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Pharmaceutical Jobs - Tips for Choosing a Pharmaceutical Career

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Pharmaceutical careers can take varied paths; there are many diverse areas of the industry in which you can get yourself involved. The entire industry deals with medications, and most of the time during your work you will have either direct or indirect involvement with them. The path you take to settle into one of these pharmaceutical jobs depends not only on your work preferences, but also your education, goals and desires.

Sales Careers

Perhaps the first thing you need to know is the type of pharmaceutical jobs available. One of the more well-known positions working in the pharmaceutical industry is that of pharmaceutical sales people. The pharmaceutical sales industry involves working as a representative for a pharmaceutical company.

In pharmaceutical sales, you'll be expected to do a lot of traveling, marketing, and meeting of sales goals. You'll travel to doctor's offices, hospitals, independent practitioners, and other patient care facilities. During marketing and sales meetings, you'll be introducing the new medications and drugs you have and signing business customers up. Many pharmaceutical sales people make hefty commissions and, thusly, have a great salary.

Pharmacy Jobs

Two types of pharmaceutical careers reside in the actual pharmacies that house medications for patients, whether it's in a hospital, community setting or independent and standalone business. Pharmacists work directly with patients or the individuals receiving the prescription medications. These individuals distribute the medication, advise patients on the side effects, interactions and safety procedures associated with specific medications. In addition, they often counsel patients on issues ranging from the use of prescription drugs to diet, exercise, and stress management.

The other class of pharmacy jobs is the pharmacy technician. This person assists the pharmacy and may work in the rear of the pharmacy counting and preparing prescriptions and getting them ready for distribution to the patient. They also perform general administrative, customer service and other duties under the direction and guidance of the pharmacist.

Pharmaceutical Research Careers

An area that's often overlooked in the pharmaceutical industry involves research. With these types of pharmaceutical careers, you'll be working directly for a pharmaceutical company. Depending on your position, you can be working in a laboratory, carry out scientific studies or assist with other vital functions related to the development of new drugs and medications.

Education Required

As mentioned, the type of pharmaceutical job you want depends on the level of education you have or want to acquire. Most pharmaceutical jobs require an educational background of some sort. A sales position working in the industry typically requires a bachelor's degree, either in biology, marketing or even sales. Some pharmaceutical companies may provide their own training program, but generally like to see individuals with either a related degree and/or a strong sales background.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians also require education. While pharmacy technicians can finish a technical program in as little as 6 months, many programs require 12 months to two years to complete. Pharmacists, on the other hand, are required to graduate from a Doctor of Pharmacy program, at which point you'll be awarded the Pharm.D degree. Before you can apply to this graduate program, you often need at least 2-3 years of full-time study at the undergraduate level.

Pharmaceutical jobs in research also typically require graduate school training. Many professionals at the research level have either previously worked as pharmacists, medical doctors, psychiatrists, and biological scientists.


The salary level for your career can be a motivating factor which can help you further decide which path in the pharmaceutical industry you would like to take. Pharmaceutical sales representatives typically earn a base salary with very generous commission structures from the company. According to Indeed and PayScale, the average salary levels for pharmaceutical representatives--as of 2010--is anywhere from $65,000 to $90,000 annually. This depends on the commission structure and other bonuses offered by the company.

Pharmacists, on the other hand, can make more. The Occupational Outlook Handbook reports 2009 data shows pharmacists' earnings to be around $106,000 annually, on average. By contrast, pharmacy technicians only make $29,000 annually, or around $14 per hour. Pharmaceutical researchers working for pharmaceutical companies can probably expect to make much more. Considering many hold advanced doctoral degrees, it is not uncommon for pharmaceutical researchers to make well over $100,000.

As you can see, there are many different facets when it comes to pharmaceutical careers and jobs. The path you take varies for each segment of the industry, but it would be wise to pre-plan what you want to do. Once you have attained the necessary education and/or experience, you can certainly thrive well in one of the many pharmaceutical jobs. To find jobs available in the pharmaceutical industry, you can visit You can sign up for a free trial and look at the thousands of listings to find pharmacy tech, pharmacist positions and many other jobs from employers.
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