How to Become a Research Assistant?

In this era of technological advancements, changes are constant. Thanks to civilization, people today look at changes as a source of inspiration and motivation to upgrade their lives. People prefer betterment and advancements with the help of which they can, in turn, increase their productivity. It is because they are continuously looking for better options available to replace the old ones. It dates back to the time when machines replaced manual work as a result, efficiency shot up. Thus, knowledge is the key to many innovations and inventions. For this to happen, ground knowledge of subjects of their interests is required, hence research plays a vital role. Here we will see about How to Become a Research Assistant?

How to Become a Research Assistant?

Research refers to the systematic study of materials, information and sources available to establish facts and to reach new conclusions which aid the process of development and progress. Research work consists of scientists and experts who aim to tackle or resolve a problem by innovating better options that are efficient when compared to the existing ones. At times, research work can also end up giving discoveries with great potential and impact that can revolutionize the world. The pandemic has taught us the importance of drugs and vaccines that are now saving the lives of the billions. Thus, Research plays a very important role. A person who assists or helps a research work is a research assistant. A research assistant is a researcher employed by a research institute to assist in academic research. They are sometimes employed by privately-held organizations to aid private research. A good researcher has vast knowledge about the subject of their interest and must always be updated. A researcher must be aware of all the aspects and their limitations. To become a research assistant a degree in a relevant discipline is required.

How to Become a Research Assistant?

PASSION. As simple as that. Research work unlike the other commercial jobs is known for uncertainty. Office jobs are usually timed,  thus a timetable is made which has to be followed. In other jobs, a goal is set which is expected to be completed in given intervals of time, It’s all pre-scheduled because it’s known for its certainty and many have done it and hence get promoted to higher posts. It’s all given, efforts are made and thus the goal is reached. Whereas in research, it’s all about discovering the unknown. It’s all about trial and error methods. It takes a lot of time, patience and effort to just bring about a procedure or a protocol to experiment. Once the experiment is theoretically documented it is sent for approval by the respected authority. It’s a cumbersome process. Approval is given by considering several issues. The work is approved once it meets all the expectations and is promising. Experts and scientists guide the researcher, who is a graduate and has good knowledge of the topic assigned. The researcher is then expected to carry out an experimental analysis of the data and draw a solid conclusion. On the surface, it may appear simple, but it’s not. Experiments can be lengthy, time-consuming and must be diligently carried out with no or minimal error. If a single step in the procedure isn’t done properly the whole experiment can go in vain. It has to be freshly done. Also, everything must precisely follow the protocol given and any deviations from it can be haphazard. A vital part of any successful research is data collection. Information from various sources is collected and scrutinizedT.he data collected acts as a strong foundation thus has to be correct, and convincing because, in the future, when it is presented to the public it has to be based on facts that can be accessed by the peoples, it needs consistent efforts and patience to be a good research assistant. Here are some requirements;

  • Education and experience in a lab setting and analysis tasks.
  • The ability to perform tasks such as gathering information, synthesizing data from different resources.
  • Should perform tasks like fact-checking and quality control.

Types of Research Assistant.

Based on the field of specialization done, there are different types of Research Assistant.

  • Laboratory Research Assistant- They are expected to conduct experiments, compile all the observations thoroughly and draw a conclusion based on the outcomes. The result must be in the lines of the protocol assigned by their senior. They must handle the lab equipment and conduct experiments accurately and efficiently. 
  • Policy Research Assistant- The purpose of policies is to bring about plans that consist of rules and regulations and can help the community or population as a whole.
  • Social Sciences Research Assistant- A graduate with an appropriate degree works as a Social Sciences Research Assistant. Their goal is to work for the betterment of society. Hence, they are connected to governmental and mom non-governmental organizations.
  • Psychology Research Assistant-Psychology is all about mind games. To qualify as a Research assistant in this field one has to deal with a lot of people and their mindset and must be capable of illustrating explicit insights from them. 

Skills required

  • Communication skill- Communication is a basic yet vital component. One must be able to convey their ideas precisely and contribute as a team.
  • Attention to detail- As a researcher, it is given that he/she must be able to grasp the information given and dissect it into finer details to obtain precisely.
  • Critical thinking- The skill to think beyond the surface level and to be able to bring out the intricacies as simple assertions stands important.
  • Technical skills-Advancements and creations go hand in hand. Therefore one must be able to use the technology available to succeed. 
  • Statistical and graphical analysis of data- They play a significant role because they represent a lot of evidence and give away ideas to proceed further. 
  • Ability to maintain quality and safety- Any sort of inventions must be made in favor of people and the community. Thus it must abide by the rules and limitations provided. It must ensure the safety of the lives of people involved and also of the community that consumes them.
  • Planning and scheduling- One must have an idea about the time needed so they can work accordingly.
  • Interviewing- One must also be able to hire a new intern in case of shorthand for the work. 
  • Infection control standards.

