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Building your career in life sciences

Ben Alger our consultant managing the role
Posted by Ben Alger
Published on 4 July 2017

The life sciences industry is dynamic, rapidly evolving and full of some of the best technologies on the market. It’s a fantastic place to build your career, particularly if you’re looking for an industry that offers huge variety and potential for career growth and development. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a professional looking for your next career step, we can help you find the assignment that’s right for you. Here’s what you need to know:

What jobs are available in life sciences?

Life science is a broad industry, revolving around the discovery and management of everything associated with living organisms. A lot of the work involved in life science roles is around research and development, process and procedural work and tasks in the laboratory and field. Sales roles are also integral to the life science industry.

What is currently happening in the industry?

Anyone who works within life sciences currently will tell you it’s incredibly dynamic, with opportunities for young professionals in areas such as pharma, biotech, biomed, nutraceuticals and medical device manufacturing. Rapid advancements in technology and increased investment globally means there’s a huge number of career options to explore, with new areas emerging constantly. There’s a real opportunity to make a difference to society when you work in life sciences, as you can be involved in the production of drugs that can potentially save lives.

The globalisation of the healthcare industry has meant that jobs are being created all over the world, with more demand for versatile employees who can combine their skill sets. In the future, life science professionals who have experience in both IT and biology, for example, or chemistry and business could be a real asset to developing companies.

What can you do to get ahead?

A relevant field of study is beneficial for many careers, particularly those in the life sciences industry. Many of our clients require a BSc or higher in a subject related to the industry, such as process, chemical or biopharmaceutical engineering. On top of this, relevant experience is key, even if it’s just lab work and practical applications you’ve completed at university. Highlight these learned skills to recruiters on your CV and show how these are directly applicable to the role. For example, a career in business development within biotechnology will require early research and interpersonal skills, whereas a biopharmaceutical validation engineer needs to be methodical, precise and have a bachelor’s degree in electrical or mechanical engineering or computer science.

Along with the right education, employers also look for an orientation toward the life sciences industry and an understanding of how it operates, according to a 2013 report from the Coalition of State Biosciences Institutes and Booz & Company. As with all jobs, soft skills remain important, with clients looking for candidates who can go beyond academic thinking and apply their knowledge to the real-world market.

On-the-job experience is vital to help climb up the career ladder. For some roles, pharmaceutical API experience is essential (particularly for some of our process engineer roles), while others require specific QA and auditing experience. If you’re not sure what kind of experience you need to move into an area, one of our consultants would be happy to have a chat about your options.

What roles are in high demand?

At Quanta, our clients are often looking for process engineersvalidation engineers and those who work within CQV (Commissioning, Qualification and Validation) to support their teams. CQV is a great field to move into for engineers looking to upskill, and there’s currently a huge number of roles available around Europe. Ireland and Scotland are just two of the major life sciences hubs currently, while India is also seeing massive growth.

Many areas within life sciences are candidate-driven currently, as there are a significant number of projects coming onto market and not enough skilled and experienced professionals to fill the contracts. At Quanta, we partner with nine of the top ten life science organisation globally, and we have a wide variety of contract roles on offer around the world. For more information, click here.