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Job Roles in Pharmaceutical Companies


The pharmaceutical industry is full of highly skilled individuals who possess a wealth of expertise, experience and ambition.

The UK pharma industry alone employs nearly 300,000 people, making it one of the biggest employers in the country. Employees within this industry also add more per head to the UK economy than any other sector, making it one of the most-valued fields to work in.

But what jobs are available within the pharmaceutical industry and who exactly works in pharmaceutical companies? Well, if you're interested in working in the pharma industry and looking to learn more about the roles available to you, you've come to the right place!

So, let's take a look at what jobs are on offer within this vital industry.

Job Roles in Pharmaceuticals

When it comes to working in the pharma industry, positions are often categorised into four main areas. These are:

  • Research & Development (R&D)
  • Manufacturing & Supply
  • Commercial
  • Support


Research & Development

R&D within the pharmaceutical industry involves the first stages of research into molecules used to treat diseases all the way through to introducing products to the general public.

It is the most research-intensive sector in the UK, with around £4.1bn spent on R&D in 2016. The focus for individuals who work within an R&D role is to discover new leads in innovative medicines. This work is often conducted by scientists who specialise in particular areas; these include pharmacology (of course), toxicology, genetics and statistics.


Manufacturing & Supply

As mentioned above, research and development are mainly focused on the initial stages of making new medicines available to the public. When products are moved on from this stage, manufacturing and supply take over, and these are equally important. Workers within this area of pharmaceuticals include engineers, manufacturers and quality control. These individuals are responsible for supporting product production so that companies can meet both quantity and regulatory demand. Roles within manufacturing and supply come with strong commercial pressures, and constant advances in technology must be taken advantage of to improve efficiency even further.



Commercial roles within pharma companies concentrate on promoting the medicines that these companies produce. However, unlike the vast majority of normal products, prescription medicines are not allowed to be advertised to the general public in the UK. Instead, companies must promote their products to doctors who then decide whether or not to prescribe the medicines to their patients.

Promotion of medicines usually takes place within medical journals, presentations and conferences; however, the majority of information on new products comes from representatives who work within sales and marketing. Sales managers, communication professionals and economic experts all work together with the joint aim of promoting new medicines.



Just like any other business or organisation, the pharmaceutical industry requires a certain level of administrative support in order to be successful. Common roles include legal experts, who ensure that patents are taken out for the structure and synthesis of medicines; statisticians, who monitor process controls and make sure that studies are producing valid results; and regulatory affairs professionals, who collate information when it is needed to make medicines ready for approval.

These are the four main areas of work within pharmaceutical companies. The most suitable area for you will depend on your previous experience, qualifications and interests.

For more information on the pharma industry and its highest-paid jobs, take a look at our previous blogs below:

We are always recruiting for roles within the pharma industry - click the button below to browse the latest vacancies!

Pharmaceutical Jobs

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