Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Sarah Tenanty from Insurance to give some advice for people considering this job:

Sarah Tenanty

Finance Operations


Read more

Sarah Tenanty
Work hard, push your boundaries, have belief in your abilities, set personal goals and seek feedback. For those who have not completed a college degree or third level education – seek a career path that will give you the opportunity to further your education and learning.

The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
All Courses
PLC Progression Routes
PLC Points Calculator
CAO Points Calculator
CAO Video Guide

Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute
Athlone Institute of Technology - AIT
University College Cork - UCC
Career Interviews
Sector Profiles
School Subjects (LC)
College Courses
Study Skills
Work Experience (School)
CV & Interview Preparation

Chemical, Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences

logo imagelogo image
Return to List
Chemical, Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Chemical, Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Work & Employment
Employment Trends
Occupations in Demand
Sample Occupations
Education & Training
Further Ed/PLC Courses
Higher Ed/ CAO Courses
Post Grad Courses
Sector Experts

At a Glance... header image

Chemical, Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences

The Chemical, Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences are rapidly developing fields within in the sciences. They are also significant industries and employment sectors, both in Ireland and worldwide. Career opportunities and occupations in this sector span from how to make medicines and control the quality of those medicines, to the research and development of new drugs and therapies. 

careers in science

The Chemical, Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences reach far and wide - from the food sector to the environment - offering many exciting and innovative career paths.

Source: EFGSN Secretariat, DJEI, in Future Skills Needs of the Biopharma Industry in Ireland, August 2016

Opportunities with Irish in this Sector
Chemical Science & Engineering header image

Chemical or process engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the application of physical science (e.g. chemistry and physics), with mathematics, to the process of converting raw materials or chemicals into more useful or valuable forms. In addition to producing useful materials, chemical engineering is also concerned with pioneering valuable new materials and techniques, an important form of research and development.

Engineers Ireland is the professional body for Chemical and Processing engineers and engineering.

Chemical engineering largely involves the design and maintenance of chemical processes for large-scale manufacture. Chemical engineers in this branch are usually employed under the title of Process engineer. The development of the large-scale processes characteristic of industrialised economies is a feat of chemical engineering, not chemistry. Indeed, chemical engineers are responsible for the availability of the modern high-quality materials that are essential for running an industrial economy.

The difference between chemical engineering and process engineering lies in the emphasis of the degree course: while chemical engineers concentrate mainly on chemical processes, process engineers deal primarily with the plants needed for this, their design and technical conditions.

Chemical engineering is responsible for the production of chemicals for use in our everyday lives. Chemical Engineers work in a wide range of areas including:

  • Water and waste water treatment
  • Oil refinement and petrochemicals
  • Electricity generation
  • Food and beverage production
  • Cosmetics and textiles
Chemical and process engineers are in demand by the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in areas ranging from environmental protection and the food industry, to plant construction. In the oil industry, for example, they supervise refineries; in the cosmetics industry, they make sure that skin creams do not go mouldy even without preservatives or that nail varnish is long-lasting.

Chemical and process engineers often work on projects with mechanical engineers, materials scientists or electro-technical engineers. The role of the process engineer is to maintain a good overview of the work.

The chemical and biopharmaceutical industries continue to be among the fastest growing sectors in Ireland. Nine of the top ten companies globally (Pfizer, Merck, GSK, J&J, Novartis, Roche, Amgen, Eli Lilly and BMS) have research, manufacturing and services activities here.

The National Skills Bulletin Report lists Chemical and Product Formulation Engineers and Analysts among the most frequently cited difficult to source engineering occupations, with reference to the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical devices and chemical industries sectors.

Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
The Little Book of Irish Science  - 100 things you should know ...

From Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)
Featured Content


Biomedical Science & Engineering header image

The term 'biomedical' refers to the combination of biology and medicine towards maintaining and improving both animal and human health.

The fields of Biomedical Science and Biomedical Engineering are similar in that they are both transdisciplinary, and they both apply scientific principles to healthcare.

Engineers Ireland is the professinal body for Biomendical Engineers in Ireland. The Academy of Clinical Science and Laboratory Medicine (ACSLM), is the professional body for Medical Scientists here.

Biomedical Science
Biological Scientists are researchers, with a focus on advancing theoretical knowledge. They investigate samples of tissue and body fluids. Their work is largely laboratory based.

It is important to note that, in the UK, Biomedical Scientist is the title of the scientists who work in diagnostic clinical laboratories. In Ireland, the title of Biomedical Scientist is for a scientist who works in research, with only Medical Scientists allowed to work in clinical laboratories. 

Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical engineers work in the same field but their focus is on solutions to improve patient care. Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering principles and techniques to the medical field. It combines the design and problem solving skills of engineering with medical and biological sciences to help improve patient health care and the quality of life of individuals.

