How to Become a Pharmaceutical Scientist

How to Become a Pharmaceutical Scientist – Overview

If you have a passion for studying science and want to discover new medicines and medical treatments, then a career as a pharmaceutical scientist may suit you.

Pharmaceutical scientists are professionals who research, develop and experiment with new medications that can be sold to medical clinics and pharmaceutical companies. You need the proper education, training, and relevant experience to become a pharmaceutical scientist.

In this article, we shall explain how to become a successful pharmaceutical scientist, the certifications and qualifications, and the advantages of the career.

What is a Pharmaceutical Scientist?

A pharmaceutical scientist is also known as a manager of pharmaceutical science. These professionals research, discover, develop, and test new medications and medical treatments for biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

These professionals spend most of their time engaged in laboratories testing the interactions of various compounds and disease-causing organisms or cells. Pharmaceutical scientists also experiment to learn the effect of these compounds on the human body, to find their effectiveness, and if they are safe for human consumption.

What does a Pharmaceutical Scientist do?

How to Become a Pharmaceutical Scientist

How to Become a Pharmaceutical Scientist – What does they do?

A pharmaceutical scientist works in a laboratory to design and test medicines to cure ailments and relieve body pains. These professionals usually work as part of a larger team of scientists from other areas, such as biology, engineering, medicine, and chemistry. Most pharmaceutical scientists are employed by major pharmaceutical companies or by private clinical trials and research laboratories.

Pharmaceutical scientists are tasked first to conduct the essential research and ensure the new medications meet state and federal government regulations and standards.

Some of the most common tasks performed by pharmaceutical scientists are:

  • Collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data related to the efficacy of medications during the pre-clinical development stages.
  • Working with a team of scientists and other lab team members to develop and test effective medications and treatments that help ensure they are safe for
  • Testing and improving different pharmaceutical compounds that help patients and have limited to no side effects.
  • Organizing and managing pharmaceutical experiments and clinical trials to understand better the efficacy of the newly discovered medicinal drug.
  • Figuring new and innovative ways to use existing medication and treat different disorders and diseases.
  • Research how diseases impact the human body and the causes of the development of specific illnesses, injuries and medical disorders.
  • Determining the best dosage amounts and timings for newly-discovered medicinal drugs.

What are a Pharmaceutical Scientist’s Salary and Career Prospects?

As people become more health-aware and new diseases are discovered, there is an ever-growing demand for pharmaceutical scientists, and employers are ready to pay substantial salaries for qualified and experienced professionals.

According to Indeed Salaries, the national annual median salary for pharmaceutical scientists in the US is around US$ 95,990. If you choose to advance your education, you can earn an even higher wage and swiftly move up the hierarchy. Some pharmaceutical companies may offer a higher salary than others, depending on the job profile, responsibilities, and geographical location.

The career prospects for pharmaceutical scientists are bright and expected to grow by 6% over the next decade, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) statistics. As increasing numbers of researchers are making groundbreaking discoveries about human health, there is a growing need for pharmaceutical scientists to develop medications and treatments to cure these newly discovered diseases and ailments. In short, pharmaceutical scientists are in great demand to help improve human lives.

What are the Skills Required to Become a Pharmaceutical Scientist?

The ability to collect, analyze and interpret complex data numbers that help build effective and safe patient medications is most commonly required for a successful pharmaceutical scientist.

You should have strong attention to detail and be able to carefully identify any abnormal reactions to certain ingredients or compounds that could have negative side effects on the patient.

Besides this, you also need to have an impressive knowledge of how research labs operate and how to use research equipment and correctly perform experiments.

Apart from these, the other skills required to become a successful pharmaceutical scientist are:

  • Analytical and data-driven mindset
  • Team-building and collaboration skills
  • Effective verbal and written communication capabilities
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Organizational and time-management abilities
  • Advanced knowledge of anatomy, chemistry, biology, and medical terminology

How to Become a Pharmaceutical Scientist?

If you have the aforementioned skills and attitude, then you only need to get the education and certification requirements.

Here are the steps to becoming a successful pharmaceutical scientist:

1 – Earn a bachelor’s degree

Most employers prefer candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical science or a related field. Many employers may also require you to continue your education and receive a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences. Though not all employers will require this, you will have better opportunities if you earn a master’s degree.

The bachelor’s degree you choose should offer basic science courses, such as general chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, health education and planning, health policy, and organic chemistry.

2 – Choose an area of pharmaceutical science

You can choose to focus on numerous different aspects of drug development, such as manufacturing, development and discovery.

In the discovery phase, pharmaceutical scientists spend most of their time researching the body and finding how it reacts and interacts with different compounds. This helps to develop new ideas for improved medications.

The development states scientists are engaged in finding ingredients that can help make new medications. In the manufacturing stage, pharmaceutical scientists work to create the final product of the new medicine or treatment and sell it to clinics or pharmaceutical companies.

You should make this decision based on your particular skills and focus.

3 – Get on-the-job experience

After earning the necessary educational requirements, candidates should pursue an entry-level role in a pharmaceutical research laboratory. Besides this, you can also choose to work as an intern before or after graduation to understand how laboratories work and determine if the workplace and environment are suitable for you.


Pharmaceutical scientists are incredibly valuable worldwide. These professionals are responsible for discovering, developing, and testing new medications and treatment methods for old and new health disorders. A pharmaceutical scientist’s salary and career prospects are far higher than those of others in similar fields.

See Also

Medical Billing and Coding Salary

Pharmaceutical Company Grants

Rheumatology Research Grants

How to Register for NRMP?

Biomedical Science Research

How to Become a Neurologist?

CPT Code 99214

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