Departments

Before we consider specific roles, we should first discuss the departments typically found within a pharmaceutical manufacturing company:

  • Production (Manufacturing) – operate the machinery and systems that actually produce the pharmaceutical product. (Approx 50% of  total staff)
  • Validation – assess and document all equipment and processes to ensure that an action, process or system leads to a consistent and reproducible result. (Quality, validation and regulatory affairs in combination typically account for approximately 30% of staff)
  • Quality Assurance – monitor the processes and procedures of manufacturing to make sure they meet predefined standards. (Quality, validation and regulatory affairs in combination typically account for approximately 30% of staff)
  • Quality Control  provide testing and checks throughout the manufacturing process to make sure product standards are maintained.(Quality, validation and regulatory affairs in combination typically account for approximately 30% of staff)
  • Regulatory Affairs – deal with the applications and paperwork surrounding regulations that have to be done before a medicine can be sold to the public. (Quality, validation and regulatory affairs in combination typically account for approximately 30% of staff)
  • Operations – ensures the continuous functioning of the manufacturing plant and its equipment. (Approx 10% of total staff)
  • Research & Development – typically work in labs to identify molecules that could be used in medications, or on current medications to improve them. (0% to 5% of  total staff)
  • Other – includes areas such as Supply Chain, Logistics, Marketing, HR, Warehouse, Finance, etc. (Approx 5% of total staff)

Job Roles in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

The types of roles you’ll be able to apply for, and the salaries associated with them will be influenced by your qualifications and work background. 

Below you’ll find a list of common categories of jobs in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Under each heading are previous employment backgrounds that might make you suitable for these types of jobs, as well as descriptions about specific job roles within that category.

Or perhaps you have No Experience & You’re Not Sure Where to Start – that’s so common, we’ve created a whole section for it. Click the link to jump straight there and find out what jobs might be suitable for you.

In any of the sections, click on a job role link to see an article that explains more about what the job involves within pharmaceutical manufacturing, and what skills you need to be successful.

Each section also includes a link to a page that will give you an idea of potential salaries for those roles.

You can jump directly to a specific job category by clicking the links below, or you can scroll down to see them all:

Manufacturing Roles

These jobs suit:

  • People with previous manufacturing experience from any industry
  • Entry level manufacturing jobs can also be a good entry point for people changing career with no previous manufacturing experience – check out this section for more information on that

Examples of jobs in this category include:

Process Technician – operates equipment, monitors processes and documents results in strict adherence to protocols. They are involved in all stages of the manufacturing process and in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, their role often occurs within a clean-room environment.

Some companies might call this role:

  • Chemical Process Technician
  • BioProcess Technician
  • Cleanroom Operator

Manufacturing Technician – work in a discrete manufacturing environment, run and maintain factory equipment and assembly processes, monitor and check the product quality and document results in strict adherence to protocols.

Some companies might call this role:

  • Production Technician
  • Manufacturing Operator
  • Production Operator
  • Assembler

Packaging Operator – responsible for taking the finished product of a manufacturing process and ensuring that it is packaged in line with company and industry standards, making it ready for sale or distribution.

Some companies might call this role:

  • Packaging Technician

Production Supervisor – directly responsible for overseeing and organizing the equipment, staff, and processes on a production floor. They will oversee scheduling and routine production activities as well as acting as first-line troubleshooting should problems arise.

Some companies might call this role:

  • Process Supervisor
  • Manufacturing Supervisor

Salary Information:

Click here for salary information for manufacturing/production roles.

How you’d change career to a manufacturing job in pharma:

  • If you don’t have previous experience in a GMP environment (and if you’re not sure what it is, you probably don’t have it), you should start with the 15-week Conversion Course into Pharma Manufacturing
  • If you have GMP experience and are looking to move into more senior roles, get your knowledge academically accredited with the Certificate in eBioPharmaChem

Science Roles

These jobs suit:

  • Those with qualifications in relevant scientific subjects
  • Candidates with previous laboratory experience

Examples of jobs in this category include:

Biochemist – scientific professionals who study and explore the chemical processes with biological organisms. Within the pharmaceutical industry, biochemists are employed within research and development departments as well as within quality teams in manufacturing departments.

Microbiologist – a scientific professional who studies microorganisms. They play a key role in pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing by testing to monitor levels of microbial contamination at all stages of the manufacturing process.

