5 Top Life Sciences Jobs in 2023

7 min Minutes

With the life science field targeted by multiple nations as an area of focus for their scien...

By Guest Author

sharing industry expertise

With the life science field targeted by multiple nations as an area of focus for their science and technology strategies, organisations are searching for ambitious candidates for life science jobs. The UK’s Science and Technology Framework has shown that the government is committed to investing £20 billion into research and development between 2024 and 2025.  In addition, private equity firms across the United States are beginning to develop dedicated life sciences funds. 

As a result, life science jobs are flourishing, with exciting roles being created each day to support global health and innovation. Following 2022, a year in which many organisations were dedicated to finding their feet after the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus for the coming year is leveraging data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive business productivity and efficiency. 

This article discusses the most popular life science jobs in 2023 and how candidates can enter these diverse and innovative roles. We’ll explore how they’re impacted by the rapid pace of transformation and innovation in AI/ML technologies and their long-term career prospects within the life science industry.

The Leading Life Science Jobs in 2023

Across all specialisms, life science jobs are evolving to meet the demands of the digital workplace. Many experts have commented that 2023 will be the year in which AI will hit the mainstream, with Microsoft implementing ChatGPT functionality into their Bing search engine and the announcement and beta launch of Google’s competitor—Bard—meaning that people in every industry are starting to question how they can make artificial intelligence work for them. 

With costs increasing across the life sciences sector due to pharmaceutical supply chain disruption, inflation and rising energy prices, many of these roles focus on integrating new technologies to drive insights, savings and efficiency gains through the automation of tasks. 

Attracting and retaining talent is a primary concern of many life science organisations. With a global talent shortage, businesses are discovering that the key to resiliency and high performance is training staff in the skills they need to do their jobs effectively. They encourage their workforce to take advantage of the opportunity to upskill and advance into senior roles. The life science jobs we’re looking at are a perfect fit for motivated professionals seeking a challenge. 

1. Bioengineering Project Manager

Bioengineering project managers are integral to the long-term facilitation and smooth running of medical, pharmaceutical or biotechnological research and development programmes. They help to connect the internal departments of a business, ensuring that all aspects of a project are proceeding according to plan. 

Whilst all project managers will have to understand and implement budgetary constraints, some roles will also see these professionals helping to secure funding for future R&D initiatives.

Bioengineering Project Manager Job Description

Managing a project within the life sciences sector will mean that no two days are ever the same—with the role often seeing bioengineering project managers communicating with internal and external stakeholders and assisting colleagues where necessary to ensure that scheduled deadlines are met. 

The typical responsibilities of a bioengineering project manager would involve the following duties: 

  • Collecting and producing data-driven reports and analytics for use across the business, helping to ensure that research and development are meeting budgetary and time milestones
  • Identifying gaps in the required tools, equipment or skills needed to complete a project and working with department and business leaders to prioritise resourcing for these needs
  • Communicating project progress regularly to internal and external stakeholders, adjusting timelines as required and in line with feedback
  • Writing progress reports for any grant-awarding bodies
  • Serving as a resource for departmental queries regarding regulation, compliance, best practices, and internal processes
  • Helping develop team members to assist in project management through training and guidance

Many aspects of the role are evolving through new technologies, with machine learning algorithms helping bioengineering project managers parse through data and make informed decisions. 

Bioengineering Project Manager Salary and Career Prospects

Project managers are amongst some of the highest earners regarding a bioengineering salary, with average yearly earnings of around £55,000 within the UK and $70,000 in the USA. 

Career prospects for bioengineering project management professionals are good. Experience and ambition enable candidates to rise into senior roles. They’ll be responsible for an overview of all projects and focus on supporting the wider project management team through engagement and training initiatives. The right candidate for a bioengineering project management job will be personable and meticulous, able to be a trusted source for updates across the organisation. 

How to Become a Bioengineering Project Manager

There is a range of skills that bioengineering project managers require to do their jobs effectively, from statistics to finance, as well as leadership ability. However, most of these can be learnt on the job. 

A project manager in the life sciences sector will typically have an academic background in an associated field such as biology, chemistry or medicine. However, those from an engineering background can also focus their studies on a life sciences field at the postgraduate level. 

Project management roles within the life sciences will often also look for candidates with a few years of experience in a specific departmental role, meaning that those looking to advance into a career as a bioengineering project manager can set themselves apart by gaining a good understanding of all business operations whilst they’re working in less-senior roles. 

2. Biophysicist

Biophysicists focus on research and development programmes across the life sciences industry, helping organisations understand how to develop new tools and treatments that will be utilised in the clinical environment. 

From creating new medical technologies and imaging techniques that make disease diagnosis more safe and speedy to producing and analysing the data that will help guide nanotechnology and biomaterials production, these professionals are integral to the life sciences sector.