As a relatively new discipline, much of the work in biomedical engineering consists of research and development, covering an array of fields: bioinformatics, medical imaging, image processing, physiological signal processing, biomechanicsbiomaterials and bioengineeringsystems analysis, 3-D modeling, etc. Examples of concrete applications of biomedical engineering are the development and manufacture of biocompatible prostheses, medical devices, diagnostic devices and imaging equipment such as MRIs and EEGs, and pharmaceutical drugs.

Biomedical engineers are found at the forefront of technological advancements in improving healthcare. They may be involved in:
  • The design and development of medical instruments and equipment.
  • Researching the engineering aspects of biological systems.
  • Researching new materials for medical products.
  • Adapting or designing computer hardware and software for medical uses.
  • Designing technology to assist people with disabilities.
Biomedical engineers can work in hospitals, in manufacturing plants and in research and development environments.
Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
The Little Book of Irish Science  - 100 things you should know ...

From Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)
Featured Content


Pharmaceutical Science header image

The pharmaceutical sector is established in Ireland since the 1960s. The industry traditionally manufactured Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs). The trend now is in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. The industry is focussed on discovering, developing, manufacturing and promoting medicines to improve people’s health and quality of life.

It is estimated that 28,200 people were employed in the Biopharma Industry in 2015. Of these, some 21,500 were engaged in Pharma manufacturing and related services while 6,700 were employed in Biologics manufacturing.

The primary difference between Biologics drugs and Pharmaceuticals drugs is the method by which the drugs are produced. The former are manufactured in living organisms, whereas the latter are manufactured through a series of chemical synthetic steps.

View Full Industry Profile Here

Pharmacutical companies employ people with a wide range of skills. Many are scientists, chemists, biologists and pharmacists. Others are engineers or manufacturing operatives, or may have qualifications in IT, finance, law, marketing or other specialist fields.

Pharmaceutical science combines abroad range of scientific disciplines to discover, develop, test, make and sell medicines. A wide range of third level courses are available to support people that wish to make a career in this sector in Ireland.

Check out the Education & Training menu on this page to explore college courses related to the Chemical, Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences

It takes about 12 years for a new medicine to go through the tests that are required before it can be prescribed by doctors. During this time hundreds of different people are involved, and the medicine passes through a large number of tests, designed to check that the medicine will work on the disease it is intended for, and that it will be safe for people to take.

Why work in the Pharma sector?

There are many reasons to work in the pharmaceutical industry:

  • The pharmaceutical and chemical industry is a strong and vibrant sector.
  • The industry is highly advanced, continuously investing in the latest technology and state of the art equipment.
  • It’s a very sociable environment and many companies promote sports and social activities and charity events.
  • PharmaChemical Companies are committed to supporting education in the community. Many link with local schools, to help promote science and encourage young people to further their education.
  • The industry offers great career opportunities for employees. With the majority of the big multinational companies based in Ireland, Irish graduates have the unique opportunity to gain multinational experience right on their own door step.
  • Statistics from the CSO show that workers in the PharmaChemical industry earn on average almost 30% more than the national average.
  • By working in the industry, individual can use their talents and experience in an industry that creates opportunities to save and improve people lives around the world.
As a result of the growth in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical device industries in Ireland, it is very likely that a student about to graduate with a third level qualification in science will find interesting employment in one of the following areas:

Research and Development - This is a challenging and exciting area to work in and involves the initial stage of discovery right through to manufacturing and having the product ready for the market. Opportunities in research are open to all graduates who have obtained a science degree. There is huge collaboration between industry, third level colleges and universities in this area as the government has recognized the importance of R&D to our future economic growth.

The government is committed to investing in this area and will continue to do so in the future. Working as part of a science team made up of different specialists is the normal working background for the Research scientist. The work requires attention to detail, good organisational skills and the ability to comprehend and communicate complex data clearly.

With 9 of the top 10 Pharmaceutical and 15 of the top 25 Medical technology companies now operating in Ireland, job opportunities and research work in this sector continue to have strong prospects. There are skills shortages in the sector and Ireland requires many more researchers than the country is currently producing.

The Report of the Research Prioritisation Group set out a pathway for government spending in Research, Development and Innovation for the sector, to ensure that it continues to thrive. Those with the talent, interest and an enquiring mind will find rewarding career opportunities and will most definitely be in demand in this area.

Manufacturing - New scientific products such as drugs, pharmaceuticals or sophisticated medical devices require a massive amount of research and testing before they can proceed to the production stage. Careers in this sector include Laboratory technician, Quality control technician, Product/process technician, Environmental technician and Research scientist.