Laboratory Technician – assist industry scientists in their research and testing. This can involve a number of different tasks and these tasks can vary greatly between roles. Within the pharmaceutical industry, laboratory technicians can be employed in research and development or in production and manufacturing. As a result, the work can be based in a laboratory or on a production line, depending on the specific responsibilities of the role.

Salary information:

Click here for salary information for science roles.

How you’d change career to a science job in pharma:

  • If you want to work in R&D, you’ll need a degree level or post-graduate qualification in a relevant scientific discipline
  • If you want to work in manufacturing science roles, you’ll also need to understand the rules and regulations of pharma manufacturing. See the 15-week Conversion Course into Pharmaceutical Manufacturing for more details

Quality Roles

These jobs suit:

  • Candidates with experience in similar quality roles in other industries
  • Quality control roles might suit candidates with laboratory science qualifications/experience
  • Candidates with previous pharmaceutical manufacturing experience, looking to specialise

Examples of jobs in this category include:

Documentation Specialist – the individual responsible for the writing, distribution, collection, storage, and maintenance of a company’s documentation. In highly regulated industries, these activities are a requirement for regulatory compliance.

Some companies might call this role:

  • Document Controller
  • Documentation Coordinator

Quality Assurance Specialist – monitors and records results from processes and procedures within manufacturing industries. Results are continually compared to predetermined expected ranges and any deviation from expected results leads to corrective measures.

Some companies might call this role:

  • QA Associate
  • Quality Assurance (QA) Technician
  • QA Specialist

Quality Control Analyst – tests the product of a manufacturing process to ensure that it meets predefined criteria. The completion of this quality check ensures that the final product is safe to release for sale or distribution.

Some companies might call this role:

  • QC Associate
  • Quality Control (QC) Technician
  • QC Specialist

Quality Engineer – works within the quality team to ensure the overall quality of a manufactured product and are tasked with creating documentation, devising quality tests and defining the criteria a test result should meet. They play a key role in fixing issues when they arise.

Some companies might call this role:

  • QA Engineer
  • QC Engineer

Salary information:

Click here for salary information for quality roles.

How you’d change career to a quality job in pharma:

Engineering Roles

These jobs suit:

  • Candidates with an engineering qualification

Examples of jobs in this category include:

Instrumentation Engineer – provision of computer programming and instrumentation support as well as designing and developing specialised instrumentation and equipment as required.

Manufacturing Engineer – responsible for development, design, implementation, and monitoring of equipment, tools, and machinery used in the manufacturing process. Their primary goal is to create the stages of a manufacturing system that ultimately produces a product in the most time-efficient and cost-effective way possible, while always maintaining staff safety and product quality.

Process Engineer – responsible for designing, implementing, controlling and optimizing industrial processes, especially continuous ones within the chemical, petrochemical, agriculture, mineral processing, advanced material, food, pharmaceutical, and biotechnological industries.

Project Engineer – manages technical or engineering projects. They work with stakeholders at all levels, with direct responsibility for budgeting, personnel and project planning.

Salary information:

Click here for salary information for engineering roles.

How you’d change career to an engineering job in pharma:

  • Even with an engineering qualification and engineering work experience, you’ll still need to understand the specific rules and regulations of pharma manufacturing. Check out the 15-week Conversion Course into Pharmaceutical Manufacturing for more details

Maintenance Roles

These jobs suit:

  • Candidates with similar (maintenance) work experience from a different industry
  • Individuals with an appropriate and related qualification

Examples of jobs in this category include:

Calibration Technician – responsible for the routine inspection, testing, maintenance and repair of instruments and manufacturing equipment. The purpose of the calibration technician role is to ensure the accuracy of the measurements taken using this equipment.

Some companies might call this role:

  • Electrical and Instrumentation Technician

Facilities Engineer – can have an extremely broad remit covering the infrastructure of the building, depending on the needs of the company. Areas of direct responsibility might include environmental, health and safety issues, electrical engineering or HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).

Some companies might call this role:

  • Maintenance Engineer

Maintenance Technician – tasked with routine maintenance of manufacturing equipment as well as helping to troubleshoot when issues arise. Due to the regulation of the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, they are required to keep detailed and accurate documentation of their work.

Salary information:

Click here for salary information for maintenance roles.

