Pharmacist making notes of the medication stock

How to get into the pharmaceutical industry

Roles in the pharmaceutical industry are highly sought after. This is because the industry is relatively stable, in fact many consider it to be recession proof. Businesses in the pharmaceutical industry research, develop and manufacture medicines and pharmaceutical products. These products are in high demand, driving growth in the industry and offering a range of opportunities for both science graduates and non-graduates.

The pharmaceutical industry is unique because it’s highly regulated. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is responsible for evaluating and overseeing most pharmaceutical products marketed and sold in Australia. This means that some aspects of the industry are subject to strict regulations or require specialised skills. There are however some roles within the industry that don’t necessarily require a specialised scientific qualification.


Female scientist in a busy research labR&D involves working in laboratories to develop new medications.

To determine what roles are available, it’s important to understand the different areas within the pharmaceutical industry and the type of opportunities they offer. These include:

  • Research and development: This often involves working in laboratories to develop new medications. Some of the roles in research and development may involve specialising in specific areas of medicine like oncology or neuroscience. Many of the roles in this area require technical qualifications, but laboratory assistants and other similar roles may not require a degree.
  • Clinical trials: Before drugs can be marketed and sold they need to be evaluated to make sure they’re safe and effective. This often occurs in a clinical trial. Many different people are involved in clinical trials including scientists and research associates, as well as pharmacists and nurses.
  • Manufacturing: Once new medications have been developed they need to be produced en masse. There are a wide range of roles involved in the manufacturing process from engineers to manufacturing operators to production staff.
  • Quality assurance and control: It’s essential to make sure products meet the requisite quality standards before they’re made available to consumers. Quality engineers, technicians and documentation specialists are involved in this process.
  • Sales and marketing: Pharmaceutical sales and marketing requires specific knowledge and understanding of the regulatory environment. These roles are sought after because they often don’t require a scientific or technical qualification.


Capsule in production line of pharmaceutical industry Nutritionals is another industry similar to the pharmaceutical industry. 

There are also some industries that are similar to the pharmaceutical industry and require similar skills. These include:

  • Nutritionals: This industry develops nutritional products rather than medication. This may include things like health supplements or powdered milk for babies.
  • Medical devices: There are many different types of instruments or devices that are used in the medical industry. These include things that test health conditions, like blood glucose monitors, or devices that offer solutions for patients like cochlear hearing implants or contact lenses.

If you’re interested in a role in the pharmaceutical industry, get in touch with us to explore your options.