Is training required to obtain entry-level employment in the biopharma industry?

Yes. Entry-level biopharma manufacturing positions vary in their educational requirements. Some of these jobs are accessible with a high school diploma/GED plus a relevant certification, while others require an associate or bachelor’s degree in science or engineering.

What organizations offer biopharma manufacturing training? Describe the courses.

Below is a list of biopharma manufacturing training options. There may be additional courses beyond what is listed below. Your local community college is a good starting place to explore biopharma manufacturing training.


Delivers self-support short courses, workshops, and company-specific skill development in biomanufacturing, pharmaceuticals, food, beverage, and natural products. Courses can be delivered onsite, online, or at one of four lab facilities across the state; the majority of courses are delivered at the Capstone Center on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. Courses include:

  • Aseptic Processing
  • Biomanufacturing Bootcamp
  • Elements of cGMP for Biomanufacturing
  • Elements of cGMP for Pharmaceuticals
  • Fundamentals of Validation
  • Good Documentation Practices and Data Integrity
  • Micropipetting Techniques for Precision & Accuracy
  • Writing effective Standard Operating Procedures

BioWork Certificate Program

A 136-hour continuing education course offered at multiple community college throughout the state that provides skills and knowledge needed for entry-level process technicians in bioprocessing, pharmaceuticals, and chemical manufacturing. Offered at:

  • Alamance Community College
  • Caldwell Community College
  • Central Carolina Community College
  • Durham Technical Community College
  • Johnston County Community College
  • Piedmont Community College
  • Pitt Community College
  • Vance Granville Community College
  • Wake Technical Community College
  • Wilson Community College
  • Capstone Center on NC State’s Centennial Campus

Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE)

This institute at North Carolina Central University delivers training to meet the changing workforce needs of the North Carolina life science industries and clinical research sectors. Coursework for bachelor’s and advanced degrees includes a range of topics in biotechnology and life sciences topics. The PHRM 4110 undergraduate-level course connects students to the skills they need to work in biopharma development and production, including:

  • The principles of how to grow and monitor bacterial and mammalian cells on a laboratory scale and the processes to move to large-scale production used in industry
  • The concepts of cleaning, sterilization, aseptic inoculation, operation, and monitoring of fermenters and bioreactors, as well as the design and types of fermenters and bioreactors
  • The processes for the recovery and purification of proteins produced by cell cultures
  • The processes of centrifugation, filtration, and chromatography techniques
  • Good manufacturing practices (GMP) and standard operating procedures (SOPs)

Pharmaceutical Services Network

A one-of-a kind collaboration that provides a continuum of pharmaceutical education and training to new and existing companies in North Carolina. Services were developed with significant industry input and can be customized to accommodate specific company needs. Offered at:

  • East Carolina University
  • Pitt Community College

Biomanufacturing Training & Education Center (BTEC)

Certificate in Biomanufacturing Science

Certificate enhances expertise via three courses focused on the upstream, downstream, and analytical technologies common to biomanufacturing.

Short Courses in Analytical Technologies, Biomanufacturing, Bioprocess Development, and Bioprocess Engineering

  • Analytical Technologies – Coursework includes: Biopharmaceutical Assay Essentials
  • Biomanufacturing – Coursework includes: Applied Cleaning Validation practices, Chromatography Column Packing, Hands-on cGMP Biomanufacturing of Vectors for Gene Therapy, Hands-On cGMP Biomanufacturing Operations, Hands-On Single-Use Processing for Biopharmaceuticals, Hands-On Viral Vaccine Manufacture, Microbial Contamination Control in Bioprocessing Operations
  • Bioprocess Development – Coursework includes: Applied Principles and Techniques of Depth Flow Filtration (DFF) and Tangential Flow Filtration (TFF) for BioPharma Downstream Purification, Downstream Biopharmaceutical Processes, Foundations of Downstream Processing and Formulation, Fundamentals of Mammalian Cell Line Development, Introduction to Design of Experiments (DoE) for Bioprocess Analysis and Optimization
  • Bioprocess Engineering – Coursework includes: Applied Monitoring and Control for Advanced Biomanufacturing, Cell Culture Engineering: A Single-Use Perspective, Fermentation Engineering, Hands-On Essentials of Automation for Biomanufacturing
  • Online Courses – Fundamentals of Biomanufacturing

