It is a common misconception that when one studies life science they are destined or doomed only for a career in research or the lab. However in recent times, there has been steady demand for jobs outside of academia. One now has the option to choose alternative career pathways when they are done with their life science degree or even after pursuing a PhD. The following five jobs outline alternative options for those looking to carve a career out of the lab.
Medical Writing/ Scientific Writing
Having completed a Master’s or PhD would have provided one with enough training in writing skills especially in scientific writing as its fraught with technical terms and scientific language. Even as a Bachelor’s graduate, one would have ample training in writing for their final year project reports. This can pave way for a medical writing career in product manuals, user handbooks and medical notes. It may even be for websites or brochures to communicate life science to the public.
In the same fashion, scientific writing for journals, newspapers or scientific blogs is another branch one can venture into if your writing skills are top notch. As a scientific writer you are expected to conduct research as well as use your knowledge expertise to produce content for the scientific community.
Sales & Marketing
Sales for a life science graduate involve selling instruments, devices, drugs, reagents to the scientific community as well as healthcare professionals. Sales and marketing can be very lucrative but be prepared to put in the hours in order to meet company targets. Being equipped with the scientific training and knowledge during your academic life should equip you with enough background information to understand the products in order to market them to your target audience. However, be warned this may not be suitable for you if you are not a people person.
Regulatory affair is a branch that is needed in every pharmaceutical, diagnostics, medical device and clinical research organisation. Regulatory affair professional ensures that any device or drug or even cosmetics adhere to appropriate legislative requirement before it is manufactured and distributed. Much of the role involves reviewing scientific and legal documents, application for licences, obtaining marketing permission, keeping up to date of legislative changes and advising scientists on regulations. A regulatory affairs officer constantly has to be up to speed in ensuring that quality standards are met and submissions meet strict deadlines. Regulatory affairs maybe the kind of desk bound job for someone who favours paperwork. Through regulatory affairs one can develop an understanding and appreciation of relevant legal and scientific documents.
Clinical Research Associate
So you may not enjoy being at the work bench holding test tubes and looking under microscopes. In such case, a clinical research associate job may be a more exciting career pathway for those looking for more action. Clinical research associate job is what we call bench to bedside transition. You get to test the drugs that have been created through years of research on actual patients to observe clinical outcomes. Clinical research associate job is more than just taking patient consent and administrating the drug or treatments. It encompasses application to ethics review board, being familiar with GCP and ICH performing data recording and adverse outcomes. A clinical research associate also gets to work with the clinicians and laboratory technologists who are involved in the study.
Biostatistics involves using statistical tools and techniques to analyse and generate reports on health outcomes which will impact the healthcare. In the past biostaticians were mainly seen as crunching numbers and generating reports with scientific interpretations. However now, biostaticians play a key role in pharmaceutical companies and healthcare institutions in the drug development process by helping to reduce risks, decrease costs and accelerate timelines. In a data driven field of medicine, biostatistics play a vital role in formulating questions and hypothesis and using the data to answer these questions. Biostatistics professionals may work with private research facilities, hospitals, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies.
These are just a handful of the more popular alternate career paths. Not everyone may fancy a job in the lab for the rest of their lives after completing their training or hold the same passion which they had during their studies to sustain them through a research career. Take the time to talk with your school career advisor and others in the field outside of academia to see what path is best for you.