Job Outlook for Biotech and Pharmaceutical Careers

Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country.
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There are over 901 biotechnology medicines and vaccines in development at America’s biotechnology-derived pharmaceutical research companies, according to a 2011 report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. This includes 353 medicines for cancer, 187 drugs for infectious diseases, 59 medicines for autoimmune diseases, and 59 drugs to treat cardiovascular diseases. Advancements in cellular and molecular biology have already resulted in drugs that either prevent or treat a variety of diseases, including heart attacks, multiple sclerosis, leukemia and hepatitis. As a result, the job outlook for biotechnology and pharmaceutical careers is quite promising.

Biomedical Engineers

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts demand for biomedical engineers to grow by 62 percent through 2020, which more than quadruples the 14.3 percent job growth rate projected for other U.S. occupations. Among other things, biomedical engineers design new drugs, drug delivery systems and computer simulations to test new drug therapies. The educational requirement for this job is a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. According to May 2012 BLS salary data, biomedical engineers earned an annual mean wage of $91,200.

Biochemists and Biophysicists

    Employment of biochemists and biophysicists is projected to increase by 31 percent through 2020. Their involvement in biotechnology research leads to the development of new medicines that fight genetic disorders and such diseases as cancer. Biochemists and biophysicists generally need a Ph.D. in biochemistry to work in independent research and development jobs. However, a bachelor’s or master’s degree is usually sufficient for some entry-level biochemistry and biophysics jobs. In May 2012, biochemists and biophysicists earned an annual mean wage of $89,470, reports the BLS.

Biological Technicians

    Through 2020, biological technician jobs are anticipated to increase by 14 percent. Biological technicians work with biomedical engineers, biochemists, biophysicists and other biotechnology scientists. They set up laboratory instruments and equipment, such as test tubes, microscopes and scales, and they also gather and prepare samples of food, blood or bacteria cultures for lab analysis. The educational requirement for biological technicians is a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field. The BLS listed the annual mean wage of biological technicians as $42,600 in May 2012.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives

    The BLS projects a 16 percent increase in demand for pharmaceutical sales reps. These professionals identify and contact potential clients such as pharmacists, physicians and other medical personnel to sell them pharmaceutical supplies. They also answer questions regarding product use, prices, studies, side effects and other statistics. The educational requirement is generally a bachelor’s degree, preferably in biology, chemistry or a related subject. The BLS classifies pharmaceutical sales reps as technical and scientific products sales representatives, and listed their May 2012 annual mean wage as $85,690.

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