How you’d change career to a maintenance job in pharma:

  • Even with a maintenance qualification and/or work experience, you’ll still need to understand the specific rules and regulations of pharma manufacturing. Check out the 15-week Conversion Course into Pharmaceutical Manufacturing for more details
  • Those with pharma industry experience looking to move into more senior roles should consider the academically accredited Level 7 Certificate in eBioPharmaChem

Validation Roles

These jobs suit:

  • Candidates with previous pharmaceutical manufacturing experience, looking to specialize
  • People with previous work experience that requires them to read and interpret technical drawings (e.g. Pipe-fitters, Plumbers, Pipe Welders, Piping Supervisors, Boiler Technicians, and Electricians)
  • Those with commissioning and qualification experience from any industry

Examples of jobs in this category include:

Validation Technician – works as part of the Validation team to measure and analyze the manufacturing process, audit and calibrate equipment and create a document trail that shows the process leads to a consistent result. This ensures that the product is consistently of the highest quality.

Validation Team Member – This role is more focused on working on capital projects, equipment focused, higher salary than Validation Technicians as there would be a lot of overtime associated with the role. You would also need to move to where the job located and you could be working away from home.

Validation Engineer – responsible for planning, implementing and monitoring the validation strategy in highly regulated industries such as pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing. They measure and analyze the process, audit and calibrate equipment and create a document trail that shows the process leads to a consistent result to ensure the highest quality products are produced.

Salary information:

Click here for salary information for validation roles.

How you’d change career to a validation job in pharma:

IT/Automation Roles

These jobs suit:

  • Candidates with automation experience from another industry
  • Front and back end developers looking for a career change
  • Those already in pharmaceutical manufacturing looking to specialize or extend their role

Examples of jobs in this category include:

Automation Engineer – utilizes technology to improve, streamline and automate a manufacturing process. They are responsible for planning, implementation, and monitoring of such technology.

CSV Specialist – plan, write, implement and review the Computer Systems Validation protocols in place within highly regulated manufacturing industries. Their work is essential to make sure that all computer-based systems are operating as intended (with documents to prove it) to meet regulatory requirements.

Salary information:

Click here for salary information for IT/automation roles.

How you’d change career to a IT/Automation job in pharma:

No Industry Experience & Not Sure Where to Start?

There are great opportunities for people looking to move into pharmaceutical manufacturing from other industries and with different work backgrounds. This is especially true in areas such as Ireland where pharma industry growth is particularly strong right now.

We’ve helped thousands of people make a move into this industry. Their backgrounds have included:

  • Homemakers
  • Restaurant Sector – Chef, Cook Restaurant Manager
  • Healthcare – Nurse, Pharmacist, Radiation Therapist
  • Food Processing – Operator, Butcher
  • Military – Army, Navy, Air Force
  • Construction – Electrician, Plumber/Pipe-fitter, Carpenter/Joiner, Foreman, General Operative
  • Other – Farmers, Designers, Architects, Business, Accountant, Sales, etc

Your first job in the industry is likely to be an entry-level manufacturing job.

The specific title given to such jobs changes between companies (and depending on what’s being manufactured). Don’t worry too much about the details of the differences for now.

These roles will generally involve operating manufacturing machinery or assembling a product, as well as monitoring products of the manufacturing process to check its quality.

This work requires strict adherence to manufacturing protocols (since the pharma industry is highly regulated), excellent attention to detail, and the ability to work confidently on your own as well as towards a common team goal.

For more information, check out the articles on Process Technicians and Manufacturing Technicians.

There are also opportunities in packaging final products for distribution. Check out the article on Packaging Operators for more information about that.

These are all great roles to target to get your “foot in the door” in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. As well as providing competitive salaries and benefits, they also provide a stepping stone to more senior or specialist roles in the future – if that’s ultimately where you want to end up.

Salary Information:

Click here for salary information for entry-level manufacturing roles.

How you’d change career into pharma manufacturing with no previous industry experience:

  1. First, you’ll need to take the Conversion Course into Pharmaceutical Manufacturing to learn about the specific rules and regulations of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.
  2. At this point you’ll be able to apply for (and get!) your first job in the industry
  3. Then you can move on to take the academically accredited Certificate in eBioPharmaChem which will recognize your growing industry knowledge with a certificate from TU Dublin, and provide you a stepping stone to move into more senior roles

Other Useful Articles

Of course, if you have any questions that you can’t find the answers to, get in touch with us for a chat about your particular circumstance