The Pharmaceutical Industry Is About So Much More Than Just Science

The UK’s pharmaceutical industry is made up of some 600 enterprises, who employ around 70,000 people, according to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

The Chemist

And yet, of those 70,000 employees only about 25,000 are based in roles associated with research and development. Far from the cliché of mad scientist in white lab coats experimenting with Bunsen burners and flasks of mysterious liquids, UK pharma is a highly diverse employment landscape.


All medicines start out as research projects for scientists, but in order to get these drugs onto shelves there are countless roles involved. The pharmaceutical industry needs:

  • Research and development scientists to test the drugs and then test them again
  • CAD technicians to help create and test packaging
  • Product designers to innovate new packaging/supply solutions
  • Materials & production engineers to ensure facilities are operating smoothly
  • Graphic designers to assist with providing visual clarity, especially when usage instructions are crucial for safety
  • Sales representatives to negotiate with buyers
  • Quality control & operations coordinators to keep supplies and supply chains running safely

Let’s take one tiny part of the process- packaging. Once the miracle drug is made, how will it be delivered safely? Does it need advanced features like child resistance? Does it need special climate controls? How can it be presented to better to ensure vulnerable people take the right doses at the right times? All these are fascinating questions that need young minds to help answer.


So, what makes a good member of the pharmaceutical industry? Certain skills carry over across all roles, including:

  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity
  • People skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem solving and lateral thinking
  • Commercial awareness

Whichever of these skills you excel with, there’s a role for you. People skills and commercial awareness would help you negotiate deals with suppliers. Attention to detail and creativity make a great combination for graphic designers. Analytical thinking and problem solving are vital for engineers. Throughout though, as the industry is so collaborative, communication and teamwork are key.

Jobs in the pharmaceutical industry can be highly rewarding because everything you do goes towards helping real people improve their health.

Unlike other similar jobs in different industries, your work directly benefits society.

Origin Pharmaceutical Packaging have put together a handy guide that details what you’ll need to know before you look at jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. The guide covers a whole host of roles from research to engineering, and from quality assurance to product development.  

[image Reiterlied via Compfight]

Liz Vassilakes • 12/08/2019

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