What Can I Do with a Pharmaceutical Science Degree?

A pharmaceutical science degree program might prepare students to pursue careers in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as well as in regulatory agencies and academia. They can qualify for a variety of roles including scientists, researchers, compliance officers, and sales personnel. Schools offering Alcohol & Drug Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Pharmaceutical Science Degrees

Pharmaceutical science applies the principles and theories of chemistry, biology, biochemistry, and engineering in designing and developing new drugs and therapies. A bachelor of pharmaceutical science program provides a theoretical and technical grounding in the natural sciences as well as in the different areas of pharmaceutical development. An undergraduate curriculum typically includes courses in drug synthesis and manufacturing, regulatory compliance, quality control, drug delivery, pharmacology, and toxicology. Meanwhile, a graduate pharmaceutical science degree program focuses on high-level basic and applied research and offers specializations in various pharmaceutical areas such as translational therapeutics, pharmacometrics, chemical biology, pharmacoengineering, and pharmaceutical policy.

Pharmaceutical Science Jobs

Pharmaceutical science graduates can find employment in research facilities and laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and universities. Bachelor's degree holders can qualify for entry-level positions in drug manufacturing and analysis, clinical trial operations, or pharmaceutical sales while those with graduate degrees can hold teaching and research posts in colleges and universities or more advanced roles in pharmaceutical research.

Pharmaceutical Scientist

The work of a pharmaceutical scientist spans the fields of biotechnology, clinical pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacoepidemiology, regulatory sciences, and other related areas. They can focus on specific aspects of drug development, including discovery, formulation and delivery, absorption and metabolism, and toxicology testing. They are often employed by pharmaceutical and research firms or regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Clinical Research Associate

Clinical research associates manage the development and implementation of clinical protocols, data collection, and quality controls in clinical trials. They ensure that plans and practices are in accordance with regulatory and contractual requirements. This includes monitoring and evaluating the conduct and progress of studies, identifying potential problems and issues, and checking on-site records and source documents for accuracy and completeness. They may also be in charge of training research and technical personnel as well as managing work assignments. Certification or the ability to become certified as a clinical research associate may be a requirement of some employers.

Biomedical Researcher

Biomedical researchers work on tracking the causes and progression of diseases and are involved in creating therapeutics and treatments that improve human health. This could include developing novel treatments for chronic conditions, understanding the metastasis of different cancers, designing medical implants, or enhancing techniques for early detection of diseases. They often work in laboratories, conducting clinical tests and experiments, but others may run field research in community-based clinics. Biomedical researchers usually find work in university research centers, hospitals, and pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

Regulatory Affairs Specialist

Regulatory affairs specialists are responsible for making sure that a product is compliant with government and industry regulations. They work with researchers and scientists to implement drug trials, apply for approvals and permits from regulatory bodies, and submit necessary data for a drug's approval and release. They also establish documented procedures to standardize operations, conduct internal audits of products and processes, and install appropriate corrective measures.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

A career in pharmaceutical sales and marketing involves meeting with physicians and other medical professionals to promote prescription medications. The job requires broad and detailed knowledge of products as well as medical issues, industry updates, and scientific innovations. Pharmaceutical sales representatives also need to address clients' complaints, come up with viable solutions, and forward recommendations to management. The educational requirements to become a pharmaceutical sales representative can vary by employer but a degree in pharmaceutical science usually provides a competitive advantage.

Career Outlook for Pharmaceutical Science Graduates

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical scientists, which include pharmaceutical and clinical researchers, have a median annual salary of $84,810 as of May 2018. Those working in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing have the highest wages ($115,450), followed by those in research and development ($90,910), the BLS stated. Medical scientists working in academia have the lowest median annual salary at $61,270, based on BLS data. Employment in this field is expected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, higher than the average for all jobs. Meanwhile, the median annual wage for compliance officers is $68,860, with an employment growth rate of 6 percent from 2018-2028, based on BLS projections. Sales representatives for professional, scientific, and technical services earned a median annual salary of $84,380 as of May 2018, with a projected employment growth rate of 4 percent from 2018-2028, according to the BLS.

RolesMedical ScientistsCompliance OfficersSales Representatives
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*8%6%4% (for Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products)
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)*$84,810$68,860$84,380 (for Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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