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Where can a life sciences career take you?

Annabel Nangle our consultant managing the role
Published on 26 March 2020
The life sciences industry is regularly referred to as being at an inflexion point - ready to take off due to impressive advances in gene therapies and the application of AI technology. But a growing industry – valued at £16.8 billion - must work hard to keep up with a changing regulatory framework. 

Companies need to continuously innovate to deliver more complex and efficient solutions to our healthcare problems while ensuring that safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This has created an increase in demand for skilled and proficient workers able to help companies meet the strict guidelines. Here are three areas within life science that are benefiting from the great career opportunities this is creating: 


Companies are always striving to keep up to date with changes and ensure they’re complying with the latest standards. This has created a boom in the pharmacovigilance market, which was valued at £4.08 billion in 2019 and which offers diverse career options such as pharmacovigilance auditor, regulatory affairs officer and pharmacovigilance scientist. 

In pharmacovigilance, typically you start in a case processing role where you track patients’ reactions to pharmaceutical products, helping pharmaceutical companies to minimise adverse effects. After gaining some experience you’ll have two distinct career avenues, one being line management and the other is a technical path offering roles in signal detection, risk management and epidemiology, which can be highly competitive. Wherever your career takes you one thing will remain the same – the patient is always at the centre of what you do. 

Most of the major biotech and pharma companies have large sites in Ireland. The world’s top 10 pharma companies all have operations in the country. And here’s an uplifting story brought to you from a biotech company in Ireland - BioMarin is investing €38 million in their Drug Product Filling Project which develops therapies that treat rare genetic diseases in children. As with any drug that is developed, those trialled by BioMarin will be put through stringent tests by pharmacovigilance officers and new projects like this have boosted the job prospect for people working in life sciences. Could you see yourself living and working in Ireland? 

Quality assurance 

The growth of the life sciences market is partly due to the incline in chronic illnesses and our increasing reliance on new drugs which has caused a surge in demand for skilled worked in the quality assurance realm. Because every company within the life sciences sector must show their commitment to ensuring their products meet the standards, there are great opportunities for career progression within quality assurance. 

The FDA group surveyed quality leaders and found that for 66% sufficient staffing was a top concern for them in 2020. These companies will hire life science graduates as quality programs managers, regulatory compliance specialists and audit controllers. As you gain experience and begin to specialise there are options to move into areas such as clinical development where you can gain experience in a range of roles. This will give you a broader exposure to the clinical development process and makes for a very rewarding and diverse career. 

Because quality assurance is so deeply rooted within Germany’s National Strategy on Drug and Addiction Policy there are vast career opportunities in this country. And Germany's wider life sciences sector is flourishing too. Here are some other reasons that you should consider living and working in Germany

Commissioning, qualification and validation (CQV)

A report by Deloitte found that in just one year 67% of life sciences companies had increased their compliance expenditure. Naturally, this means that any job within life sciences that helps companies adhere to the strict guidelines is a very lucrative one to be in. CQV – a critical area of life sciences - ensures that a project runs smoothly from start to finish and is an essential step that every company must fulfil to meet the regulations laid out by organisations such as the FDA. 

CQV is concerned with whether procedures within a pharmaceutical facility can generate a product that satisfies the quality specifications. And to pass the validation the facility and equipment must be assessed on four factors – design, installation, operation and performance. CQV is the first step in the lifecycle of manufacturing equipment and because it is very data-heavy many candidates join the industry as a C&Q engineer

There are strong job prospects for C&Q engineers in England but if you wanted to go further afield you could consider a role in France. In 2017, their pharmaceutical industry had ballooned to an almost 100,000-strong workforce and the wider life science industry has created its own version of Silicon Valley in the Ile-de-France region. This area is home to 50% of French biotech firms and it is the second largest manufacturer of medical devices in Europe meaning that those searching for jobs in CQV won’t have to look hard here. 

Find your next life sciences job with Quanta 

Are you actively looking for your next life sciences job? You can browse our latest jobs here. Or if you want guidance figuring out how you can carve a life sciences career out for yourself contact us. Our specialist life sciences consultants will do everything they can to find a job that’s right for you, whether that’s contract or permanent, UK-based or overseas.