Medical Science Liaison (MSL) Training: Salary and Career Facts

A medical science liaison (MSL) is a healthcare consultant employed by pharmaceutical companies, managed care programs or insurance companies. Find out about the experience and education you'll need for this position, and get information on job growth and salary projections. Learn about certification for MSLs. Schools offering Biomedical Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Medical science liaisons typically have experience in the medical field before deciding to pursue employment in this career. You can often find training through various businesses, including pharmaceutical companies. There is a certification program available to help you improve your knowledge of this rapidly growing career.

Responsibilities Working with medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance agencies with regards to new medical treatments
Training Internships and training programs are available through various medical facilities and businesses
Median Salary (2015) $113,263 per year

Source: PayScale.com

What Is a Medical Science Liaison?

Medical science liaisons (MSLs) are individuals who work with pharmaceutical companies, medical staff and insurance companies to provide expertise about specific medications and treatment protocols. They have the scientific and medical expertise to relate to physicians and other medical professionals as peers, but they also have the ability to translate information into digestible counseling for patients.

How Do I Prepare for This Career?

Although it is theoretically possible to transition from a career as a pharmaceutical sales representative or an unrelated job to the role of a medical science liaison, this is extremely uncommon. Instead, the vast majority of MSLs have an advanced degree related to medicine along with extensive experience as medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists or clinical researchers.

You should consider completing an internship with a pharmaceutical company or a biotechnological firm to gain insider expertise into the industry. You should also stay abreast of clinical trials for new medications or 'off-label' applications of established medications. Develop your speaking skills by making presentations at conferences that emphasize the relationship between prescribing medications and promoting human health.

Commercial organizations offer training programs for medical professionals who wish to develop training specifically related to becoming a medical science liaison. Pharmaceutical companies also offer extensive training to newly hired medical science liaisons that includes instruction in their own product lines and training in legal and medical regulations relating to the pharmaceutical industry.

How Can I Pursue Professional Certification?

In April 2011, CMR Institute and Scientific Advantage launched a training program for medical science liaisons already working in the field. The program consists of 24 self-guided modules, each of which requires approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete. The program covers such areas such as managed care, American medical regulations, drug development and business planning. Once you have successfully completed all 24 modules, you earn the Medical Science Liaison Certificate of Professional Competency. You can complete the program online.

What Are My Salary and Career Prospects?

Although entry into this field is extremely competitive, career prospects for medical service liaisons have grown strongly and are expected to continue to grow. Additional regulations imposed upon the pharmaceutical industry will be a major factor driving the need for trained MSLs. Job growth for some medical professions are expected to be among the fastest growing industries between 2012 and 2022 as Baby Boomers become older and develop age-related health problems, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Entry-level MSLs could expect to earn a median salary of $113,263 as of July 2015, according to Payscale.com.

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