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Pharmaceutical Research Job Description

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The development of new drugs and medical treatment programs is the responsibility of workers in the pharmaceutical research field. These scientists and technicians use their understanding of chemistry, biology, physics and human anatomy to invent new drugs and products. Their efforts can shape the way people live and how illnesses and injuries are treated.


Pharmaceutical researchers can conduct research in a wide array of fields. They can use their knowledge of science to develop new chemicals, study the bio-mechanical processes of the human body, study plants or animals for insights into how the natural world functions or even study the physical reactions of processes at the atomic level. These workers can design and carry out laboratory experiments, study natural events in the field or supervise animal and human testing of new products. The actual manufacturing of these drugs and medicines is often the last stage of the pharmaceutical research process, and much of the work that goes into it is basic research into how the human body works and how illnesses can be treated.


Many entry-level jobs in pharmaceutical research require applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry or other science. Many positions may require a master's and even a doctoral degree. Having a strong background in laboratory techniques, study design and research methods is required.


Pharmaceutical researchers must have a strong base of knowledge in at least one area of science. A creative, innovative mind is needed to develop new solutions to human health problems. The ability to work solely with other members of a research team and to convey often complicated information in a team environment requires strong interpersonal and communication skills. Researchers need a keen attention to detail and the ability to eavluate problems critically and analytically.

Work Environment

Most pharmaceutical researchers work in a comfortable indoor work environment, either in an office or laboratory setting. Some of these workers may conduct tests or research expeditions in the field, requiring extended work periods, though most have a standard 40-hour work week.

Salary and Jobs

Demand for chemists and material scientists is expected to be slower than average from 2012 to 2022, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical scientists can expect more job opportunities, with a growth rate of 13 percent, closer to the 11 percent average for all occupations. The median salary for chemists and materials scientists was $73,060 in 2012, and for medical scientists, $76,980.


Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.

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