Emerging Job Opportunities in Big Pharma

Big pharma is an industry going through a downturn. According to BioInsights founder, Clifford Mintz, over 300,000 pharmaceutical workers have lost their jobs in the last 15 years. The worst hit areas have been in research and development as well as sales.

Increased competition from foreign companies and economic recession are responsible for this downturn. The cost of producing new drugs is also on the rise. Despite the bleak outlook for the industry, some pharmaceutical jobs are still in demand. Here are 8 sectors of Big Pharma that are expected to continue hiring workers.

1) Clinical Research

Mintz refers to clinical research as the “lifeblood” of the pharmaceutical industry. He adds that even with the downturn, clinical researchers are still in high demand around the world. They are indispensable when it comes to organizing and managing clinical trials.

2) Regulatory Affairs

New technology and drugs must adhere to complex FDA regulations. It is the work of regulatory affairs professionals to ensure that this happens. Mintz predicts that pharmaceutical companies will continue hiring professionals with knowledge on how to interact with the FDA and other regulatory bodies.

3) Bio-manufacturing

Despite the tough competition and unfavorable economic climate, pharmaceutical companies are still investing in bio-manufacturing. Just recently, pharmaceutical giant Roche bought the majority stake in Genentech, a bio-manufacturing company. Sanofi, another big pharma company, also bought out Genzyme.

Besides investing in companies, big pharma is also looking for professionals with bio-manufacturing skills. Individuals with knowledge about protein purification, fermentation, and bioengineering are still highly sought after.

4) Healthcare Information Technology

Health IT involves working with large sets of medical information such as medical records. After the Obama administration made electronic medical records a priority, demand for health IT professionals increased. Also contributing to the growth of the sector is the rise of genomics and bioinformatics.

5) Engineering

As unlikely as it sounds, big pharma is also looking for various types of engineers. Bio-engineers, who create and test pharmaceuticals, are the first group. There are also electrical engineers to manage a company’s electrical systems. Others are mechanical engineers to manufacture and oversee plant machinery, while Nano-engineers create materials at the microscopic level.

To work in big pharma, individuals can choose to enroll in a masters in engineering online from a reputable institution instead of a brick and mortar college, as those are often highly regarded in the pharmaceutical industry. The University of California Riverside has a great online masters in engineering everybody seeking a job in this sector should consider.

6) Medical Communications

Medical companies still need to communicate to inform their staff, researchers, doctors, or patients about their services or products. To do this effectively, they rely on medical communications professionals. These are people skilled in writing, editing, and designing communication materials, or in the case of medical journalism, reporting on medical matters.

7) Medical Device Industry

According to Mintz, the medical devices sector has grown explosively in the last ten years. The reason for this growth is simple. The laws which govern the development of medical devices are not as restrictive as those in, say, biologics. This makes the industry and a good alternative for big pharmaceutical companies now that times are tough.

8) Patent Law and Technology Transfer

Changes to patent laws have seen the demand for patent lawyers and agents rise. Another factor is the technology transfer between pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions. Since the two often work together to develop products, colleges and universities need experts to help them make licensing agreements with companies.


The pharmaceutical industry has faced many challenges in the last decade and a half, and thousands of people have lost their jobs as a result. Although the industry is still feeling the effects of increased competition and economic recession, some sectors are growing rapidly.

Sectors like engineering, clinical research, bio-manufacturing, and medical communications are good examples. Others are health IT, regulatory affairs, medical devices, and patent law and technology transfer.

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