North Carolina has one of the most thriving life sciences sectors in the nation and employs roughly 30,000 workers. The state is home to more than 100 pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, including big names like Pfizer and Novartis. Many biopharma jobs pay between $42K and $60K to start, with potential average earnings of $100K. In the next five years, biopharma companies plan to hire 5,000 new employees.
These jobs require coursework and training, but opportunities are available to people of all education levels and backgrounds. If you are detail oriented, meticulous about following processes, and want to do meaningful work that saves lives, a job in biopharma manufacturing could be your next career.
Biopharma job titles vary by company, but fall into the following categories:
Process Technician, High school diploma/GED
Process Technicians are responsible for executing steps in the manufacture of chemical and pharmaceutical products. While specific duties vary depending on the employer, typical duties include:
- Operate, monitor, and control the production process
- Receive, transport, and store materials
- Collect and analyze materials used in production
- Inspect and maintain the production equipment and control systems
- Keep critical records on the process and product
- Maintain company safety, health, and environmental standards
(High school diploma/GED plus relevant work experience or training is required. Additional relevant community college education including certifications, short courses, and degree programs is often required.)
Maintenance and/or Instrumentation Technician, High school diploma/GED + certification
Maintenance and/or instrumentation technicians perform daily monitoring, repair, predictive and preventive maintenance activities on all production related equipment. Duties and responsibilities include:
- Troubleshoots, installs and modernizes new and existing systems, which may include refrigeration equipment, water systems, HVAC systems, and electrical systems.
- Monitors, troubleshoots, calibrates, installs and modernizes process control instrumentation for production-related equipment.
- Documents repairs, adjustments, and replacement of equipment and/or components per company, and regulatory standards.
- May also provide input and corrections to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
(For maintenance technician High school diploma/GED plus relevant trade certification (e.g. refrigeration, HVAC) is required. For instrumentation technician an AAS degree in a relevant program — Industrial Maintenance, Instrumentation, Industrial Systems Technology — is required. Additional relevant community college education such as certifications and short courses is preferred. Work experience is not required for entry-level, but military and other industry experience is desirable.)
Quality Assurance Associate, BS
QA Associates ensure product quality and company compliance with FDA and other regulations. They also ensure all production batches are completed according to standard operating procedures (SOP), review quality control testing to ensure the values are within range for quality, and conduct inspections or audits of processes and systems to ensure protocols are meticulously followed.
(Educational requirement: BS in science or engineering.)
Quality Control Associate, BS
QC Associates test ingredients for medicines, intermediary products, and final solutions or tablets to ensure the medicine meets quality standards. Daily work includes taking samples, creating solutions, running tests, and documenting results according to FDA regulations. Individuals in this role may also analyze results or perform initial troubleshooting to resolve quality issues.
(Educational Requirement: BS in a scientific discipline.)
Process Development Associate/Scientist, BS preferred
Process Development associates and scientists are responsible for the development, optimization, and transfer of new products and processes from R&D into manufacturing. Responsible for:
- Designing and/or executing protocols in order to develop new processes
- Optimizing existing manufacturing processes
- Improve product yield
- Reducing manufacturing costs
- Researching and implementing new methods and technologies to enhance operations.
- Executing small-to-medium scale production work, which may involve cell culture, fermentation, and purification.
(Associate Level AAS in scientific discipline. For example: industrial pharmaceutical technology or biotechnology, with 2-5 years industry experience. BS in science or engineering (chemical or bioprocess) preferred. Scientist Level MS with 2-5 years industry experience, or PhD in science or engineering (chemical or bioprocess) with no experience.)
Process Engineer, BS
Process engineers assist with the design, operation, and improvement of processes, equipment and facilities for biopharma manufacturing facilities. Starting with the process developed during research, this person would scale up that process to accurately produce commercial quantities of medicine. This might involve writing specifications for equipment, training equipment operators, and maintaining and troubleshooting the equipment or process as it is used.
(Educational requirement: BS in biochemical, bioprocess, chemical, or mechanical engineering, or food science, emphasis on food engineering.)
Header image photo credit: Novartis