Adapted from northeastern.edu and hospitalcareers.com
When looking for careers that connect both your interest in research and making an impact on others’ lives, a pharmaceutical scientist could be a potential career prospect. Although pharmaceutical scientists do not interact with patients directly, their work has an invaluable impact on their lives.
While pharmacists are trained to evaluate medication use and dispense medications to patients, pharmaceutical scientists are tasked with bringing new medications to the marketplace. Pharmaceutical scientists are trained to discover, develop, test, and manufacture new medications. They perform a variety of tasks such as
- Collecting and analyzing data
- Working in an interdisciplinary research team
- Testing safety of drugs and its side effects
- Doing experiments to see how the drug works
Most of the the drugs will get discarded through the process of trail and error because it can take years to develop a new medicine before it can be widely available. Because of how complicated the drug development process is, each pharmaceutical scientist tends to specialize in one area.
They can work on finding new uses for existing drugs, discover new meds, research how the body reacts to certain drugs to make them more effective and safer, study the causes and effects of diseases on the human body and find more efficient ways to create the medication.
Other things necessary to being a pharmaceutical scientist include being patient and having perseverance, as developing drugs takes years of trial and error. They also need to know how to use computers and sophisticated testing equipment, and how to communicate their research and findings clearly.
Pharmaceutical scientists often work for pharmaceutical or biotech companies, but also in academia, contract research organizations (CROs), and manufacturing facilities. They may also act as consultants to businesses and government agencies on anything related to pharmaceuticals. They may also teach at research universities and hospitals to supervise drug testing.
Education and Training
While it is possible to become a pharmaceutical scientist with just a bachelor’s degree, especially if you want to work in drug testing, getting a master’s degree in pharmaceutical science or other related fields like pharmacology, medicinal chemistry or biomedical science is more likely to make you a more competitive candidate. A PhD in pharmaceutical science could lead to greater responsibilities and further career progression.
Pay and Job Outlook
The median salary is around $80, 974. Since there is always demand for drug development and testing, the job outlook is very good for pharmaceutical scientists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical scientists (an occupation group which includes pharmaceutical scientists) has a projected job outlook of 17% from 2020 to 2030.