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In this Career Guidance series, we will discuss scientific careers in the biopharma and biotech industries. This initial post focuses on the Medical Science Liaison position. In the industry, this position serves as a representative of pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies. They interface with medical and scientific stakeholders with a goal of disseminating complex information about their companies to the public. Learn about the vital role of medical science liaisons and what it takes to become successful in this rewarding field. Get insights into job responsibilities, qualifications, salary, and more!

What is a Medical Science Liaison?

A Medical Science Liaison (MSL) is a highly specialized role within the pharmaceutical industry that functions as a representative of a pharmaceutical, contract research organization, or biotechnology company that interfaces with the scientific and medical communities. MSLs are responsible for providing scientific and/or medical support to healthcare professionals. As a result, they must possess a strong understanding of medical and scientific principles to effectively communicate with healthcare professionals.

The job requirements for an MSL typically include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in STEM including but not limited to biochemistry, biological sciences, chemistry, pharmacy, pharmacology, medicine, or engineering. After obtaining an undergraduate degree, MSLs obtain an advanced degree, such as a Ph.D., PharmD, or a clinical degree as an MD, RN, NP, or Physician’s Assistant. MSLs must have excellent communication skills and be able to effectively present scientific and medical information. These responsibilities require MSLs to travel extensively and spend almost 50-75% of their time in field-based activities such as scientific conferences worldwide.

When you search for these positions listed throughout the world using Google, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and other job listings you will find that MSLs are often considered part of the Scientific Affairs, Medical Affairs, or Global Affairs teams at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Therefore, search for these titles that are related to Medical Science Liaison:

  • Clinical Liaisons
  • Medical Liaisons
  • Medical Managers
  • Regional Scientific Managers
  • Scientific Affairs Managers

Salaries and Benefits for Medical Science Liaisons

Salaries for Medical Science Liaison positions vary depending on the company and the geographical region but typically range from $96,654 to $135,216 (Salary.com, 2023). Depending on geographic location and job requirements, some roles are advertised in ranges from $180,000 to $200,000 in the United States of America. Salary and benefits are dependent on the company.  

Job Responsibilities of a Medical Science Liaison

Job Responsibilities of a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) include establishing, building, and maintaining collaborative relationships with disease management experts, investigators, institutions, and other key external stakeholders by providing disease state education and communicating the clinical value of the bio-therapeutic platform. Engaging in peer-to-peer scientific exchange of complex clinical and scientific information with disease experts.

In this role, MSLs establish, build, and maintain collaborative relationships with disease management experts, investigators, institutions, and other key external stakeholders by providing disease state education and communicating the clinical value of the bio-therapeutic platform. MSLs engage in a peer-to-peer scientific exchange of complex clinical and scientific information with disease experts, as well as delivering scientifically credible and consistent value-based information to public and private payer segments.

Additionally, MSLs are responsible for developing and delivering clinical/scientific presentations to internal and external groups that are tailored to the specific audience. MSLs also work closely with other field-based employees and cross-functional partners to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the company goals and industry. All these responsibilities make MSLs invaluable assets to the industry.

Medical Science Liaison Qualifications and Education

Education requirements for Medical Science Liaisons typically call for an advanced degree such as a doctorate degree (PharmD, MD, DO, Ph.D.) or clinical degree (NP, PA, or RN) with experience in medical or scientific communications.

Medical/Scientific Expertise

Experience in multiple diseases is an asset. Including product launch experience and experience or specialization in multiple therapeutic areas including understanding the treatment and competitive landscape for specific diseases, therapeutics, and medical devices.

Communication Skills

Excellent written and oral communication skills are imperative. Including the ability to anticipate and adapt to rapid changes within the company and industry.  Strong interpersonal skills coupled with the desire to work closely with partners, investigators, contractors, consultants, and team members cross-functionally are essential to success. MSLs also possess an entrepreneurial spirit that provides them with the ability to work independently while collaboratively engaging with the Field-based team members to complete tasks in a timely fashion. Excellent organizational skills, with an ability to embrace change.

