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What kind of pharmaceutical jobs are there?

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The pharmaceutical sector offers a broad range of jobs for graduates with different skill sets. Whether research is your passion or you’re a tenacious salesperson, this industry has something for you. We’ve rounded up some of the most common pharmaceutical jobs to help you narrow down your focus.

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Scientist looking down microscope at pharmaceutical jobs


Pharmaceutical scientists are responsible for conducting important research that leads to breakthroughs in treatment and medicine. Without this field, we would have a limited understanding of the human body, how it functions and how best to treat illness and disease. Pharmaceutical scientists are generally responsible for researching new or existing medicines and their possible uses as well as testing medicines and treatments to ensure they are safe for human use.

If you are pursuing a degree in a STEM subject, becoming a pharmaceutical scientist may be for you. The type of degree top pharmaceutical companies expect will depend on the role you are applying for, however, a Bachelor's degree in a STEM subject is generally required. A Master's or PhD is also highly valued by employers - take a look at our information on pursuing further study to learn more.

Chemical engineer

Chemical engineers are the movers and shakers of the pharmaceutical industry, putting in the hard work to develop and scale new medicines and treatments. At its core, chemical engineering is the practice of turning raw materials into useful and useable products, medicine being one of these outputs. 

Within the pharmaceutical industry, chemical engineers are responsible for figuring out how to produce medicine and treatments on a large-scale and work to develop systems that make this possible. There are various avenues you can pursue within chemical engineering, however, the most common will be either laboratory or plant-based work. Within each, you will develop and scale systems of production as well as ensure this process is safe. Chemical engineers need to guarantee that, at every stage of the development process, they are adhering to rules and regulations set out by governing bodies. Because of this, attention to detail is an important skill to have, as is being meticulous in your work. 

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Research assistant

If you're looking to break into the pharmaceutical sector, applying to become a research assistant can be a rewarding entry-level position. Scientists require assistants to help conduct research and manage the day-to-day running of important and life-changing projects. Research assistant roles are a great introduction to the sector and will help you develop both practical and transferable skills. 

Within a research assistant role, you may be expected to check clinical equipment, prepare tests and monitor clinical trials. If you're skilled at analysing data and are pursuing a STEM degree, you may want to consider research assistant opportunities as you look into which pharmaceutical jobs are right for you. 


When it comes to pharmaceutical jobs, pharmacists are on the front line. These are the people we interact with when we pick up medicine at a pharmacy, hospital or GP practice and are vital sources of pharmaceutical knowledge for the general public. Many pharmacists will work within the NHS and are responsible for advising the general public on treatment options, calculating doses and making sure that medication meets quality standards. 

Meticulous attention to detail is vital for this role, as is knowing your stuff. You don’t want to be giving members of the public incorrect information or doses! Those pursuing a science-based degree are well suited to a pharmacist role and having good interpersonal skills and being friendly and approachable will also hold you in good stead.

Pharmaceutical sales

Pharmaceutical sales is a promising avenue for graduates looking to break into the pharmaceutical industry without a science or medicine-based degree. In terms of pharmaceutical jobs, sales is a fast-paced and demanding role but can be highly rewarding in terms of salary and lifestyle. 

If you enjoy interacting with new people and relish the prospect of lots of travel, a pharmaceutical sales job could be for you.  It's important within a sales role to know the product you are selling down to a tee. Therefore, a strong affinity for research will go a long way to securing you a pharmaceutical sales role. In addition to this, having a firm grasp of how to network and relate to other people will propel your career in sales further. 

Discover pharmaceutical jobs with Bright Network

Interested in pursuing a profession in one of the roles above? View Pharmaceutical industrial placements on the Bright Network platform and take the next step towards your career in the pharmaceutical industry.