What Does a Research Assistant Do?

A research assistant is a graduate student or a professional who assists their senior or authoritative head with tasks such as collecting and managing data. The collection of data varies with the context. For example, research work done in drug or medical industries mainly focuses on the theory available on a particular topic or compound. Thus based on what’s given, experiments are conducted. The research assistant must assist in laboratory testing and analysis. They must also be equipped with the skills required to perform the given research. They must also gather all the necessary information required for the same.

Whereas, research in psychology refers to a set of observations made for particular stimuli by different sets of people. People and their mindset act as a resource here. Based on the impressions made, one can record and analyze data and use them as references. 

How Much Money Does a Research Assistant Make?

According to the pay scale, the average salary for a research assistant is $227,581 as of April 27, 2021. It ranges from $40,211 to $414,952 depending upon their experience level. It is stated that the 10th percentile clinical research assistant salary is $23 per hour in the United States. A person working as a research assistant in India typically earns around INR21,400 to INR33,600.


Working as a research assistant can be a very good stepping stone towards future Ph.D. plans. One must be mentally prepared to face all the obstacles and hindrances. There’s no shortcut. Consistent effort has to be made throughout the journey. One must have bigger aims and a motive thus must be single-mindedly determined to achieve the same. Love for the subject and passion for learning are the key factors without which one cannot fulfill their dreams in the research field. One must work as a team and contribute equally. Failures are inevitable. They are the stepping stones for success thus one must have a strong belief in themselves and the work they are assigned to. A  research assistant must be able to use multiple streams of data to find information. Also, they must be able to evaluate the information based on accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, in terms of importance, social and cultural context.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you need a Ph.D. Degree to be a good research assistant?

 No, A Ph.D. degree isn’t necessary to be a research assistant, In fact, with a Ph.D. degree and work experience, one can be a Research Associate, who supervises and conducts research. To be a research assistant one must know the subject and its limitations. Whereas Ph.D. Degree on the other hand is an advanced form. They are capable of conducting research individually with the degree. Research assistant as a job can be considered as a good stepping stone for higher studies and posts. 

  • How many hours does a Research Assistant Work?

Typically, A Research assistant works for an average of about 20-29 hours per week. It varies depending upon the type of research they are engaged with. Again, it depends on the type of research you are involved in. Scientific experiments should be meticulously done with minimal or zero errors to get the expected results. It doesn’t usually happen at one who. Multiple trials have to be done and hence require an additional amount of work-time. Similarly, people working at policy realms take time to put forward their work which undergoes multiple amendments before execution. 

  • Is a Degree in a science-related subject required to be a research assistant?

No. While most people think of research-based science, they imagine hard sciences like biology and chemistry. However, social sciences like anthropology and sociology are strongly research-based as well. Thus one can be a research assistant in the fields mentioned above.

  •    What is it to be a laboratory research student/assistant? 

Well, a typical day of a research student/assistant begins in a laboratory. Skills to handle equipment and instruments are mandatory. They usually work under the guidance of a senior who is a scientist or an export. They are assigned with experiments and are provided with the protocol. The student must individually perform the experiments and calculations required until they reach the result expected. They are supposed to enter their works in a journal provided which can be accessed by their seniors anytime. They must be accountable for the same. Once they have completed the task, it’s cross-checked and examined. After which, they are assigned other tasks.

  •     When is the right time to become a research assistant?

It purely depends on the interests of the individual. One can start looking for information and opportunities available in topics or subjects of their interest. And it’s an added advantage if your interest and the stream you’ve chosen are related thus you can work things simultaneously. Also, one must read and update themselves constantly. Connect with people who share the same interests as you. You can ask them to help you to clarify your doubts and most of them will be happy to do so. Plan ahead.  Have a clear motive as to why you want to do so. Encourage yourself to try new things. Educate yourself. Attend webinars or events so you get a clear vision. Most of the research programs last for about 2 years of span. Make sure you are well prepared and have the potential to sustain the same. Hard work can never be replaced. Most importantly, make sure you are happy with what you are doing. Happiness is the driving motive to accomplish greatness. Give your hundred effort in everything you do. When the opportunity strikes you can make a strong move. 

How to Become a Research Assistant?

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