Careers in Pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceutical industry develops, manufactures and markets a variety of medications that continue to save and improve lives. Educational requirements for positions range from an associate's degree to a doctorate. Keep reading to find out about some of the career options in pharmaceuticals. Schools offering Alcohol & Drug Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Careers in Pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceutical industry incorporates a wide variety of careers, but every profession incorporates chemistry and biology in its job description. Workers in these various positions work together to research, develop and test products. Some of the careers in pharmaceuticals include the following information.

Important Facts About Pharmaceutical Careers

Chemist Biochemist Chemical Engineer Pharmacologist
Required Education Bachelor's degree; the graduate degree to work in the field of research Bachelor's and master's degrees for entry-level positions; Ph.D. for research and development Bachelor's degree in chemical engineering; some work experience Doctoral degree
Key Skills Communication, analytical skills Math skills, perseverance Creativity, ingenuity Data analysis, observation, and decision-making skills
Work Environment Health and safety hazards, regular full-time hours Regular full-time hours Full time Full time
Similar Occupations Agricultural and food scientists, geoscientists Epidemiologists, physicians and surgeons Architectural and engineering managers, biomedical engineers Health educators and community health workers


Chemists work in a number of research and production jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. Using combinatorial methods, chemists are able to test large chemical compounds in different combinations. According to the BLS, analytical chemists are in high demand in the pharmaceutical industry because they work on the structure and composition of substances and identify each compound before combining them for testing. Chemists then research and record how substances interact.

The BLS expects that chemists will experience a 6% employment growth from 2016-2026, and it reported in May 2018 that chemists in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing earned a median wage of $76,890.


Biochemists help to develop drugs by studying the reactions of drugs on the body and looking at how combinations of chemicals combined with a person's metabolism. Biochemists who work in applied research and development are employed by the pharmaceutical industry. Applied research means that you work on treatments that can be marketed to the general public. The BLS reports that much of your work will have to be presented to non-scientists for approval.

According to BLS, the number of jobs for biochemists and biophysicists is expected to rise by 11% over the 2016-2026 decade, which is faster than the average. In May 2018, these professionals earned a yearly median wage of $93,280.

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers use both chemistry and engineering principals in order to fix or streamline chemical production or usage and that of other products. The equipment used in the production and packaging process is designed by chemical engineers, as well as mechanisms that aid in the testing of medications and treatments. Chemical engineers must have a thorough understanding of chemistry, engineering, electronics, and mechanics. You must also have a working knowledge of the environmental impact on the manufacturing process.

The BLS reported that these professionals will experience 8% job growth from 2016-2026. Chemical engineers made a median salary of $104,910 in May 2018.


Pharmacologists combine the principles of chemistry and biology in order to develop and evaluate new medications. Mostly you will be researching and monitoring the effects of drugs and treatments on animals. Pharmacologists must understand how to gauge the positive and negative reactions to medications in order to determine if the treatments are safe and effective for human beings. You would be working with chemists and biologists, testing prototypes and recording the results in order to improve the products.

The BLS reports that medical scientists, including pharmacologists, need a doctoral degree to find entry-level work. Average employment growth of 13% is estimated for these professionals over the 2016-2026 decade. Pharmacologists earned an average salary of $100,173 in May 2019, according to


Toxicologists study the safety of medications and medical compounds on the body. Their work is essential to ensuring the distribution of safe medications. In many cases, toxicologists study bodily fluids in order to see if there are any adverse effects to medications. As a toxicologist, you would gauge and study how medications are being absorbed into the body and what parts of the body they can affect positively or adversely.

O*NET OnLine notes that there will be little or no change in the employment of all other biological scientists, which would include toxicologists ( In June 2019, reported that toxicologists earned a average annual wage of $83,649.

Biological and Chemical Technicians

Support staffers such as biological and chemical technicians are valuable to all facets of pharmaceutical development and manufacturing. The BLS reports that most technicians study geology, chemistry or engineering at community or technical colleges. There are also support opportunities in shipping and receiving, marketing, maintenance, packaging, and office work.

According to the BLS, the entry-level education for a biological technician is a bachelor's degree, while chemical technicians need only an associate's degree. Job growth from 2016-2026 is expected to be at 10% for biological technicians, and these workers earned a median wage of $44,500 in May 2018. On the other hand, chemical technicians are expected to see employment growth of 4% from 2016-2026, and they made a median wage of $48,160 in May 2018, per BLS.

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