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 will explain how to become a successful pharmaceutical scientist, the certifications and qualifications required, and the advantages of the career.

What is a Pharmaceutical Scientist

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

These professionals spend most of their time in laboratories testing the interactions of various compounds with 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 to determine whether 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 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 better understand the newly discovered medicinal drug’s efficacy.
  • 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.

As of 2024, the average salary for a Pharmaceutical Scientist in the United States varies significantly. PayScale reports an average salary of $80,974, while Glassdoor provides an estimated total pay of $140,705 annually, with an average salary of $121,012 annually. lists the average Pharmaceutical Scientist salary as $57,331, but the range typically falls between $51,906 and $64,752. (1), (2), (3)

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

A successful pharmaceutical scientist must most commonly be able to collect, analyze, and interpret complex data numbers that help build effective and safe patient medications.

You should pay close 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.

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

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 skills above and the 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 focus on numerous 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.

In the development stage, scientists are engaged in finding ingredients that can help make new medications. In the manufacturing stage, pharmaceutical scientists 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. 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

Follow us