Other Programs

Advanced Biomanufacturing Training Program:

This course is the next in succession to BioWork and offers three certifications including advanced bioprocessing, aseptic training, and process technician for the state exam. Offered at:

  • Johnston Community College

What is the cost of training?

Consult your local community college or the training providers’ website for costs of programs.

Is financial aid available?

Financial aid resources are available at the community colleges if you qualify. Please consult with your local institution for more information.

Are there pre-requisites for biopharma manufacturing training?

Yes. Training via BioNetwork, BioWork, and Pharmaceutical Services Network all require a high school diploma or GED as a pre-requisite.

When can I start training?

Start dates for BioNetwork, BioWork, and Pharmaceutical Services Network courses vary. Consult the training providers’ website for specific dates.

How long will it take me to complete the training?

Some courses take 10-12 weeks to complete while certificate and certification program training can range from 3 days to several weeks or up to a semester in length, depending upon the institution and the program.

For more advanced training, associate degrees typically can be completed in 2 years. Bachelor’s degrees typically can be completed in 4 years.

Are there special training programs for the military community?

Yes. NCBiotech provides programs for transitioning military service members, veterans and military spouses.  These programs are designed to create meaningful pathways to training and careers in biopharma manufacturing. Program offerings include learning workshops, access to in-person and online classes, certificate programs, military internships, career fairs and hiring events.

NCBiotech partners with industry to connect service members with career opportunities. Through the NCBiotech Veteran’s Outreach Program and a collaborative partnership with Fort Bragg’s Soldier for Life—Transitions Assistance Program (SFL-TAP), they offer on the job military internship programs, such as those hosted by Pfizer and Seqirus. Visit NCBiotech’s Veteran’s Outreach Program for further information and to explore internships.

Is mentoring available to help obtain a job upon completing training?

Many North Carolina community colleges have career centers that help their students with resume writing, interviewing skills and how to best utilize job posting websites, such as LinkedIn, to obtain employment. NCWorks and NCBiotech’s Jobs Board are other resources for finding biopharma manufacturing jobs.

Are there professional groups I can join to network with others in the biopharma manufacturing industry?

For networking opportunities, visit the Biomanufacturing and Process Development exchange group at NCBiotech, which hosts monthly symposiums on bioprocessing topics. Students, trainees and transitioning professionals are encouraged to attend.

NCBiotech also hosts free monthly Jobs Network events for those seeking networking and job opportunities in North Carolina’s life sciences ecosystem.

What are the pay ranges for entry-level positions in the biopharma manufacturing?

For positions that require a high school diploma or GED plus a certificate, average salary is $48,000. Some entry-level positions include:

  • Cleanroom Associate
  • Packaging and Fill
  • Manufacturing Technician
  • Maintenance, Utilities and Facilities technicians
  • Warehouse Associate
  • Sampling technician

For positions that may require an associate degree, the average starting salaries is $55,000.  Some entry-level positions include:

  • Manufacturing Technician
  • Quality Assurance or Quality Control Technician
  • Engineer and Facilities technician

For positions that may require a bachelor’s degree, the average starting salaries is $60,000. Some entry-level positions include:

  • Process Engineer
  • Quality Assurance Associate
  • Quality Control Associate

Does the biopharma manufacturing industry require shift work?

Yes. Most biopharma manufacturing positions request non-traditional work shifts (e.g., split shifts, 12-hour shifts, weekend shifts and 12-hours rotating). However, there are other non-manufacturing-related positions at biopharma companies that do not require shift work.

Header image photo credit: ZenBio