How To Become A Pharmaceutical Scientist
A pharmaceutical scientist researches, develops and make new drugs and therapies that contribute to the welfare of society. In this science-based career, you could focus on a particular area of drug development.
If your interest lies in biotechnology then you could work on researching, developing and marketing biotechnology-based pharmaceutical therapies. You may also look at how drugs affect the body and what the body’s effect is on the drugs administered to it. You can also concentrate on the application of science and technology in the process of drug manufacturing. You may also work on ensuring the safety and quality of drugs being made.
As a pharmaceutical scientist, you will play a crucial role in coming up with pharmaceutical therapies that are meant to enhance the well-being of everyone. Unlike a pharmacist, however, you won’t be explaining how to take a particular medicine to patients. You won’t even be educating physicians on which drugs are best for various medical conditions.
Instead, you will be doing most of your work in the laboratory where you will be doing research on new drugs. That means you will be at the forefront of new therapeutic discoveries for conditions for which the existing cures have not yet been found, or if there are already available medications, you will try to improve the existing ones so that they become more potent yet produce little or even no side effects.
To succeed as a pharmaceutical scientist requires a deep love for science and drug development. You need to be highly observant since you will be dealing with research data and samples. If you are not used to noticing the subtle changes in the results of your experiment, you could arrive at the wrong conclusions. Critical thinking and analysis are also very important in this profession.
Since you will be working with fellow scientists and explaining the results of your research to non-technical personnel like the business team of the drug development firm you are working for, excellent oral and written communication skills are a must.
Why Become A Pharmaceutical Scientist
For individuals who are inclined to doing research studies and are interested in a science-based career, becoming a pharmaceutical scientist is a great career match. The other reason is in the nobility that this profession brings. Not everyone has the opportunity to develop drugs that can help humanity by coming up with drugs that can cure diseases. A career as a pharmaceutical scientist puts one at the frontline of drug development. On the practical side, this is a career that is also financially rewarding.
Pharmaceutical Scientist Work Environment
Pharmaceutical scientists work in pharmaceutical firms, biotechnology companies and government agencies. The most common federal agencies where these professionals can be found are the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Pharmacopeia. National laboratories like the National Institutes of Health also hire pharmaceutical scientists. They also teach at universities and colleges. The work schedule is often full-time, with most spent in the laboratory or in their offices.
Since they may deal with potentially dangerous chemicals and substances, extra precautions are needed to protect themselves and ensure a safe working environment. The stress level can be high especially if the management already expects results and laboratory tests have not yielded favorable ones so far.
Pharmaceutical Scientist Salary
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have salary data specifically for pharmaceutical scientists. Data gathered from the salary survey of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists revealed that the mean annual base salary from full-time pharmaceutical scientists working in the United States was $143,800.
When supplemental income from their principal employer and other professional work are factored into the equation, their average total compensation reaches $176,100 a year.
Pharmaceutical Scientist Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the job outlook for medical scientists, including pharmaceutical scientists, to be very good in the next few years. In the decade covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate of medical scientists is set to increase 13 percent, a rate that is as fast as the national average for all job types.
The job growth will be fueled by increased reliance on pharmaceuticals, an aging population and research done on various diseases like AIDS, cancer and dementias.
Pharmaceutical Scientist Degree
To become a pharmaceutical scientist, the minimum educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences, biology, pharmacy, chemistry, engineering or medicine. An undergraduate degree is sufficient for entry-level positions. Postgraduate education is necessary for those who want to teach in the academe, do independent research and advance in their careers.