Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology

What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology, often referred to as “biotech,” harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet. Modern biotechnology provides breakthrough products and technologies to combat debilitating and rare diseases, reduce our environmental footprint, feed the hungry, use less and cleaner energy, and have safer, cleaner and more efficient industrial manufacturing processes. (adapted from Biotechnology Industry Organization)

How can I break into the industry?

Research and development teams are the core job functions of the biotechnology industry, but administrative and operational positions are also abundant. According to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), employment in the biosector reached 1.42 million in 2008 and continued to grow through the economic downturn. 

Employment in this sector is dominated by a handful of giant pharmaceutical companies, but there are many smaller groups scattered throughout the U.S. In particular, there are agriculture and energy opportunities available in the private sector, in education,in the public sector (U.S. Department of Agriculture), and in consulting.  

Most pharmaceutical firms have established internship programs. Application deadlines typically fall in early March. Intern positions range from the sciences (chemistry, biology) to various business units, including marketing, sales, finance and human resources. Internships are highly recommended. Competition is keen for internship positions. Make sure you check out the alumni contacts on the Georgetown Alumni Career Network.

Many pharmaceutical firms require recent college graduates to start their careers as sales representatives. If you have a science background, other entry-level positions open to you might include research assistant or research associate. Biotechnology firms are typically smaller than pharmaceutical companies, with fewer established internship programs and entry-level positions. Entry-level positions in biotech can include research associate and associate scientist. If you have a graduate degree in the sciences, additional research opportunities will be available to you.

Industry Career Resources

Vault Career Guide to Biotechnology
Vault Guide to Pharmaceuticals and Biotech
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Jobs in Biotechnology
Biotechnology Industry Organization
Careers in Biotechnology: A Counselors Guide to the Best Jobs in the United States (PDF)

Biotechnology News and Job Search Sites

Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Biotech Startups
NewScientist Jobs

Biotech Careers in the U.S. Government

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institutes of Health
Food and Drug Administration
National Center for Health Statistics

Top Employers for the Industry

Science Careers: Top Biotechnology Employers
Top 25 Biotechnology Companies 2013 (based on annual earnings)

Who are some of the major employers?

Abbott Laboratories
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Eli Lilly
Johnson and Johnson

Professional Associations and Relevant Organizations

Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education
Advanced Medical Technology Association
American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
American College of Clinical Pharmacology
American Pharmacists Association
American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
American Society for Microbiology
American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy
Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities
Association of Medical Diagnostics Manufacturers
Biotechnology Industry Organization
California Separation Science Society
Center for Drug Discovery
Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium    
Drug Information Association, North America
Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Generic Pharmaceutical Association
Harvard Biotechnology Club
Human Proteome Organization
IMS Health
International Association of Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Societies
International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations
International Pharmaceutical Federation
International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology
IPEC Federation
Parenteral Drug Association
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Connecting with Alumni

Georgetown University's Alumni Career Network
Hoya Gateway