Drug Development, Industrial and Clinical

If you want to develop new medications to help people who are suffering from disease or illness, then you may be interested in working in industrial and clinical drug development. Read on to learn more about academic requirements and earnings for drug development scientists.

Is Industrial or Clinical Drug Development for Me?

Career Overview

Drug development workers research, modify and test new drugs and medical treatments. Medical and biological scientists are usually responsible for the research and development stage in manufacturing a pharmaceutical drug. These scientists are often part of a team if they work for a private drug company. Some drug development projects need biomedical engineers to design the equipment that will be used to conduct the research. Science technicians usually assist the research scientists with minor laboratory tasks.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment of biochemists and biophysicists, was expected to increase by a faster-than-average rate of 19% nationwide from 2012-2022. By comparison, opportunities for medical scientists were projected to grow by an average rate through 2022. As of May 2013, biochemists and biophysicists earned a median annual salary of $84,320, while medical scientists made $79,840. Some of the highest paid medical scientists worked in pharmaceutical manufacturing, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Industrial or Clinical Drug Development?

Overview of Educational Options

Scientists and engineers who work in the pharmaceutical industry usually have a master's or doctoral degree in a relevant area of study. Science technicians generally need some postsecondary education. Many companies prefer technicians who have obtained a bachelor's degree. You can begin preparing for a career in drug development by obtaining a bachelor's degree in a related medical field, such as chemistry, biology or pharmaceutical science.

Graduate Programs

If you wish to become a drug development scientist, a master's degree in drug discovery and development is a relevant option. Course topics may include clinical drug research, research ethics and medical device development. A doctoral program in biomedical engineering is a good choice if you wish to become a medical engineer or scientist. Some biomedical doctorate programs offer concentrations in research. In a doctoral program, you may learn how to model biological systems while studying biomaterials, blood compatibilities and biosensors.


Although requirements can vary according to the position, you may need a license to work in clinical and industrial drug development. For example, you'll need a medical degree and a state-issued license to conduct drug-testing scenarios with actual patients or people.

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