Written by Bassem Toeama

Biotechnology and pharmaceutical corporations are managed with different strategies for optimal utilization of resources. This includes blending and/or segregation of departments, which in turn leads to diversification of career pathways available to life science graduates interested in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. From my position as a pharmacovigilance specialist at Axiom Real-Time Metrics, I acquired an in-depth perception of the different career pathways in the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industry. I will walk you through these career pathways.

According to the Canadian life sciences database, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industrial sector constitutes 52.4% of the Canadian Life Sciences, Biotechnology, Medtech, and Pharma area (Retrieved from http://www.canadianlifesciences.com/ca/portal/stats_sectors.php). The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry labour market information report published by BioTalent Canada in September 2013 showed that over half of Canada’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are located in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. Life science graduates constitute 16.4% of Canada’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical industrial sector workforce. The two main departments of Canada’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies that recruit life science graduates are the clinical operations department and the research and development (R&D) department. When employment type was subsectored by total gross revenue (TGR), it was found that the clinical operations employees are hired significantly more as term employees in companies with TGR less than $1M and slightly more as full time employees (FTEs) in companies with TGR more than $1M, while the R&D employees are mostly FTEs regardless of the TGR. New life science graduates seeking employment opportunities in the clinical operations department should consider the large sized biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies 1st as potential employers compared to the contract research organizations and small to medium sized biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies (Retrieved from https://www.biotalent.ca/sites/biotalent/files/PDF/Sequencing/Sequencing_the_data_ENG_Sept19_2013.pdf).

The clinical operations department conducts all clinical drug development and post-market related tasks and activities, while the R&D department delivers all tasks and activities related to preclinical drug development. Life science jobs belonging to either department are categorized according to their functional areas. In any case, when applying for a job, new life science graduates must read the job description thoroughly, ask themselves if they can do the posted tasks and duties, and match the required knowledge, skills and experience with their educational qualifications and technical skills which they have acquired during academia. More importantly, they must determine if they have the keywords mentioned in the job description or not.

In the next few blogs, I will explain in depth the tasks and responsibilities of the different life science jobs and relate them with the required knowledge, experience, and set of soft skills.




Written by LSCDS Exec Member Bassem Toeama

As a former Pharmacovigilance Specialist at Axiom Real-Time Metrics, Bassem has learned the ins and outs of working at a biotechnology/pharmaceutical company. He shares his knowledge and expertise in a Blog Series on the LSCDS website.