What’s It About
Pharmaceutical manufacturing is a complex process, with several stages and high skills requirements in many, but not all, roles. Generally the technology and infrastructure you will be working with will be highly advanced. The tasks undertaken in the production process may include chemical synthesis to create the medicine itself, preparing the medicine by mixing it with other agents or creating tablets.
Tablet making often involves two stages, compressing the medicine into tablet form, then coating the tablet. Each of these steps will require different skills and types of experience, meaning many different career paths are available and the range of STEM qualifications which can help you obtain an entry level role is quite broad.
Biopharma in Ireland
Biopharma is one of the largest industrial employers in Ireland with many of the largest biopharma multinationals operating here. Most of these operations’ focus on the production of pharmaceuticals, but research & development and important administration tasks are carried out in Ireland too. Since the first companies opened in the 1960’s the sector has grown enormously, with billons invested in facilities and a significant pool of young experienced talent available.
There are a broad range of roles in pharmaceutical production, ranging from production process jobs, where you operate the machinery that produces the product, to more specialised positions. As pharmaceutical science combines many scientific disciplines to discover, develop and make medicines, qualifications as varied as chemistry, biology or engineering are in demand.
There are also specific qualifications in pharmaceutical science as well as postgraduate courses offering more specialised knowledge, which may be essential to advancement. Among those employed are research scientists, chemists, biologists and pharmacists. On the production side you will find engineers and manufacturing operatives.
While a background in science or engineering is important, even essential, for many roles within the sector it is worth remembering that pharmaceutical companies do employ people with a wide range of skills. The smooth operating of any pharmaceutical enterprise will require people with skills in IT, finance, law, marketing or other specialist fields.
Nature of the Work
Pharmaceutical plants are generally safe environments, with high quality standards. Cleanliness and safety are especially high priorities, while some pharmaceuticals may require special precautions to protect staff from infection.
Working in quality control will require you to oversee and maintain the standard of work, machinery and products, while regulatory compliance will ensure strict policies for pharmaceutical goods are adhered to.
The qualifications you aim for will depend on the type of role you want, other important factors will include your work experience, for example if you’ve worked in manufacturing in another sector as well as your career goals. The sensitivity and complexity of creating and producing pharmaceuticals means significant on the job training will be required.Pharmaceutical companies are innovative environments, as a result the techniques and technology you work with will be cutting edge and there will be great demand placed on you to develop your skillset and take ownership of your own work. You can prepare for this by perusing upskilling opportunities and staying aware of trends in the industry.