Major employers include the food processing, health care, pharmaceutical and chemical industries as well as state, semi-state and local authorities.In the case of drugs or pharmaceutics, when the product being researched is ready for development it requires blending chemical compounds with other ingredients to make the drug available in tablet or cream format. Quality control is vital at this stage. It requires producing the products to meet market demand in a cost effective and quality driven environment and at the same time meeting the highest standards in safety and compliance. For example this would involve ensuring purity and the correct chemical make-up at all stages of production.

Working in a laboratory or on a high tech production team is not for everybody. The attractiveness of having a science qualification, preferable a degree in the area can offer a wide range of diverse opportunities.  These opportunities are not all based on working in the lab.

Commercial - this involves the promotion and selling of the new medicines that the companies produce. People working in this area have a science qualification along with business qualification and relevant experience

Other significant areas include:

Regulation - The production of drugs and pharmaceuticals can bring great benefits to people. They also have the potential to cause great harm. For that reason it is crucial that all pharmaceutical, medical devices, veterinary and cosmetic products be registered with Governments before they can be marketed for sale.

This regulatory area can offer very exciting career prospects.  Working in legal and regulatory affairs involves people preparing all the scientific and technical information to support the product approval process.  This must be done both for the local and global markets.  Employees need to keep abreast of changes in the law and communicating those changes to management and fellow professionals.

Sales and Marketing - This area includes the sales and marketing of science related products. Scientific products can be complex so that those involved in the marketing, sales and after sales support much have the ability to understand complex technical information and be able to accurately communicate it. This can include dealing with queries on how best to use the product, how to operate the device safely, briefing doctors, patients or customers about new medicines or products that come onto the market. 

Scientific Journalism and Documentation - Medical writers are mainly employed by pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms. They are required to write reports, which include drug registration, promotional literature, training manuals and scientific studies.

If you have a flair for writing and a strong scientific background, then scientific journalism could offer career possibilities. This type of career would involve a good deal of research, a good scientific degree and a flair for communication and writing.

Teaching and Training - If you enjoy science and would like to communicate your knowledge to the next generation, then a career in teaching may be for you. As well as the normal route into second level teaching by taking a Science degree followed by a H.Dip (Higher Diploma) there are a number of specialist courses now available to train science teachers. The continued expansion of the IT sector also offers teaching possibilities.

The Little Book of Irish Science  - 100 things you should know ...

From Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)
Featured Content


Forensic Science header image

Forensic Science is the use or application of science as evidence in a court of law. It is a multidisciplinary subject, drawing principally on chemistry and biology, but also physics, geology, psychology, and the social sciences.

Forensic science is not a discipline or branch of science - it is a catch-all for many distinct scientific disciplines that may be used to help in the determination of a court case, either civil or criminal.

Forensic science can be divided into the three broad groups of medical science, laboratory science and field science, though these are not exclusive divisions and there is overlap:

  • Field sciences - these include crime scene investigation, which incorporates areas such as fire and explosion scenes and clandestine drug laboratories. Fingerprints and firearms examination are also included.
  • Medical sciences include pathology, psychiatry, psychology, forensic medicine, ontodology (dentistry), anthropology and entomology. Forensic medical examiners, who deal with the living and forensic pathologists, who deal with the dead, are qualified medical practitioners who, having completed their training as doctors, choose to specialise in either field. Forensic odontologists are qualified dentists who have undergone additional training and who provide expert evidence on dentistry.
  • Laboratory sciences - these include chemistry, biology, toxicology, illicit drug analysis, questioned documents, and increasingly electronic or computer crime.

Examples of forensic science include the use of gas chromatography to identify seized drugs, DNA profiling to help identify a murder suspect from a bloodstain found at a crime scene, and laser Raman spectroscopy to identify microscopic paint fragments.

Some Science Degree courses include a module on this area, while dedicated degrees are also available through a number of IoTs around the country.

Featured Content


Career Videosheader image

Course Videos header image

Useful Links header image
Total Records: 14
Full Address
Phone Number
31 Old Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland
(01) 677 5602
Clinical Engineering Dept., Naas General Hospital, Co. Kildare
(045) 843 116
Dublin Institute of Technology, Kevin Street, Dublin 8
(01) 4024562
17, St. Andrew's Street, Dublin, 2.
1890 200 191
East Point Business Park, Dublin, 3.
(01) 727 2000
Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, 8
(01) 666 2910
PO Box 9322, Cardiff Lane, Dublin, 2.
Earlsfort Centre, Earlsfort House, Dublin, 2.
(01) 676 4971
East Point, Dublin, 3.
(01) 727 2668
18 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
(01) 218 4000
Confederation House, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2
(01) 605 1584
Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2.
(01) 607 3200
UCD, Belfield, Dublin, 4.
(01) 716 2243

Job Search

By Career Sector

Current Jobs