Jobs in pharmaceutical companies (With salary and duties)

Updated 21 July 2023

If you have an interest in science and medicine, you might decide to pursue a career in pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical industry offers a variety of roles that can allow you to pursue a rewarding career and contribute to the medical community. Learning more about the various roles can help you decide if this industry is suitable for you and which jobs in particular appeal to you. In this article, we look at 10 jobs in pharmaceutical companies and the common requirements for these roles.

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What are jobs in pharmaceutical companies?

Learning more about the different jobs in pharmaceutical companies can help you plan your future career and decide if this industry is the right one for you. A career in the pharmaceutical industry may interest you if you wish to contribute to the medical community, which often has a positive impact on the community. Some areas that you might choose to work in at a pharmaceutical company include:

  • research and development

  • clinical trials

  • regulatory affairs and pharmacovigilance

  • manufacturing

  • quality control

  • sales and customer relations

Common jobs in pharmaceutical companies

Depending on your interest in this field, there are plenty of jobs you can get, such as a biochemist. These professionals work in a laboratory setting and study the chemical processes that occur in living things, and their average annual salary is £27,622. Below are other common jobs that you can consider pursuing if you wish to work for a pharmaceutical company:

1. Laboratory technician

National average salary: £21,258 per year

Primary duties: Laboratory technicians work for various employers, including pharmaceutical companies. They're responsible for supporting scientists with research, testing and trials and often work in the research and development department of pharmaceutical companies. Laboratory technicians typically perform tests to assess the effects of new drugs and medical treatments. They also clean the lab and testing equipment, alongside ensuring that the lab is well-equipped.

Related: What does a laboratory technician do? (Plus skills and tips)

2. Manufacturing technician

National average salary: £24,194 per year

Primary duties: Manufacturing technicians work in a range of manufacturing environments, including within the pharmaceutical industry. They're responsible for operating and maintaining manufacturing equipment. They also monitor and check the quality of the products the factory makes and document the results. This ensures that the products meet rigorous quality standards and manufacturing is consistent and reliable.

3. Maintenance technician

National average salary: £28,403 per year

Primary duties: In the pharmaceutical industry, a maintenance technician is sometimes called a maintenance engineer. These professionals are responsible for the routine maintenance of manufacturing equipment, which might be complex and delicate. Maintenance technicians also troubleshoot problems with manufacturing equipment and complete repair work. When completing their work, carefully documenting everything is important because of stringent regulations.

4. Quality control analyst

National average salary: £29,034 per year

Primary duties: Quality control analysts work in manufacturing in a variety of different industries, including the pharmaceutical industry. Within pharmaceutical companies, quality control analysts work in a laboratory setting and conduct tests of finished pharmaceutical products to ensure their quality against pre-determined criteria. This work is important because it ensures that finished products are safe, effective and ready for use. Experience in laboratory science is usually required for this line of work, although it's possible to work in this role after gaining quality control experience from another industry.

Related: ​What companies are in the healthcare field? (Plus definition)

5. Clinical trial administrator

National average salary: £30,231 per year

Primary duties: A clinical trial administrator provides administrative support during the clinical trials of pharmaceutical products. This includes a range of different tasks, such as preparing documentation, organising meetings, reviewing standards and submitting regulatory and research and development reports. In some cases, clinical trial administrators might also complete minor medical tasks, such as taking blood samples or conducting laboratory testing. Clinical trial administrators frequently work for pharmaceutical companies that run their own clinical trials. These administrators might also work in medical or research institutions.

6. Pharmaceutical sales representative

National average salary: £33,305 per year

Primary duties: Pharmaceutical sales representatives are sales specialists who promote and sell the company's products to healthcare professionals, health services and medical clinics. The exact products they sell depend on the company they work for but are likely to include medical equipment, prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines. These sales representatives interact with a wide variety of healthcare professionals, including GPs, pharmacists, hospital administrators and specialist doctors. This job typically involves having to meet ambitious sales targets.

Related: How to write a strong sales executive CV: tips and templates

7. Mechanical engineer

National average salary: £34,802 per year

Primary duties: Mechanical engineers work in a range of different industries, including pharmaceuticals. Those that work in this industry typically work for pharmaceutical companies that develop and manufacture medical devices. Mechanical engineers specialise in designing, building and testing complex tools, machines and mechanical devices. They might work for a pharmaceutical company to help them develop new diagnostic equipment and medical devices using mathematical principles and physics. Sometimes they're also involved in installing complex medical machinery and equipment at healthcare clinics and hospitals.

Related: Tips for writing your engineering personal statement

8. Validation engineer

National average salary: £39,519 per year

Primary duties: Validation engineers work within the validation team at pharmaceutical companies and are responsible for planning and implementing validation processes. These processes ensure that the company's equipment and procedures lead to consistent results that the company can reproduce. They work with other team members to measure and analyse processes and test and calibrate manufacturing equipment. It's also important for validation engineers to keep accurate records of their work for regulatory purposes. Validation engineers can also specialise in certain areas, like processes or cleaning procedures.

9. Regulatory affairs specialist

National average salary: £44,702 per year

Primary duties: Regulatory affairs specialists are responsible for staying up-to-date with the latest regulatory requirements and ensuring that the company's operations and products meet these requirements. They monitor quality continually and collect data, which they later submit to regulatory bodies. Regulatory affairs specialists also develop and implement new strategies to ensure that the company complies with regulatory requirements and meets consistent standards. The regulatory requirements that these professionals deal with can vary, depending on the location of the company and the type of pharmaceutical products they manufacture.

10. Pharmacovigilance manager

National average salary: £50,669 per year

Primary duties: Pharmacovigilance managers are responsible for pharmaceutical safety. This job title is sometimes also called drug safety officer. They monitor and report the effectiveness of pharmaceutical products and any side-effects or adverse effects. This applies to the general population, hospital patients and participants in clinical and research trials. Healthcare professionals and members of the public might report this information to the pharmaceutical company. They might also conduct interviews with patients or healthcare professionals to fully understand the effects of a medicine or pharmaceutical product.

Related: How to become a pharmaceutical scientist (tips and duties)

What are the common requirements for jobs in the pharmaceutical industry?

The skills and qualifications that can help you get a job in a pharmaceutical company depend on the type of work you'd like to do. For most roles, an undergraduate degree in a science, medical or technology-related subject can be an advantage and, in some cases, this is a requirement. Some jobs have specific educational requirements, so if you're interested in a particular job, it's best to research the requirements for the role. Completing a postgraduate degree can also be beneficial for many jobs in the pharmaceutical industry and may be a requirement for some roles.

Gaining work experience or completing an internship, especially while you're studying, can also help you gain relevant experience and skills that can make it easier for you to gain an entry-level role in this industry. After gaining professional experience in another industry, it's also possible to use the transferable skills you've developed to work in the pharmaceutical industry without coming from a science or medical background. While the skills required for each role in the pharmaceutical industry may vary, there are some common skills that are useful for most roles. These include:

  • attention to detail

  • problem-solving skills

  • commercial awareness

  • IT skills

  • numeracy skills

  • communication and interpersonal skills

  • time management skills

  • planning and project management skills

  • scientific knowledge and technical skills

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌


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