Pharmaceutical Careers Outlook
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry is expected to grow by about 26 percent through 2014, which is faster than the average for all other industries (14 percent). The impact of economic downturns on the pharmaceuticals industry is less than other industries, mainly because many people depend on pharmaceuticals for their health and well-being.
Factors that affect the growth of the pharmaceutical industry include the rising costs of research and development and shorter exclusivity periods (the amount of time a drug company can hold a patent on a particular drug). The rise of managed health care programs, governmental pressure on pharmaceutical manufacturers to cut drug prices, mergers and acquisitions, and the production of generic drug substitutes are also greatly affecting the industry. Generic drugs have more than doubled their share of the prescription market in recent years. In addition, manufacturing methods are constantly improving, which reduced the time it takes to deliver a drug to market.
Faster than average growth is anticipated for professional specialty occupations—especially life and physical scientists in research and development and systems analysts, biostatisticians, and computer support specialists. In production, growth will occur for crushing and mixing machine operators, hand packers and packaging, and industrial machinery mechanics. Employment of administrative support and clerical workers is expected to experience little or no change as companies streamline operations and increasingly rely on computers. Sales and marketing is a growing segment of the pharmaceutical industry, and should provide an increasing number of opportunities as drug companies continue to face strong competition in both domestic and foreign markets. Fifty-nine percent of the pharmaceutical industry’s employees work for firms with more than 500 workers. Most jobs are in California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Jobs should be plentiful for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. The growing elderly population will require the production of new medications and treatments and more pharmacists to dispense these prescriptions. The increasing popularity of “lifestyle” drugs that treat non-life-threatening conditions and that boost self-confidence will also safeguard the future of jobs in this field. More chain supermarkets will open pharmacies, and many of these pharmacies will stay open 24 hours to meet demand. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) reports that drug sales reached $230.2 billion in 2005, up 4.6 percent from the previous year. The NACDS also reports that the number of prescriptions in 2005—3.38 billion—an increase of 3.3 percent from 2004.
Ethnobotany, an emerging subfield in pharmaceuticals, should stimulate competition and job growth. Qualified pharmaceutical workers in all fields will be needed as the pharmaceutical industry rushes to take advantage of the rapidly diminishing biodiversity of the world, especially in tropical regions. Good opportunities should exist for chemists, pharmacologists, biologists, science technicians, research and development managers, and marketing and sales workers. Those with doctoral degrees will have the best employment prospects in this continually lucrative field. In production, growth will occur for crushing and mixing machine operators, hand packers and packaging, and industrial machinery mechanics.
- Chemical Engineers
- Chemical Technicians
- Drug Developers
- Genetic Scientists
- Laboratory Testing Technicians
- Medical Laboratory Technicians
- Nuclear Medicine Technologists
- Pharmaceutical Industry Workers
- Pharmacy Technicians
- Senior Care Pharmacists