These experts can be found working across the private sector and academic research environment, from small technology start-ups to the significant and impactful corporations that enable healthcare professionals to carry out their life-saving work.

Biophysicist Job Description

Most biophysicist roles will see them carrying out cutting-edge research on applying physical laws to enable efficiency and safety gains in medical devices and pharmaceuticals that improve global health outcomes. 

A typical biophysicist job description will depend on which area of the life sciences they work in, but their day-to-day responsibilities could include:

  • The research and development of the tools and techniques enable professionals across the life science industry to carry out their work, from mass spectrometry to computational biology
  • Producing medical devices which will go on to help diagnose disease and illness more quickly and safely across the clinical and healthcare environment
  • Working alongside bioengineers to develop precision medical treatments based on the study and sequencing of a patient’s genomes
  • The development of biomaterials and nanotechnological innovations that will drive future advances in healthcare

With advanced automation allowing for the processing of ever-more complex and large data sets, biophysicists’ unique skill sets will see them becoming an integral part of the research and development activities of the life sciences sector in the coming years. 

Biophysicist Salary and Career Prospects

The average biophysicist salary is around £60,000 in the UK’s private sector and $86,000 in the US, although this figure is typically around £45,000 and $70,000 in the university environment, respectively. 

Seniority and additional responsibilities can see the average salary of a biophysicist rise higher, but getting to the level of a director within the field of biophysics will typically require a PhD and specialist knowledge. Many working within the life sciences will either possess or aim to complete Master’s degrees, enabling them to focus on a specific area or technology. 

Entrepreneurial biophysicists have also gone on to build their own start-ups and run incubators, helping to usher in a new era of advances in healthcare technologies.

How to Become a Biophysicist

Preparing for a career as a biophysicist typically begins at the undergraduate level, with degree courses such as physics, chemistry, biology or mathematics offering a foundation for many biophysicist life science jobs. Candidates with degrees in adjacent fields such as mechanical, electrical or biomedical engineering can also specialise at the postgraduate level. 

Once they have completed their academic studies, candidates typically go on to roles in the educational environment. Alternatively, they will join a start-up or a larger company as a researcher, helping their organisation utilise the latest developments and computational methods to create advanced treatments and medical devices.

3. Chemical Technician

A chemical technician is responsible for assisting engineers and pharmaceutical professionals in the lab environment and helping to conduct tests on various drugs and products. This role is integral to the quality assurance and compliance standards that life science organisations adhere to, with chemical technicians assisting in developing the internal processes that can help maintain a business’s reputation. 

These experts can be sub-divided into two categories: 

  • Laboratory technicians help maintain and run laboratory instrumentation and equipment, conduct analyses and experiments, and test medical and pharmaceutical products
  • Processing technicians monitor the efficiency and productivity of processes within chemical manufacturing facilities, helping to implement advanced techniques and calibrate equipment to improve the quality and volume of the chemicals produced

Every chemical technician will meticulously record and analyse data, ensuring that their organisations can make informed decisions on R&D and manufacturing.

Chemical Technician Job Description

A chemical technician will be responsible for many lab or chemical manufacturing facility responsibilities, such as: 

  • Maintaining and monitoring equipment such as bioreactors to ensure efficient and safe production
  • Implementing cutting-edge chemical processing techniques, guided by research and best practice, to improve yield and safety
  • Testing the quality of products and deliverables and producing data-driven reports for internal and external stakeholders
  • Preparing chemicals, compounds and solutions, conducting experiments and interpreting results
  • Communicating with clients regarding their chemical orders, setting expectations and managing conflicts

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are helping to take the leg-work out of the role of a chemical technician, enabling them to automate the rote testing tasks and focus on the quality and internal processes that will ensure satisfied customers and better treatments. 

Chemical Technician Salary and Career Prospects

A chemical technician working in a life science job in the UK will earn an average salary of approximately £30,000; in the US, this figure will rise to around $55,000, whilst seniority will see these rise to £45,000 and $80,000 per year.

Career prospects for a chemical technician in either sub-sector—whether laboratory or process-focused—are good, with experience seeing employees able to move into production or device management or head of operations-level roles. 

How to Become a Chemical Technician

Chemical technicians typically come from an academic background in chemistry, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, or process engineering, with many candidates possessing specialised postgraduate degrees in specific areas of the field. There are also some apprenticeships available for those looking for entry-level lab technician or manufacturing technician training. 

Work as a chemical technician is typically carried out on-site, in the lab or manufacturing environment. However, many chemical technicians will have to separate their time between this workplace and the office, where they’ll prepare reports and analyse data.

4. Clinical Trial Coordinator

Clinical trial coordinator jobs focus on attracting and managing patients and participants involved in any stage of the clinical research process. As specialists in conducting research on humans, they are experts in placing ethical considerations and good clinical practice at the heart of everything they do for their employers. 

