Careers in drug science


Alice and her friends answer questions that you don’t want to ask your preceptor, peer, or colleagues regarding your career in science.

Dear Alice,

I am a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. I want to develop a career that does not involve research or teaching. Some options I’m familiar with are regulatory affairs and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewer, but I would like to know what other career options are available that offer a top salary.

Also, how do I land those careers? If I want to pursue regulatory affairs after my graduation, how do I do that? Is there any advantage to joining the FDA first, gaining experience, and then moving to regulatory affairs at a company?

—Tanvir

Focus on courses that provide you with broadly applicable tools: information technology, informatics, drug development, clinical trials, medicinal chemistry, operations management, and regulatory affairs are obvious choices.

Dear Tanvir,

Ph.D. training in pharmaceutical sciences trains you for many different types of jobs. At this stage, it is important to pick courses that fit with your goals. Focus on courses that provide you with broadly applicable tools: information technology, informatics, drug development, clinical trials, medicinal chemistry, operations management, and regulatory affairs are obvious choices.

Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to the top paying jobs. As in most careers, unless you have special connections, you start at the bottom and work your way to the best jobs. Doing your very best at each stage, no matter how menial the job may seem, will help you to reach your goals.

Also watch the changing medical environment in this country. Pharmacies are starting to offer health- care services beyond filling prescriptions. Just in the last few years, more and more individuals are walking into their local pharmacies to get not just their annual flu shots but also vaccinations. As a pharmaceutical sciences Ph.D., you may be able to contribute to the development and operation of similar new business opportunities. These are exciting challenges for your chosen profession.

—Alice, with , dean of the KGI School of Pharmacy, Claremont, California

Elsewhere in Science, 6 March 2015

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