Drug Design and Pharmaceutics

Learn about what careers are found in the field of drug design and pharmaceuticals. Explore educational programs, work responsibilities, employment outlook and salary potential for related occupations.

Is a Drug Design and Pharmaceutics Career for Me?

Career Summary

Research and lab work must be done before new drugs and medicines can be produced for widespread use. The pharmaceutical industry spends more money on the research and development stages than most other industries. It usually takes the work of a team of scientists to work on the development and design of new drugs. Microbiologists, physiologists, medical scientists, organic chemists and botanists are just a few of the different types of scientists who work in the pharmaceutical industry. Drug designers usually work in an office or a laboratory setting. Communication skills are useful if you wish to work in drug design because you frequently work with a team of other scientists to develop and test the new drugs.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects strong demand for scientists who work in research and development for the pharmaceutical industry during the next decade (www.bls.gov). Although demand has slowed down from previous years, the BLS reported that medical scientists would experience a 13% increase in jobs from 2012-2022. According to 2012 BLS figures, the average yearly income for all medical scientists was $87,830, and those working in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing earned $100,850 that same year.

How Can I Work in Drug Design and Pharmaceutics?

Educational Requirements

You usually need at least a bachelor's degree to work in drug design. Research positions are often filled with applicants who have a graduate degree. Since many types of scientists work in the pharmaceutical industry, you can choose from a variety of degree programs that may prepare you for work in drug design. Science technicians are qualified for some jobs with only an associate's degree, but you may need a bachelor's degree to work for other companies assisting with laboratory and technical work.

Undergraduate Programs

If you wish to become a science technician, an associate's degree in biotechnology can be a good start. This degree program can prepare you for work in the pharmaceutical industry and teach you about the biological concepts that pertain to drug design. If you wish to become a researcher, you might be interested in a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical sciences. This degree program may train you for work in research and development positions within the pharmaceutical industry. You are able to take classes in human anatomy, drug activity and drug discovery in a drug design bachelor's degree program. Some schools may offer internship opportunities in addition to classroom instruction.

Graduate Studies

A master's degree in drug discovery or a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering can prepare you for a career as a lead researcher in drug design. A master's program in drug discovery might offer courses in pharmacology, pharmaceutical processes and neurobiology. Some doctoral programs may offer biomedical concentration areas such as biomaterial engineering and molecular biomedical engineering.

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