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Diverse Opportunities Await Pharmacists in Industry

Diverse Opportunities Await Pharmacists in Industry

John Rossheim | Monster Senior Contributing Writer

Hospitals, retail, long-term-care facilities — are those all the options available for pharmacists considering the full range of career settings? Absolutely not. One important sector employs PharmDs in a range of functional areas: Pharmaceuticals.

“Pharma loves PharmDs, because they’re trained with pharmaceuticals, and they know how to apply them to human health,” says William Sietsema, vice president of clinical and regulatory strategic planning at Kendle International, a Cincinnati-based company that provides clinical research and development services on a contract basis to the biopharmaceutical industry.

More on Pharmacists

Salary: $67,860 - $119,480
Min. Education: Doctorate
Related Careers: Physician, Dentist

Niches for PharmDs

What industry niches can PharmDs enter, either right from school or with just a few years’ work experience or postgraduate training? Each year, pharma hires or promotes PharmDs to work in clinical research, drug safety, medical affairs, medical writing, regulatory affairs, education and even traditional business disciplines such as marketing, sales, finance and legal.

“Quite a few grads go directly into industry, especially if they’ve already done some relevant research,” Sietsema says. A clinical research associate position, for example, might await a newly minted PharmD savvy enough to win an academic-corporate fellowship or an industry internship or residency.

Pharmacists interested in a corporate career do need to keep in mind the milieu they’re entering. “Employers want low- or no-maintenance staff and team players,” says one California pharmacist recruiter. Although pharmacists in industry may avoid night shifts, they usually work long hours and some weekends. Substantial travel also may be involved.

For their efforts, industry pharmacists are well-compensated. “The pharmaceutical industry pays a real premium to get good people,” Sietsema says. "They’re almost certain to get a higher salary than in retail or academia.

Still, it’s hard to make a broad comparison of pay in industry versus other settings. “Pay in the industry is all over [the] place — it varies a lot by company,” says Rachel Bongiorno, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore.

Here’s a brief survey of some of the most promising career areas for pharmacists in the industry:

Clinical Research

Senior scientists in clinical research and drug discovery typically are PhDs. But associate positions and some management roles are open to PharmDs, typically with some research experience.

Clinical research associates help conduct the investigational studies required for a drug to gain FDA approval, design and process case report forms, and write and process study protocols.

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