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Jobs in the Pharmaceutical Industry


Although there are many different jobs available in the pharmaceutical industry, most jobs fall into two main categories: employees who work in pharmacies, and employees who work for pharmaceutical manufacturers and/or distributors. These two categories are very different, and require very different skills and expertise. Employees who work in pharmacies are either pharmacy assistants/technicians or pharmacists.

Employees working for drug manufacturers are primarily employed in creating and/or testing new drugs, selling drugs, producing the drugs, or delivering them.

Of course within any company there are a variety of other jobs, such as accountants and human resources personnel. 

To work in a pharmacy, you must like working with people. Not only will you be interacting with customers throughout your workday, you must also work with the other members of the pharmacy team, and other drug store personnel, so that customer service quality is maintained. It can be stressful trying to accurately fill customer prescriptions, bill their insurance providers, and answer their questions.

Those who work in drug development are usually researchers with many years of experience. They go through a process that takes many years to develop a single drug. Pharmaceutical sales people market the drugs to doctors and hospitals, while manufacturing personnel work to produce and package the drug.

Here is a list of some of the more prevalent jobs in the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Assembler
  • Biochemist
  • Biological engineer
  • Biological scientist
  • Biological technician
  • Chemical technician
  • Chemist
  • Fabricator
  • Inspector
  • Laboratory assistant
  • Medical scientist
  • Microbiologist
  • Organic chemist
  • Pharmacist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Pharmacy aide
  • Pharmacy assistant
  • Pharmacy technician
  • Tablet tester

pharmaceuticals photoLooking at this list, it’s easy to see a wide range of jobs in the industry for people of all kinds: skilled, unskilled, highly educated, and those with less education. Here is more information that should help you decide if a career in the pharmaceutical industry is right for you. Want something related? Then consider careers in healthcare which are plentiful and varied.

Employment Outlook

If you are considering a career in the pharmaceutical industry, you will have a good chance of getting employment if you choose to work in a pharmacy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of the baby boomers aging and needing more medical care, there will be a very high need for pharmacist technicians and pharmacists. Technicians will see the highest growth rate, according to the Bureau. The number of technician jobs is expected to increase by 25% by 2018. The Bureau also predicts that the number of pharmacist jobs will increase by 17% by 2018.

Jobs on the manufacturing side will not grow at the same high rate as pharmacy jobs, according to the Bureau. The Bureau cites just a 6% increase in the number of jobs on the manufacturing side of the industry.

Salary Outlook

Just as there is a wide range of jobs in the industry, there is an equally wide range of salaries.  Pharmacists can earn quite high salaries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says the median annual salary for pharmacists is approximately $106,000. The lowest paid employees in the manufacturing side of the industry are packaging and filling machine operators, according to the Bureau, which says these employees earn an average hourly wage of $13.

The Bureau says pharmacist assistants or aides earn an average hourly wage of approximately $13.00 per hour, while scientists and other highly skilled and educated personnel earn a median annual salary of $42.00 per hour.

Education and Training Requirements

Not every job in the pharmaceutical industry requires a degree, but many of them do. Pharmacists typically require the most education.

They must receive a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, a degree that is earned after four years of study and at least two years of college coursework previous to entering the program. Pharmacists must also be licensed. Pharmacy aides or assistants must have a high school diploma, and many retail facilities also prefer candidates who have previous experience and/or some post-high school coursework completed.

When it comes to the manufacturing side of the industry, scientists, laboratory workers, researchers, and sales associates, all must possess bachelor degrees in related fields, and in some cases must have graduate degrees. Scientists who perform clinical studies must have a medical degree. Production workers must have a high school diploma.

If you are interested in working in a medical-related field without being a doctor, the pharmaceutical industry offers many options. Pharmacists are able to confer with customers, answering medical care questions related to their prescriptions. Manufacturing workers can gain satisfaction from knowing they are working to meet the population’s medical needs.

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