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Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be atrracted to the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design activities, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.

Careers in the BioPharmaChemical Sector

Careers in the BioPharmaChemical Sector

What are the main occupations in this sector?

There are good reasons to consider a career in Ireland’s pharmaceutical sector. In addition to a wide diversity of career opportunities, statistics from the CSO show that workers in the sector earn on average almost 30% more than the national average.

The industry provides a stable and secure career environment for graduates to gain multinational experience right on their own doorstep and to participate in the global effort to improve and prolong people’s lives.

Ireland’s success in attracting biotechnology companies here adds another exciting dimension to the careers on offer. Biotechnology uses biological systems or cells to make or modify products that can be used as medicines and will generate many more medicines in the future, many of which will be personalised for individual use. As the industry here moves towards being increasingly knowledge-led in all its activities, the prospects for employees and the economy are considerable and

The following list broad categories of activities in the industry outline some of the jobs and career opportunities currently available: 


This is the starting point for a new medicine. Because many diseases still cannot yet be cured or because existing treatment may cause unwanted side effects, new medicines that work in different ways are constantly being sought.

  • Chemists, biologists, pharmacologists IT specialists and a variety of other science disciplines work in teams to try to identify chemical compounds which might eventually become a medicine.


Once a chemical compound has been found which could possibly work to treat the target disease, a variety of tests must be carried out to ensure that the compound can be made on a viable scale, formulated into a medicine and given to patients without causing them harm. This work takes several years and involves a variety of different people, mainly scientists and

  • Analytical Chemists,
  • Development Chemists, Process Chemists,
  • Pharmacists, Biologists, Validation Scientists,
  • Microbiologists, Product Development Scientists,
  • Process Development Scientists.


To ensure the medicine works safely and effectively, it is first tested on animals before moving on to ‘Phase One’ trials on human beings. At this stage doctors and scientists first, determine the correct dose to give to human volunteers and then carry out controlled trials in patients suffering from the disease.

  • Clinical Research
  • Specialist/Associates, Clinical Monitor, Clinical
  • Trials Specialist, Compliance Specialist, Laboratory
  • Technician, Documentation and Compliance
  • Scientist, Regulatory Affairs Officer/Manager,
  • Quality Assurance Specialist, Validation Specialist,
  • Quality and Compliance Specialist, Medical Scientist,
  • Formulation Scientist, Doctor, Nurse.


Manufacturing the medicine involves making the chemical compound and then mixing it with other substances to make a tablet, cream or aerosol that enable patients to take it.

Safety and quality assurance is paramount, demanding constant vigilance and careful controls at every step.

Scientists, engineers, IT specialists and many others are involved in both.


  • Process Development
  • Chemist, Quality Control Analysts/Supervisor,


Engineers do everything from designing and commissioning new machinery (and the buildings to house them) to operating and maintaining existing


  • Process and Project Engineer,
  • Quality Assurance Systems Co-ordinator,
  • Chemical Engineer, Production Engineer,
  • Mechanical Engineer,
  • Physics
  • Laboratory Technician,
  • Validation Officer, Production Operator, Validation Engineer


Patenting medicines and preventing copying is vital to financing research and ensuring such investment is made in the future. The research-based industry relies heavily on patent protection to sustain the development of new effective medicines. Patenting is carried out by specialists working within the industry, bringing together law and science disciplines.


  • Copyright and Intellectual Property Specialist,
  • Lawyer,
  • Pharmacist


Scientists in regulatory affairs draw together information on tests that have been carried out on the drug substance and use this information to apply for permission to carry out clinical trials and to market the medicine.


  • Regulatory Affairs Specialist/Manager, Quality and Regulatory Affairs Engineer,
  • Research Scientist, Process Development Chemist,
  • Formulation Scientist, Pharmacist


Pharmacists are crucial in every stage of drug development into a suitable form for use, from checking the medicines’ stability, providing supplies for clinical trails and working with people from secondary manufacturing plants, to ensuring that formulation can be scaled up for volume production, and is appropriately packaged.


  • Quality Control Chemist,
  • Pharmacist, Regulatory Affairs Specialist


Researching and developing new medicines would not be unsustainable if doctors were not aware of new medicines and what they can do for patients, both by providing new solutions and improving existing ones. Medical sales representatives visit hospitals and GPs’ surgeries to inform doctors about the benefits of the new medicines their companies produce.


  • Marketing Manager,
  • Medical Sales Representatives/Specialists,
  • Hospital Sales Representative/Specialist,
  • Communications Specialists


The swift exchange and recording of information is critical throughout the development and manufacturing process, so IT has an increasingly critical role to play in every facet of medicine. The development of more customised medicines in the future that rely on patient information will increasingly rely on the work of IT professionals.


  • Process/Systems Analyst,
  • Development Engineer, Validation engineer,
  • Application Support Specialists, Project Managers,
  • Analyst Programmers


With the pharmaceutical industry’s investments and income running into the billions, effective accounting and finance management is an exciting area. Ireland has seen a number of pharmaceutical companies add their European financial operations to their activities here, creating opportunities at every level from controls to banking.


HR supports the people behind the scientific work, helping to make the most of their talent and training. In HR, you will find yourself recruiting for many different roles and developing the skills of a huge range of people.


  • HR Manager
  • HR generals,
  • Recruitment consultants,
  • Trainers

What types of employment contracts are there?

Employment contracts range from permanent, temporary, part time, job sharing to fixed term.

What are the typical earnings of these occupations?

A graduate Chemist can expect to start on around €30,000 and a graduate Engineer on around €38,000.

Salaries increase quite rapidly as experience is acquired.

Most companies provide a good range of benefits, pension schemes etc.

Employment conditions tend to be excellent in most cases.

How do you get a job in this sector?

  • Contact your university careers office
  • Keep an eye on the newspapers
  • Contact employment agencies that specialise in the sector
  • Visit the websites of the major companies