals. The feedback we received was very insightful, and we were able to highlight uncommon and interesting positions.

One of the most intriguing entries in our top 10 list was the Medical Science Liaison (MSL) role. According to Dr. Samuel Dyer, CEO of the non-profit The MSL Society, “Medical Science Liaison jobs are one of the best-kept secrets in the industry.” Dr. Dyer also mentioned that the MSL role has exploded in global growth. Based on research done by the MSL Society, the MSL role could grow by 20% in the next 1-2 years and increase by upwards of 35% in Asia and South America. We spoke with Dr. Dyer to find out more about this innovative position.     

What is a Medical Science Liaison?

MSLs act as a bridge between healthcare companies and the physicians actually treating a disease. You can find MSLs in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device organizations. Dr. Dyer notes that Medical Science Liaisons “have the best of both worlds” through their involvement in the latest healthcare advancements and seeing the impact on patient care. MSLs are instrumental in the overall success of an organization and serve as a strategic resource in the lifecycle of a product. Medical Science Liaisons cultivate and maintain relationships with physicians, also known as Key Opinion Leaders, at clinics and research institutions. 

What are the requirements to become one?

The majority of Medical Science Liaisons have a doctorate degree, most commonly a Ph.D., PharmD., or M.D. They must be able to establish and foster relationships with many people, while keeping up with the latest medical advancements. Developing excellent presentation and communication skills are also necessary. MSLs are key contributors to their organization internally and often partner with various departments including marketing, sales, and product development. 

Why are MSL jobs the best-kept secret?

Dr. Dyer shared many benefits of being a Medical Science Liaison. The average starting salary of an MSL is close to $138K annually and the U.S. average salary is just over $160K. MSLs also benefit from having a lot of autonomy to set their own schedule with the option to work from home. They have a high level of visibility throughout their industry and communicate with the top researchers in their field. MSLs are at the forefront of cutting edge scientific innovations and have the ability to travel regularly.

What advice would you give to aspiring MSLs?

It is extremely competitive to become an MSL. Dr. Dyer said that The MSL Society has “launched more than 100 careers of Medical Science Liaisons.” He recommends that candidates educate themselves on the profession and become aware of the resources out there to support their career. Dr. Dyer is also the author of The Medical Science Liaison Career Guide: How to Break into Your First RoleIn addition to reading his book and becoming a member of the MSL Society, he suggests that aspiring MSLs network heavily. Dr. Dyer encourages professionals to be wary of people who claim to be “MSL Experts” and offer false promises. 

Medical Science Liaison roles are great opportunities for life sciences professionals to be involved in ground-breaking research and see how it directly impacts patient care. With the projection of global growth in the MSL field, now could be the perfect time to consider this as a viable option. If you have a doctoral degree and want to pursue this career, educate yourself on the role. Consider joining the MSL Society and begin to network with MSLs. 

Sound intriguing? Find Medical Science Liaison positions on BioSpace's life sciences job board. 

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