Often the primary point of contact for participants and sponsors in the clinical trial process, they ensure that projects have the resources they require to be run effectively, productively and safely. 

Clinical Trial Coordinator Job Description

The role and responsibilities of the clinical trial coordinator will often see them balancing several duties that will be dictated by the phase of the clinical research process they’re facilitating, such as: 

  • Participant attraction and retention activities, including the preparation of materials which reach out to potential participants
  • Pre-screening tasks include advising potential participants about the trial and its goals so they can make an informed decision to consent to the trial
  • Helping to run the clinical trial, ensuring resourcing is in place, managing budgets and ethical compliance, administering questionnaires and arranging staff training

Clinical trial coordinators fulfil a similar role to project managers, ensuring that research activities run on time and within budgetary and regulatory guidelines. 

Clinical Trial Coordinator Salary and Career Prospects

The salary for a clinical trial coordinator is around £31,000 at the entry level in the UK, whilst the US figure is slightly higher at $50,000. Seniority and additional responsibilities will increase this clinical trial coordinator's salary to around £43,000 in the UK and $70,000 in the US.

As a senior role within the life science jobs market, clinical trial coordinators will often advance into executive, c-suite and board-level positions with time and experience, helping to lead their organisations' research and development activities over the long term. 

How to Become a Clinical Trial Coordinator

Becoming a clinical trial coordinator will often require candidates to possess an undergraduate degree in a scientific or medical field, alongside the experience commensurate with a senior role in charge of research on humans. 

Many employers expect these professionals to hold advanced degrees in the specific sub-field of clinical research they’ve chosen to focus their careers on, such as biochemistry, healthcare management, or novel drug development. 

The ambitious and talented candidates that enter clinical trial coordinator jobs typically have experience at the associate level in clinical research or come from specialised healthcare backgrounds such as nursing or pharmaceuticals. 

5. Pharmaceutical Research Scientist

A research scientist working in the pharmaceutical industry will assist their organisation with product development, testing and designing experiments to gather data which can guide short and long-term strategies. 

As artificial intelligence and machine learning start to mature, these professionals have been tasked with maintaining and parsing vast data sets, publishing trial results and aiming to increase the reputation and prestige of their employers. They can be found working in the academic and private environment, with contract research and manufacturing organisations requiring their expertise and niche skills. 

Pharmaceutical Research Scientist Job Description

Research scientists working in all environments will need to be flexible and creative, from universities to private enterprises, with responsibility for several tasks, including: 

  • Drafting and collaborating with colleagues on research proposals, helping to secure funding
  • Conducting experiments and collecting and analysing the data using cutting-edge technologies and equipment
  • Working alongside peers in other departments on new products and techniques
  • Maintaining a foot in the world of research through the publication of data and outcomes, alongside a focus on keeping up with the latest developments in pharmaceuticals and drug development
  • Presenting research and findings to colleagues and key internal and external stakeholders
  • Work with health professionals to assess new products, pharmaceutical risks, and regulatory requirements
  • Managing inventories of chemicals and pharmaceutical ingredients per industry standards and legislation

These experts will split their time between the laboratory and the office, depending on their area of expertise within the life sciences. 

Pharmaceutical Research Scientist Salary and Career Prospects

The average salary of a research scientist in the UK is around £35,000; in the US, this figure is more often around $70,000. However, experience will see this figure rise, with senior pharmaceutical research scientists earning an average salary of £70,000 in the UK and $123,000 in the US.  

The career prospects of a pharmaceutical research scientist are vast, with several professionals going on to c-suite or board-level roles in private organisations or returning to the academic environment as senior research fellows.

How To Become a Pharmaceutical Research Scientist

Pharmaceutical research scientists will hold an advanced degree in a field such as biology, chemistry, physics or mathematics, focusing on biochemistry or pharmacology at the postgraduate level. Several candidates will also hold a PhD, particularly for roles within the academic environment, where many lab-based life science jobs are post-doctoral fellowships. 

Aspiring research scientists should consider gaining work experience with an established company or start-up before they decide to specialise, allowing them to gain the expertise that will enable them to command high wages and senior appointments across the life science industry. Additionally, they can pursue further qualifications with an industry body such as the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP), which will evidence their commitment to their career path. 

People-Centric Talent Solutions for Life Science Jobs

With offices across the US, EU and UK, the consultants working at Meet Recruitment have a truly global reach. We’re passionate about supporting the future of global health and innovation, from bioengineering to pharmaceuticals and medtech. We’re committed to sourcing high-performing, talented and ambitious candidates for some of the most exciting roles worldwide. Contact us to discuss your experience or needs. 

Book in a call with one of the team about your hiring needs.

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