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Career Resources — Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals

Industry Overview

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry ranges from large companies with many approved drugs on the market, to firms that are newer that have products in development but not on the market, to generic drug manufacturers.  Pharmaceuticals refer to medicines made of small synthetically produced molecules.  The top 10 pharmaceutical companies account for 60 percent of total sales. Most biotech companies are small, research-oriented companies dedicated to applying genetics and other biological systems to curing disease. Some of the large pharmaceutical companies are acquiring the small biotech companies thus blurring the dividing line between the two industries. Pharmaceutical companies often mass market their products to a broad patient population by a network of sales representatives. Biotech products are more often targeted to small populations with rare diseases and require specialty sales representatives with a higher degree of scientific knowledge.  Medical equipment and device manufacturers are considered a subsector of the industry.


Vault provides in-depth intelligence on what it's really like to work in an industry, company or profession—and how to position yourself for success. You may also wish to read the Vault Guide to Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Jobs, and the Vault Guide to Biotech. What you can find:

  • Background 
  • Structure
  • Outlook
  • Resources and Professional Associations
  • Related: Professions, Industries and Companies

O*Net provides students with comprehensive information about jobs within the different industries. Required skills include:

  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Writing
Occupations matching "Biotechnology" This is a targeted Google search for the term "biotechnology"
Occupations matching "pharmaceuticals This is a targeted Google search for the term "pharmaceuticals"
Occupational Outlook Handbook This is a guide to career, training information, labor market and salaries

Further Education

The next steps for furthering education depends on what position you are entering in this industry. Some positons just require a BS, while others require an MS, MBA, MD, PhD. There are various education and employment opportunities for students, for more information visit the Education Portal.