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Careers in STEM Q4 2023

Exploring STEM careers: unveiling opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry

Medical Science Laboratory
Medical Science Laboratory
iStock / Getty Images Plus / gorodenkoff

Andrew Croydon

Director, Education and Examination Policy & Partnerships, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)

When we talk about careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), pursuing traditional STEM roles within the pharmaceutical industry is not necessarily the connection that students make.


Visions of medics, engineers or environmental advisors are often the first thoughts in the minds of aspiring students in STEM. Yet, because the pharmaceutical industry drives every stage in the research, discovery, development and manufacture of medicines and vaccines, it hosts a wealth of opportunities for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, research and data scientists, technicians, financial and environmental analysts, quality control specialists, engineers — and many more STEM professions.

Global pharmaceutical career development

Companies also host a wide range of non-STEM roles in HR, legal, communications and marketing. Furthermore, since the industry operates globally, with most companies conducting research and having operations in several parts of the world, there is usually a clear path to career development through international opportunities.

We also have a part to play in working towards a sustainable future for the planet; the industry is a leader in developing sustainable research, manufacturing and waste reduction techniques. Companies are also continually making strides towards sustainability through the ‘greenification’ of existing roles, by adapting jobs to focus on environmental responsibility.

The focus on patients is the most rewarding
aspect of a career in pharmaceuticals.

Inclusive pharmaceutical environment

Pharmaceutical companies are also natural champions of diversity, as their work depends on collaboration driven by varied perspectives. Companies in the sector create environments where differences are celebrated and used to propel advances in their work, whether researching treatments for specific populations, dispelling myths or finding ways to tailor the presentation of medicines to help cohorts of patients with different needs get the best possible outcomes.

Become part of the pharmaceutical industry

The focus on patients is the most rewarding aspect of a career in pharmaceuticals. From early-stage research all the way to advanced manufacturing, industry professionals are driven by the knowledge that their work has a vital impact on the health and wellbeing of people at home and around the world. If this sounds appealing, visit ‘Careers in the pharmaceutical industry’ (abpi.org.uk) to find out more. The pharmaceutical industry really does have something to offer everyone in search of making a difference in the world — whether you have a STEM background or not or whether you choose the university or vocational route. A diverse, rewarding and impactful journey lies ahead.

Visit abpi.org.uk to read about pharmaceutical industry opportunities.

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