How to get a job in the pharmaceutical industry

Are you ready to break into the exciting world of pharmaceuticals?

The pharmaceutical industry is at an exciting point - new technologies and discoveries are being made all the time. Those in the field get a chance to be on the cutting edge of medical research and sometimes they even get to develop lifesaving medicines and therapies. And there's more to the industry than just those performing the actual research. Medical writers, quality control experts and pharmacovigilance departments are just a few of the other opportunities afforded by the industry. Read on to take a closer look at how to get into this fascinating industry:

Pharma an economic powerhouse
In the current economic climate, why is the pharmaceutical industry becoming such a jobs giant? The answer lies in the industry's focus on research and development, according to a PhRMA article. In fact, the Pharmaceuticals and Medicines space invests six times that of all manufacturing industries when it comes to R&D.

The pharmaceutical industry offers expansive opportunities for skilled individuals to get great compensation for their skills and effort. PhRMA reports that those employed directly in biopharmaceutical sector jobs earned an average salary of $123,108 in 2014.

"We work with many Pharmaceutical, Biotech and Medical Device companies across the United States, covering areas from R&D, Regulatory Affairs, QA, Biostatistics, Drug Safety, Medical Information, Clinical Data Management, Medical Writing, Clinical Operations, and many others," says Ryan Pirnat, Managing Director of Beacon Hill Pharma. "It can be challenging breaking into this space, but we typically see individuals with science degrees (BS, MS, Ph.D., Pharm.D., MD). We also see individuals changing from Pharmacist and Nursing roles."

Competition for jobs is fierce, and you'll have to be at the top of your game if you want to compete with other qualified candidates. First, take a look at three major sectors within the industry:

Science-focused positions
When you think about the industry as a whole, you probably imagine people in white coats developing new chemicals to make lifesaving medicines. Lab technicians, microbiologists, chemists and many more science-focused positions are available in this realm. Companies who hire for these kinds of jobs are typically looking for people with advanced degrees in the field who have a strong work ethic, a passion for the industry and the ability to solve complicated problems. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, positions such as microbiologists are only expected to grow four percent over the next 10 years, meaning those with degrees will have to prove that they're capable of making a strong contribution to the companies they apply to.

The positions available within the pharmaceutical industry are widely varied.

Account management positions
As with many enterprises, pharmaceutical companies rely on business-to-business relations to function within the marketplace. Even those that sell directly to consumers will still have to work with vendors and pitch their products to major retailers. As such, account management and sales positions are great options for breaking into the industry. LiveCareer noted that, like similar positions in other fields, getting to be a pharmaceutical sales rep can take a lot of networking. If you're already in a sales positions, use your contacts to ask about potential open positions at companies in your area. When you land an interview, be prepared to show off examples from your previous positions.

Data-focused positions
This industry is heavily driven by data of a complicated nature. Data entry positions in this field tend to require a higher skill set than those in other industries. Precision and attention to detail are highly valued skills. And when it comes to medical writing, the qualifications are even more stringent. According to a study found in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, writers in the medical field need to have a comprehensive understanding of pharmaceuticals. Many companies require their writers to have an academic focus in a field such as chemistry, biology or other related topic.

"Sharpen your networking skills as you look for positions."

Breaking into the industry
If you have the talent and the academic background for your ideal position within the pharmaceutical industry, you'll still need to be persistent and focused. As noted above, networking plays a huge role in finding open positions. Talk to everyone you know in the industry or consider using a professional staffing firm to boost your hiring potential.

"In today's market, companies are looking for more than just technical skills," says Mr. Pirnat. "People have to have personal skills, communication skills, and be flexible and adaptable. Be willing to take an opportunity that gives you training and experience so you can advance your career in the long-run. Especially with the massive expansion in research and development, there is a lot of room for growth in this field."

As you search for a position, polish your resume and pay careful attention to your cover letters. You don't want to get passed over because of a spelling mistake.

Finding a position may be challenging, but the effort is well worth it. Great benefits and compensation are just two of the great perks of breaking into the pharmaceutical industry.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group

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