A Prescription For Success

Finding career opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry

an R&D chemist at Novartis. He has worked with his fellow graduate students to form Howard’s first student chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, a nonprofit organization of more than 13,000 industry professionals. The goal is to provide greater opportunities to more black students.

“As anyone knows coming out of graduate school, you’re looking for a job,” says Collier, who conducts doctoral research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and works as a clinical research assistant at Howard University Hospital. “Going to the AAPS meetings and informing people that you are graduating, and that you have these abilities, skills, and experiences, is one of the better ways to do that.”

CAREER OPTIONS
The career paths in the pharmaceutical industry are multifaceted.Depending on your education, work experience, and willingness to learn,there are several career options:

Science Jobs

  • Lab Technician: This is an entry-level job. Biological and chemical technicians play an important part in research and development of new medicines. Duties include operating and maintaining laboratory equipment, monitoring experiments, and analyzing data. $27,000-$35,000
  • Clinical Research Associate: In demand, these associates interact with the pharmaceutical company and healthcare sites. The position is a smooth transition for RNs and other medical professionals who can conduct trials of experimental drugs and analyze data under supervision of a more senior scientist. Clinical research associates are often called upon to write study protocols. An intricate knowledge of FDA guidelines is essential. A chemistry or biology degree is required for this job, as well as experience working in a lab. $42,000-$95,000
  • Clinical Research Physician: Often filled by medical doctors who develop and implement plans for taking experimental drugs through pre-approval clinical trials. $90,000-$200,000
  • Research Scientist: With a broad base of scientific knowledge, they are required to conduct experiments for new drugs. They work as researchers and professors at universities, as regulatory scientists for agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, and as researchers for government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. $65,000-$110,000
  • Quality Control Analyst: These analysts are responsible for developing formalized product testing procedures and for writing and debugging the scripts to run the procedures. $39,000-$60,000

Engineering Jobs

  • Process Engineer: Responsibilities include designing chemical or biological methods for mass producing compounds and design equipment. Engineers make significant contributions toward improving quality control and production efficiency. Chemical engineers design equipment and devise manufacturing processes. Bioprocess engineers design fermentation vats and various bioreactors for microorganisms. Industrial engineers plan equipment layout and workflow to maintain efficient use of plant facilities. $47,000-$86,000
  • Programmer/Analyst: Requires a background proficient in both computers and science because of the amount of complex database work they do, particularly for clinical trials. $43,000-$86,000

Sales Jobs
Pharmaceutical Field Sales Rep: Provides information to physicians, pharmacists, dentists, and health services administrators on their company’s products. $32,000-$76,000

Other Jobs
Regulatory Affairs Associate: Responsibilities include assuring regulatory requirements have been met in drug approval studies and interfacing with the FDA in the approval process and in post-marketing follow-up to ensure the largest possible market for a product. $39,000-$84,000

Where to Find Work

  • Associations: The American Association
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