Career Opportunities for Medical Science Liaisons in the Pharmaceutical Industry

MSLs are responsible for maintaining relationships with key opinion leaders (KOLs) and other healthcare professionals. Additional opportunities enable MSLs to conduct and interpret research that can be disseminated to the public. Therefore, MSLs must have an in-depth understanding of the scientific and medical aspects of the disease areas they are responsible for, as well as strong communication and collaboration skills. Working on these skills is critical and most candidates for MSL positions develop these skills in pursuit of their degrees. Be sure to emphasize this in your applications and provide evidence of these skills with your scientific and medical communications.

MSLs are at the forefront of industry research and play an important role in the development of new treatments and therapies. Functioning as the first point of contact between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals, they are responsible for providing information about the company’s products and services. In a way, medical science liaisons can take on pseudo-marketing roles for their respective pharmaceutical companies.

MSLs are in high demand in the pharmaceutical industry and these roles offer an exciting career opportunity for those who are passionate about medical and scientific communications. Working as an MSL provides the opportunity to make a real impact on patient accessibility to novel therapeutics and devices, while also engaging in meaningful research and collaboration.

The career path of a Medical Science Liaison:

  • Advanced Degree (Ph.D., PharmD, MD, DO, RN, PA, Nurse Practitioner, etc.)
  • Medical Science Liaison
  • Senior Medical Science Liaison
  • Medical Manager/Medical Advisor
  • National Medical Director
  • Global Medical Director

How to Find Medical Science Liaison Entry-Level Positions

Aspiring Medical Science Liaisons can find entry-level positions in the pharmaceutical industry by leveraging their experience in the following positions:

  • Medical Affairs
  • Medical Communications
  • Medical Writing
  • Regulatory Affairs/Regulatory Specialists/Regulatory Scientists
  • Scientific Affairs
  • Scientific Communications
  • Scientific Writing

When searching for an entry-level position as a medical science liaison, it is important to have a strong understanding of the industry and the qualifications necessary for the job. For instance, having experience in medical writing, drug development manufacturing, laboratory compliance, and scientific presentations can be helpful in securing entry-level positions.

Additionally, having a strong background in scientific affairs, medical affairs, and FDA regulations can also be beneficial. It is also important to demonstrate an understanding of the industry to potential employers, as this will help them to determine if you are a good fit for the job.


In conclusion, Medical Science Liaisons (MSL) are a vital part of the pharmaceutical industry, and their roles and responsibilities are essential to the development and success of the industry. MSLs have a broad range of responsibilities, from providing medical and scientific expertise to healthcare professionals to conducting research and developing educational materials. They also require specific qualifications and education to become an MSL. The salary of an MSL is competitive, and there are many opportunities for career advancement.

With the increasing demand for MSLs, there are many entry-level positions available for those interested in this field. The future of MSLs looks promising, and their continued presence is necessary for the success of the pharmaceutical industry. Luckily, non-profit professional societies such as The Medical Science Liaison Society exist for MSLs to obtain career training, resources, and events that positively shape professional development.

With the right qualifications, education, and experience, anyone can become a Medical Science Liaison and establish a rewarding, successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. If you are a Medical Science Liaison and want to share more about your experience, contact us!


  1. The Medical Science Liaison Society Career Center Job Listings for MSLs. < http://careercenter.themsls.org/ >.
  2. Moss, R. J., & Black, J. (2013). Health Care Professionals’ Expectations of the Medical Science Liaison: A Blinded Survey. Therapeutic innovation & regulatory science, 47(2), 203–208. https://doi.org/10.1177/2168479012470649.
  3. García García, C., Riosalido Montero, M., Sastre, V., González Del Castillo, A., & Matesanz Marín, A. (2023). The Medical Science Liaison Role in Spain: Opinion of the Commercial Department Personnel. Therapeutic innovation & regulatory science, 1–10. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s43441-023-00533-1.
  4. Tomiyasu, M., Hayashi, K., Moritsugu, Y., Miyachi, N., Iwamoto, K., Nitta, M., Mori, M., & Iwasaki, K. (2020). Proposal of Standard for Medical Science Liaison (MSL) Profession in Japan: A Viewpoint from the Japanese Association of Pharmaceutical Medicine (JAPhMed). Pharmaceutical medicine34(5), 315–326. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40290-020-00355-8.
  5. Salary.com. Medical Science Liaison Position Salary in the United States of America. Accessed on July 2, 2023. < https://www.salary.com/research/salary/listing/medical-science-liaison-salary >.